African-American Heritage Collection

The presence of African Americans in the Youngstown area dates to the 1830’s; such figures as bricklayer P Ross Berry and Attorney William R Stewart, State Representative from 1896-1899, made significant contributions to the physical and cultural landscape of Youngstown during the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, it was not until the first half of the 20th century that blacks began to arrive en masse from the South, the peak of migration occurring between the World Wars, drawn to the then-thriving metropolis by the promise of work and relative prosperity that Youngstown’s industries could provide. There was still no shortage of adversity to contend with in the new northern environment, but this adversity was often met with courage and dignified determination to overcome discrimination and attain the equality on which the US Constitution is premised.

Family Stories

Letters, Documents, and Photographs

Oral Histories

  • Mary Abron:  Life in Youngstown as an African-American.
  • Ethel and Leroy Adams:  Experiences as African-Americans living in Youngstown  versus the South.
  • Herbert Armstrong:  Growing up in Youngstown in the 1920s and 1930s and his profession as a teacher and principal.
  • Isadore Blakeny:  Life in Youngstown during the 1930s through the 1950s.
  • Katherine and Governor Bowers:  Race relations in Youngstown.
  • Erskine Crenshaw:  His work and life in Youngstown.
  • Frankie Halfacre:  Racial tensions and his experience growing up in Youngstown in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Ernest Rheins:  His upbringing in the West Indies and Florida, and his relocation to Youngstown.
  • Lonnie A. Simon:  Segregation and his years as a pastor.
  • Edward Stonework Jr.: His father’s migration to Youngstown to be a “scab,” and life in Youngstown during the Depression years.
  • McCullough Williams Jr.:  His experiences living in Youngstown during the 1930s-1960s and his many years as an elected councilman.


Original scholarly studies

Michael A. Beverly, African-American Experience in Youngstown, 1940-1965.  Master’s Thesis from 2002.

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