The Museum of African American History holds a collection of over 3,000 items accrued over fifty years. Selections from the Collection features samples of our historical artifacts and art collection providing a lens unique to the narrative of African-descended people, places and events in America.

These historical artifacts chronicle a story that begins on the African continent, moves across the Middle Passage, anchors itself in Boston’s Harbor in 1638 with the arrival of the ?rst documented kidnapped Africans on the slave ship, The Desire, and progresses to the establishment of a free black community on Beacon Hill in the late 1700s. These artifacts tell the real stories of Boston’s free black and abolitionist community who built gathering places, created organizations of agency and networked with others to claim their rights and to define their own identity for their own purposes.

From the Museum’s art collection, the exhibit includes the photography of Hamilton Sutton Smith and paintings by Allan Rohan Crite. Smith, born in Boston in 1857, used the heavy camera equipment and glass plate negatives of his time to document people and scenes he encountered at home and during his travels. Crite was born in 1910 and lived in Boston most of his life. His paintings portrayed religious themes and African American everyday life.

Selections from the Collection authenticates the important and critical role Boston’s small but mighty black community played in the national story–from this country’s earliest days into the 20th century.