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Freedom Center seeking object donations to expand collections

MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Hefner (513) 608-5777,

Freedom Center seeking object donations to expand collections

Public opportunity to donate historic and contemporary material as part of museum collections expansion

CINCINNATI – Your grandfather’s personal letters, great aunt’s diary or family scrapbook could help expand our shared national history. Spurred by a recent grant to expand its collections storage and preservation space, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is issuing a national call for donations to develop a more robust and diverse collection.

This September, the Freedom Center received a $500,000 grant from the Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service, to double its collections storage area and support future museum operations. The grant will enable the Freedom Center to create a sustainable, research-level archival system, making it an international destination for collecting, preserving and researching African American history and ancestry in Ohio and beyond. But the Freedom Center is looking for community help to expand that collection.

“This is an opportunity to build space for a more complete American history that reflects our diverse communities locally, regionally and nationally,” said Dr. Stephanie Lampkin, curator at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Among the primary source materials the Freedom Center is looking for are those that represent and speak to the experiences of people of color, women, children, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community and those with differing abilities. Those voices are particularly missing from the eras of the American Revolution, abolition, post-Civil War and Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era to the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and historic and contemporary social justice movements – racial equality, economic empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice, reproductive justice, climate justice, voting rights and more. Collections materials come in many forms and may be diaries, journals and personal letters, sketches and illustrations, broadsides, historic photographs and labor contracts, as well as three-dimensional objects including clothing and uniforms, tools, protest signs and instruments.

Those interested in donating materials to the Freedom Center’s collections can do so by filling out an acquisition review form at The Freedom Center’s curatorial team will review all applications within 30 days, evaluating for fit with the museum mission and scope of its collections, condition, the museum’s ability to make the material available to the public and the availability of resources to properly store and care for the materials. Though the Freedom Center cannot guarantee that all items donated will be on exhibit in its galleries, any materials accessioned into its collections will be preserved and maintained for research by museum staff and external scholars.

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