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NMAAHC History Collections

The history collections of the NMAAHC show the breadth, depth and diversity of African American experiences in America. These objects, documents and images give us insight into the everyday lives of ordinary families. They document the accomplishments of well-known and relatively unknown individuals. They illustrate the activities of social organizations and political movements from the 17th century to the present.

Campaign banners supporting Barack Obama for president; a hat worn by a railway sleeping car porter; a pew from Chicago’s famed Quinn Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; a set of shackles worn by enslaved Africans as they were shipped to North America; a powder horn carried into battle by Prince Simbo, an African American from Connecticut who fought in the Revolutionary War . . . the list goes on and on.

The museum’s history collections will represent the home life, occupational and work experiences, political activities, religious convictions, social experiences and cultural expressions of African Americans across time and place.

Homemade campaign banner, Columbia, MO, 2008.  Made by campaign volunteers, this cloth banner was signed by supporters of Barack Obama and hung in his campaign office in Columbia, MO, Gift of Tony Saudek.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Gift of the Mid-Missouri Campaign Field Office, Columbia, MO



Church Pew No. 58, c.1891.  Gift of Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Chicago, IL.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois



Shackles, probably West African, pre-1863.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture



Powder horn, Prince simbo, Glastonbury, CT, 1777.  Image courtesy of Mark Mitchell.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture