Clio Logo

The Family Heritage House Museum explores the history and culture of African Americans in Manatee County and the rest of the country. It was founded by Fredi and Ernest L. Brown Jr. in 1990 and is housed in the Library & Learning Center building on the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota campus. A variety of items are on display in the museum's exhibits including artifacts, photographs, and clothing. The museum also contains research collections and offers genealogy research assistance. Items of note in the collections include artifacts and documents related to local family histories, memorabilia from Nelson Mandela's election, and artifacts related to slavery and the Civil War.

The museum is located inside the Library & Learning Center building, which was erected in 2018.

Cloud, Plant, Sky, Building

Fredi and Ernest Brown in 1999.

Picture frame, Event, Eyewear, T-shirt

Fredi and Ernest Brown were academics of journalism and education. Fredi studied journalism at Florida A&M University and graduated in 1944. She got a job writing advertising copy with a black-owned newspaper in Kansas City, Missouri. It was there that she met Ernest, who was a reporter for the newspaper. By 1946, they had settled in Detroit, got married and started a family (they would go on to have three boys and one daughter). Over the next thirty years Fredi worked in the community in a variety of capacities including counseling teen substance abusers, assisting the GED program, teaching English to incarcerated women, and establishing a library in a housing and community development center.

Amidst the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s the and Detroit riots of 1967, the Browns began collecting photographs, documents, books, newspaper clippings and other items pertaining to the African American experience in America. They recognized the importance of saving these materials for future generations to better understand the history and contributions of African Americans in the United States. The Browns continued to collect these materials after they moved to Bradenton in 1974.

By 1990, the collection had grown significantly. They decided to share it with the public and established the museum, which was housed in a trailer behind a Head Start office in east Bradenton. The president of Manatee Community College, where Fredi worked as a recruiter and equal/access opportunity coordinator, heard about the museum and started a fundraising campaign to erect a building for it. The next president took up the effort and oversaw its completion in 2000. The museum moved to its present location in 2018 when the Library & Learning Center was built.

"About Us." Family Heritage House Museum. Accessed April 30, 2017.

"Celebrate Black History Month with SCF and Family Heritage House Museum." State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. February 14, 2023.

Jones, James A. "Fredi Brown, who helped bring Black history museum to Bradenton, has died at 97. Bradenton Herald. March 15, 2021.

Long, Alicia. "The Family Heritage House: A Unique Museum-Collecte Library Partnership." Bradenton Campus Library, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture: