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.

Exhibit Single
John J. Smith

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.