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African Americans have been inhabiting and working in the state of Wisconsin since the 18th century. Most of the first African Americans in Wisconsin were enslaved people. When the French Military arrived in 1746, their leader possessed an African slave. Additionally any white settlers arrived in the area to mine lead and brought slaves with them. African Americans have held a very rich history and culture in the area and have contributed much to the region in a number of different ways. As the centuries passed, the African American population continued to grow as opportunities began to open following WWII. The Wisconsin Black Historical Society seeks to honor and preserve the rich African American History in the state of Wisconsin. The museum collects, displays, and exhibits all different kinds of memorabilia depicting this rich culture and heritage.


  • Picture of a young African American family from Wisconsin
  • Picture from Website depicting the Historical Society

Wisconsin has a rich history of African American life and settlement.  Many of the first African Americans that ventured into the state were slaves during the late 18th century.  Later Wisconsin African Americans served in the Civil War after the Emancipation Proclamation allowed them to join the union.  More than 200 African American troops fought alongside the victorious Union. African Americans likewise long contributed to the Wisconsin economy, political and educational systems, as well as everyday life and society. 

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society keeps a museum with exhibits rich in history and culture from the African American way of life in the state of Wisconsin.  It has a wealth of memorabilia and artifacts that depict an older way of life and culture in the state and region.  The museum is housed in a former 1924-era movie theater, with reminders of a by-gone era even in its architecture.  It is one of very few museums or sites in Wisconsin dedicated to preserving African American heritage and culture.

The museum's long-term exhibits narrow in on key themes that have had major influence on African Americans in Wisconsin, as well as across the country.  Diverse exhibits include aspects of the African American labor, the NAACP Civil Rights tribute bus exhibit, and more. Visitors with an interest in civil rights or African American history will enjoy the chance to take a look back in time at Milwaukee's African American community over the centuries.

http://www.wbhsm.org/Home.htm http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=Ny:True,Ro:0,N:4294963828-4294963805&dsNavOnly=N:1165&dsRecordDetails=R:CS502&dsDimensionSearch=D:black+history,Dxm:All,Dxp:3&dsCompoundDimensionSearch=D:black+history,Dxm:All,Dxp:3