(Wilberforce, OH) – The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center (NAAMCC) recently received a major contribution representing a significant portion of the life of a distinguished Ohioan, Col. Charles Young. Young was the third African-American graduate of West Point and was an accomplished soldier and civic leader. He was the son of a Civil War veteran who served in the United States Colored Troops. Although not well known today, in the early 20th century, he was among the best-known African Americans.
Charles Wash, Ph.D., archivist at the Ohio Historical Society who has been working on a special assignment to NAAMCC for two years, said, "Charles Young should easily be mentioned alongside other great figures in America such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and even Andrew Carnegie."
The recent donation to the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center adds to a wide collection of objects the museum owns of Young’s life as well as those of many other prominent African-Americans of the 19th-21st Centuries. The new objects include the earliest known photograph of Charles Young at ten years old, photographs of Young’s parents Gabriel and Arminta Young, images from his funeral procession in Washington D.C., and Gabriel Young’s Grand Army of the Republic Civil War medal.
Floyd Thomas, Ph.D., acting director of the museum, noted that the newly acquired belongings from Col. Young represent a major augmentation to the important collection already owned by the museum. “The NAAMCC is an important cultural asset to the people of Ohio and anyone interested in the diverse and deep-rooted contributions by African Americans to our history. Having this rare and deeply appreciated gift in Wilberforce gives us a tremendous insight into the daily and public life of this exceptional Ohioan, who also happened to be African-American.”
The NAAMCC is temporarily closed for repairs, so the newly accessioned objects will not be available to the public for a period of time. The museum suffered the effects of lingering water damage earlier this year, and as a result mold was discovered inside the museum. The Ohio Historical Society, the nonprofit organization that oversees operations at the National Afro-American Museum, felt it was prudent to temporarily close the museum to determine the exact nature of the mold and the quality of the air in the building. Mycologists from The Ohio State were brought in for testing. The mold spores found in the museum were identified as a benign mold commonly found in daily surroundings. Since the temporary closing, the museum staff has continued its day-to-day duties in the Carnegie Building, which houses the administrative offices and collection storage area of the museum.
To see over 400 documents and letters from the digital collection of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center Collection related to African-American Ohioans including Charles Young, visit the online collection at Ohio Memory. In addition to read more on Young, Wilberforce and the digital collection of the NAAMCC visit: http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/enews/0211a.shtml
The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center is located at 1350 Brush Row Rd, 1/2 mile west of Route 42, adjacent to Central State University. For more information contact Sharon Dean, Director of Museum and Library Services for the Ohio Historical Society, at SDean@OhioHistory.org