Established in 1996 by former sociology professor David Pilgrim, the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University preserves and interprets a difficult history. The museum's exhibits are drawn largely from Pilgrim's personal collection of artifacts from the early 1900s that depicted African Americans as less than human. The museum uses these racist objects and ideas, scholarly evaluates them and in so doing promotes racial healing.


  • The museum is located in the lower level of the Ferris State University library.
    The museum is located in the lower level of the Ferris State University library.

      The museum collection creates a timeline of the life of Jim Crow and the policies associated with it through six displays-- Who and What is Jim Crow, Jim Crow Violence, Jim Crow and Anti-Black Imagery, Battling Jim Crow Imagery, Attacking Jim Crow Segregation, and Beyond Jim Crow. Within, one will encounter segregationist publications, anti-black caricatures, and other forms of racist propaganda from the Jim Crow era. The term "Jim Crow" originated in the late 1830s inspired from the dance "Jump Jim Crow", which was performed in blackface. Based on the popularity of the show it became a common slur used for African Americans.


      The "Jim Crow Laws" s began in 1877, during the reconstruction of the United States after the Civil War. The Southern states adopted a set of laws used to segregate blacks, they were termed "Jim Crow Laws”, after the popular “Jim Crow” slur. "Jim Crow" shaped and reflected how white people saw African Americans. The laws affected almost every aspect of daily life, mandating segregation of schools, parks, libraries, drinking fountains, restrooms, buses, trains, and restaurants. "Whites Only" and "Colored" signs were constant reminders of the enforced racial order. The Jim Crow system was upheld by local government officials and reinforced by violence. The museum has displays of KKK propaganda to show its connection to the enforcement of the “Jim Crow Laws”.
   

      The Museum concentrates on the racial stereotypes and propaganda that began during the "Jim Crow Laws". These materials were distributed around America as jokes and gag gifts that is still relevant in America today. In the center of the Museum stands a tree with branches, titled the hanging tree in memory of the many African American lives lost in the south. The Museum includes in its collection, Nazi propaganda along with other hate and racially based memorabilia.

     The Museum was recently moved and reorganized allowing for an extension in to today's racial propaganda items. As well as added space, the Museum has updated collections using interactive technology to tell the narrative of the collection. The founder of The Jim Crow Museum, Dr. David Pilgrim, one of the country's leading experts on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity, and race. He is the Vice President for diversity and inclusion at Ferris State University, where the museum is located. The museum's goal and the slogan are "Using Objects of Intolerance to Teach Tolerance and promote Social Justice." The museum is only recommended for adults and mature young people.

About the Jim Crow Museum. Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Ferris State University. . Accessed August 23, 2018. https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/more.htm.