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Ypsilanti District Library
Ypsilanti African American Oral History Archive
$25,000 • Ypsilanti
Between the Civil War and WWI, Ypsilanti was home to a vibrant African American community that transformed our region’s future. Unlike their white counterparts, most of this history is not etched into buildings or recorded in books. Instead, the historical record is remembered by the people who lived and still live here. This project preserves these remembered stories in a local oral history archive, starting by digitizing and permanently preserving a set of almost 50 oral histories recorded in the 1980s by the prominent black professor, historian, and activist A.P. Marshall. Local historians built on this collection by adding an additional 5-10 contemporary oral histories, collecting the stories of people born in the 1920s and 1930s who have spent their lives on Ypsilanti’s south side. Finally, the Ypsilanti District Library and the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County hosted historical lectures and community events, publicizing the oral history project while raising awareness about the African American contributions to building the city we love today.