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Announcing the African American History Initiative

LOUISVILLE, KY – Since its founding in 1884, the mission of the Filson Historical Society has been to collect, preserve, and share the region’s history. The organization is proud to announce the latest manifestation of this continuing mission, the African American History Initiative (AAHI). The public launch of this initiative will be held on Friday, June 9 during the opening of the exhibit “A Better Life for Their Children.”

The AAHI will focus on preserving the stories and histories of Black citizens of Louisville, Southern Indiana, and the Ohio Valley region, providing greater public access to these important legacies, and promoting community partnerships to foster meaningful conversations about our past, present, and future. It will be a permanent component of the Filson’s Department Collections and Research, with a dedicated Curator of African American Collections. This long-term effort will expand the Filson’s collections and educational programs while building relationships and filling in gaps in the existing historical record.

While the Filson is one of the region’s premier historical archives and research institutions, the AAHI will also work to build partnerships with community institutions and organizations to promote access to the shared history of the Black community, creating opportunities for dialogue and collaboration. The Filson is committed to working alongside its partners to create a more inclusive and equitable society, and the AAHI is a vital part of this effort.

The AAHI will be supported by a $3.5 million dollar endowment, providing permanent funding for this initiative at the Filson. This investment will enable sustained engagement with the African American community and provide funding for salary, outreach, and associated program and collections expenses. To date, the Filson has received more than $2,260,000 in contributions and commitments toward this goal, including an $82,000 Brown-Forman Foundation grant for initial operations funding, to kick off this new chapter in the Filson’s history.

The public is invited to join the Filson in celebration and support of this important work by attending the public launch of the initiative, and the celebration of the Brown-Forman Foundation Grant, at 5:00 pm on Friday, June 9. The announcement will also celebrate the opening of the exhibit “A Better Life for Their Children: Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington, and the 4,978 Schools that Changed America” which includes photographs, storytelling, and original curation by Andrew Feiler. The Filson is located at 1310 S. 3rd St., Louisville. The AAHI announcement and exhibit opening are both free and open to the public.

For more information about the African American History Initiative, please contact Jamie Evans, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, at gro.l1718411813aciro1718411813tsihn1718411813oslif1718411813@snav1718411813ej1718411813 or (502) 635-5083. For more information on Filson happenings, please visit