Jim Crow Collectibles & Black Memorabilia

As Rosa Parks is honored today, many Americans remember the fight for racial equality in their time, and the Jim Crow era is still part of their personal memories, or family histories. Increasingly, black memorabilia is in high demand among serious collectors.
Black Enterprise magazine and the Wall Street Journal have touted Black memorabilia as worthwhile investments. Essence, a leading Black magazine, even gave a short tutorial on how to shop for these items. Blacks are now as likely as Whites to collect Black memorabilia -- including racist memorabilia -- and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Spike Lee are avid collectors. Although some Blacks collect racist items as "investments," many Blacks, including Winfrey and Lee, collect the material to remind themselves and others of America's racist past. These collectors, regardless of their motivations, are exhausting the available supply of original Black-related items. The price of authentic Black-related memorabilia has escalated as fewer older pieces remain on the market. This escalation in prices has significant consequences: Jim Crow era artifacts are increasingly found in the elite collections of wealthy individuals or organizations, and the demand for cheaper Jim Crow styled items has spurred a flourishing reproductions market.
The Jim Crow era in the United States extended from the mid-1870s to the mid-1960s; consequently, most of the racist artifacts in the Ferris State University Jim Crow Museum were produced and distributed during that period.

Loyalist communities in Canada were safe havens for refugee slaves in the black history of the United States and Canada.
The Underground Railroad was not actually a train but rather a name given to a loosely organized system which helped fugitive slaves and free Blacks find freedom in Canada. On August 1, 1834, the British Imperial Act abolishing slavery went into effect in British controlled areas worldwide, including Canada. Since slavery continued in the United States, both Black and white abolitionists assisted Black people through providing them with financial support, directions, shelter, food or transportation. Later, the American Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 forced freedom-seeking African Americans, and often those who helped them, to leave the United States and enter Canada. The Underground Railroad ended after the American Civil War and the end of American slavery.

Our collections include excellent examples of rare Jim Crow collectibles and black memorabilia.


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