The African-American Heritage of St. Louis: A Guide

Copyright: St. Louis Public Library, February 1992
1301 Olive Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63103
Electronic Editor's Introduction:

This electronic publication is taken from the printed guide produced by the St. Louis Public Library in 1992. The St. Louis Public Library has graciously consented to allow it to be digitized by the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), Thomas Jefferson Library, Reference Department, so that it may be used on the UM-St. Louis Gopher and Blackstudies website [10/97]. The copy presented here on this Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law, site mirrors the UMSL files [9/01].

The ultimate goal is to have an `interactive' edition of this publication to be used with an electronic, St. Louis-area map. The printed edition does include an area map and the `Item' numbers found in this electronic edition refer to physical locations which will be repeated on the interactive map.

This publication was chosen because of the hard-to-find nature of the information contained in it. Very few changes were made to the text; post-1992 death dates were added, some geographic descriptions were added or augmented. Any changes or additions have been placed in square brackets [ ]. Due to these changes, this electronic version should be considered a separate edition from its printed parent.

Introduction to the Guide

by Glen E. Holt, Executive Director of the St. Louis Public Library
African Americans have played an integral role in St. Louis history and culture from the founding of the community in 1764. Not until the 20th century, however, did extensive migrations from the South swell their ranks to more than ten percent of the population. As their numbers increased, their contributions to the cultural life in the community expanded as well.

In spite of their numbers and their long-time connection with the city, St. Louis' African American history remains relatively inaccessible. This publication is a small effort to make that history more available.

This guide includes forty-six selected sites with religious, educational, artistic, and/or cultural significance. Most of the sites are in the City of St. Louis. A few others are in St. Louis County. The guide also contains lists of streets and St. Louis public schools named for African Americans.

Urban redevelopment has eliminated many sites important in the history and culture of St. Louis African Americans. Their first neighborhood, in existence before the Civil War, northwest of what was then downtown, is now covered with highways and high-rise buildings. The Mill Creek Valley community areas, which appeared in the last third of the 19th century, suffered a similar fate. Cultural and architectural manifestations of the more recent Ville neighborhood are easier to find.

Persons using this guide should note that some of the sites in this publication are private properties not open to the public. Churches are generally open only during services or by appointment. All sites are accessible by automobile.

Like its earlier predecessor, The German-American Heritage of St. Louis: A Guide, published by St. Louis Public Library in 1991, this African American heritage guide is hardly definitive. We expect to publish a second edition, and we encourage those who use this guide to suggest sites for inclusion in that listing. In the meantime, we hope that this publication will help local residents and visitors become more aware of the rich African American heritage of St. Louis. This publication is issued in conjunction with St. Louis Public Library's celebration of Black History Month for 1992. We are grateful to Boatmen's Banks for its financial support for this celebration and, thereby, for helping underwrite this publication.

Scott Joplin House State Historic Site

Neighborhood Index:

In Memoriam: Alex Haley
Comments and feedback are welcome. Please direct them to:
Anne Taylor, or 935-4829 
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