The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.



Remembering Past Exhibits @ MAAH

      John J. Smith

Black Entrepreneurs of the 18th & 19th Centuries
Ended - September 30, 2009
46 Joy Street

Entrepreneurship has always been a way for Americans to climb the economic ladder. Black Americans also took part in this American dream beginning when slavery was still legal in this country. Black Entrepreneurs of the 18th and 19th Centuries will tell the stories of some of the enterprising black entrepreneurs from the Revolutionary period through the 19th century in Boston and New England. It will explore the little-known stories of early black entrepreneurs who invested their labor, time and money for their own business ventures, but also on behalf of freedom.

Meet the enterprising black business people who made a way out of no way in tough economic times. These bold men and women ran small-scale and large-scale commercial enterprises, ranging from home-based businesses and small shops to regional, national, and international companies. They developed products, selected markets, created economic networks, invested strategically, and sought to balance risks and rewards, costs and profits. They put people to work, built wealth and gave back to the community.

Photos courtesy of the Museum of African American History

This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.









African Meeting House 


A Gathering Place for  Freedom

46 Joy Street

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the African Meeting House in Boston, the Museum of African American History presents a year-long exhibition, A Gathering Place for Freedom. The exhibition embodies the proud history of the free and self-emancipated black community of 19th century Boston who organized itself to build its own institutions as to lead in the movement to end slavery in this nation. The African Meeting House offers a unique window on this history that begins with the actual physical structures where people worked together to secure the promise of the Declaration of Independence.

The exhibition includes early maps, architectural sketches, photographs, paintings, poetry, historical newspaper articles, archaeological artifacts, antique books and sculpture.

About the Gathering Place for Freedom

Fifteen years after the passage of the Bill of Rights, the African Baptist Church was dedicated. Officially consecrated on December 6, 1806, the church was part of the established tradition of African American excellence and enterprise in Boston. The women, men, and children who made up the first congregation of this church established a holy sanctuary for worship and a much-desired school that would support African American education.

The red brick church would house historic abolitionist meetings, would accommodate unforgettable lectures, would resound with children’s voices reciting their lessons and singing, and would host recruiting meetings for brave black Civil War regiments . All who entered into this stately building on Smith Court, found that there, the freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, was upheld. The church also protected freedom of the press supporting abolitionist newspapers like The Liberator and Freedom’s Journal. The church enabled people of all races to assemble in peace. The African Meeting House was a mighty gathering place for freedom.

Lois Brown, Ph.D.
Co-Curator and Exhibition Scholar,
Marion Kilson, Ph.D.
Co-Curator and Exhibition Scholar

46 Joy Street, Beacon Hill – Free - Gallery hours,
Monday – Saturday, 10:00 – 4:00 PM
Free To All

Image: James Ransome image
James Ransome