African American Heritage in the Ozarks Exhibit

In 2021, the State Historical Society of Missouri was awarded an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant through the National Endowment for the Humanities and Missouri Humanities for a project titled “African American Heritage in the Ozarks.” Over fifteen months, staff at the State Historical Society identified and compiled an extensive list of primary and secondary sources related to African American life in the region, provided public programming in numerous Ozarks communities, developed physical and digital exhibits, and conducted more than two dozen oral histories preserving the voices and memories of the people who call, or have called, the Ozarks home.

This page contains a digital version of the “African American Heritage in the Ozarks” exhibit displayed in the Wenneker Family Corridor Gallery at the Center for Missouri Studies in Columbia from March to September 2023. In addition to materials from the collections of The State Historical Society of Missouri, this exhibit also features images and documents provided courtesy of: Harbin/Stephens Family; Carrol (Manier) Manyea; Nanda Nunnelly; Crockett and Tonya Oaks; Donnita Patterson-Brown; Missouri State Archives; Missouri State University Special Collections & Archives; and The New York Public Library Digital Collections. In the exhibit, five QR codes can be found with links to documents, audio segments, and website content related to the larger project. These links can be accessed via the exhibit’s QR codes or by clicking on the following topics:

  • Letters and ledger book entries detail the lives of enslaved people at the Maramec Iron Works from the 1830s to the 1850s.
  • Voda Curtis recounts her memories of the aftermath of the 1906 lynchings of Will Allen, Fred Coker, and Horace Duncan in Springfield.
  • Mark Dixon explains the importance that Benton Avenue A.M.E. Church held for many Springfield residents.
  • Elizabeth Logan Calvin and Irv Logan describe their grandmother, Alberta Ellis, a Springfield entrepreneur who managed several businesses in Greene County, including Alberta’s Hotel, a popular hotel featured in the Green Book.
  • The Emancipation Day in the Missouri Ozarks Interactive Map.