In 1980, Onondaga Community College Professor Barbara Davis set out to collect a variety of photographic and ephemeral materials that would document African-American life and history in the Syracuse area. The region was home many early abolitionists and civil rights advocates.
Established in 1918, the Dunbar Center continues to serve the historically black community in the south side of Syracuse by offering a range of programs and community services. Early in its history, the Dunbar Center served as a support center for black families migrating north to take advantage of plentiful factory jobs, and more recently the center has shifted its focus to serve its community's evolving needs.
Scope of Collection
The collection includes photographs and documents relating to African Americans in the Syracuse region. The photographs depict black soldiers and local religious leaders, as well as individuals engaged in community life, sports, and social organizations, including involvement with the Dunbar Center. Ephemera from this collection includes clippings from nineteenth century newspapers and journals, as well as a handbill offering a reward for an escaped slave. The materials date from early 19th century to mid-20th century; many are undated.