Our Structure

To my knowledge, there are no other black history libraries in Mid-Missouri.

Most counties in Missouri have some type of Historical Society structure. We do in Pettis County where Sedalia is located. However, Historical Societies usually don’t present too much about black History.There is just too much else to do. Like most folks, they do the best they can. And of course here at the Rose M. Nolen Black History Library our goal just isn’t Black History, it is to locate, honor, preserve and PRESENT Black History, but then the real work begins – to talk about it!! For it is only in presenting Black History and educating folks (hence the Library part-to read books about Black History) can there be a meaningful discussion and hopefuly healing about race. BUT if you name it – you can tame it. That comes from my being a psychologist in private practice 32 yrs. here in Sedalia.

In regard to other sites in Missouri where you could learn about Black History, Father Noah Berry had a Black History Museum in Ash Grove, Mo. in a store front in the town for 10 yrs. or so. It has now gone “virtual” and is also at the Springfield, Mo Museum site where it is displayed periodically.

In Kansas City there is the Black Archives which Governor Nixon rescued some years ago with some $3,000,000. There is also the Bruce Watkins Cultural Center and the Black Baseball Museum where one could gain information and I would imagine St. Louis also has some type of Black History center though I have not visited there. At Diamond, Mo. there is a lovely park district museum in honor of George Washington Carver. And of course Jefferson City has Lincoln University established by Black Civil War soldiers to help their race get an education.

All the above places of course require time, travel and commitment and are not generally at the top of one’s list to see, nor not too interested with the goal of ours – to promote discussion and healing.

I would like to mention Crittenden, Kentucky though, where a Black History Museum was being established by a white woman in an abandoned school house. Her efforts were featured in “The Call” Black Newspaper in K.C. a few years ago. Sadly however, it was burned down before it actually began operation.

– Marge Harlan, retired Psychologist and Founder for the Rose M. Nolen Black History Library