The mission of the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City, Inc. is to collect, preserve and make available to the public materials documenting the social, economic, political and cultural histories of persons of African American descent in the central United States, with particular emphasis in the Kansas City, Missouri region. Black Archives of Mid-America is an educational resource and provides access to its collections for research, exhibition and publication to honor our community heritage and to catalyze public awareness.
History & Founder of the Black Archives
The Black Archives of Mid America, Inc. was founded May 8th, 1974 by Horace M. Peterson III and initially located at 1821 Paseo in the old Paseo Y.M.C.A. building. In 1976, the Black Archives moved to 2033 Vine, old Firehouse No.11. The firehouse, located in Kansas City’s Historic 18th and Vine District, itself is representative of African American history in this region as it was home to the first Black fire company in Kansas City. It was built in 1931 as part of the Work’s Progress Administration period under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Black Archives is a non-profit organization that serves the community by offering itself as an educational resource as well as a repository of every facet in African American culture; music, art , theater, education, the military, medicine, sports, religion and community affairs. The Black Archives was expressly created to collect and preserve the history of African Americans in the Midwest. Beyond our original emphasis of research and critical examination, the Archives’ traveling exhibits personify the roles of African Americans and their plight to dispel negative images. Our interpretive and educational programs, research services and special projects have received overwhelming community support.
It was Peterson’s dream to see an invigorated 18th and Vine District that showcased the contributions of African Americans. His exemplary efforts became reality with the anticipated move of the Black Archives to a larger facility located in the heart of this Historic District. Other projects envisioned by Peterson include the Kansas City Jazz Museum, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Gem Theater; all landmarks in the 18th and Vine District.