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The Jim Crow Museum

Tour the Jim Crow museum with founder and curator, Dr. David Pilgrim. Dr. Pilgrim discusses some of the major themes of the Jim Crow Museum. Jim Crow was not just a character or a set of "laws", it was a system that built upon itself to create and sustain a society with a racial hierarchy.

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Traveling Exhibits

Hateful things

"Hateful Things"

From Aunt Jemima advertisements to the board game Ghettopoly, American popular culture is replete with racist images. The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia features an extensive collection of racist objects that trace the history of the stereotyping of African Americans.

Full Description of 'Hateful Things' Exhibit »



"THEM: Images of Separation," is a traveling exhibition that showcases items from popular culture used to stereotype different groups. The negative imagery -- found on postcards, license plates, games, souvenirs and costumes -- promoted stereotyping against such groups as Asian-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and poor whites, as well as those who are "other" in terms of body type or sexual orientation.

Full Description of 'Them' Exhibit » 

Special Features

Notable Visits 

…and it doesn't stop

The battle continues as racial images and items are produced daily. Objects with racist themes are created, produced, and sold weekly in the United States.

Understanding Jim Crow  

The Jim Crow Museum is proud to announce that the book "Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice" written by Dr. Pilgrim has been released.  Signed copies can also be purchased at the Museum using Check or Money Order for $20.00 tax included.


Gideon Smith  

From 1910 through 1928, a number of African American students attended Ferris Institute; many of them came from Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (known today as Hampton University). Many of these men were pioneers and trailblazers in their fields. 

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Bass Reeves  

So much of history is lost on us today. It would be a good idea to occasionally highlight an African American who made a difference in this country. You might start by introducing your viewers to Bass Reeves, the lawman. Find out more in this months Question of the Month. 

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Marlin Hurt as Beulah  

Did you know that the original Beulah character on the radio was played by actor Marlin Hurt? Find out more about Hurt and the Beulah character in this months Question of the Month.

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Royal Breeze Hotel Woodland Park  

Many know of Idlewild, Michigan, but have you heard of Woodland Park, Michigan? Find out more in this months Question of the Month.

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Maxwell House Show boat  

What types of racist ads were aired in the early days of radio? Find out more in this months Question of the Month.

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Richard Durham  

Richard Durham's Destination Freedom was a groundbreaking contribution to American history. Find out more in this months Question of the Month.

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Museum Information

The Jim Crow Museum is open and is FREE to the public. The Museum features six exhibit areas -- 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.

The Museum also offers a comprehensive timeline of the African American experience in the United States. The timeline is divided into six sections: Africa Before Slavery, Slavery in America, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights and Post Civil Rights.

The Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University strives to become a leader in social activism and in the discussion of race and race relations. This facility will provide increased opportunities for education and research. Please join us as we embark on this mission.

Regular hours are Monday thru Friday 12-5 p.m. Extended hours will be every other weekend from 12-5 as the campus calendar allows. Please consult the calendar. Group tours, please continue to make an appointment. To schedule a tour, please contact the museum at (231) 591-5873 or at jimcrowmuseum@ferris.edu. Please refer to the calendar of events for availability.

Museum Policy Update

For Children Visitors to the Jim Crow Museum Policy, please see Contact page.

Visitors to the Jim Crow Museum are prohibited from photographing or video recording any portions of the Museum.

Exceptions to this policy can be made at the sole discretion of Museum staff and might include special events, scholars who have made arrangements in advance of their visits, and credentialed members of the press.

The mission of the Jim Crow Museum is to use objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.

Objectives of the Jim Crow Museum

 The Museum's mission is achieved through the following objectives:

    • Collect, exhibit and preserve objects and collections related to racial segregation, anti-black caricatures, civil rights, and African American achievement.
    • Promote the scholarly examination of historical and contemporary expressions of racism.
    • Serve as a teaching resource for Ferris State University courses which deal, directly or indirectly, with the issues of race and ethnicity.
    • Serve as an educational resource for scholars and teachers at the state, national and international levels.
    • Promote racial understanding and healing.
    • Serve as a resource for civil rights and human rights organizations.



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