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Heritage Documentation Programs celebrates National African American History Month

By Presidential Proclamation, Barack Obama designated February as National African American History Month. In honor of African American History Month, the Heritage Documentation Programs of the National Park Service explores the African American experience through architecture, engineering, and landscapes, as well as through mapping projects undertaken by the Cultural Resources Geographic Information Systems (CRGIS) program. Please join the Heritage Documentation Programs in celebrating the accomplishments of all Americans of African descent.

Featured Properties

HABS photo of Mary McLeod Bethune Council House
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
HABS DC-775
HABS DC-775-A
Washington, DC
Mary McLeod Bethune, in her multiple roles as educator, organizer, and public policy activist worked endlessly in pursuit of what she called, "the unalienable rights of citizenship for Black Americans."
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Contraband Slave Camp Mapping Project
CRGIS
Over the course of the Civil War thousands of slaves fled through Union lines to freedom and settled in contraband camps. This mass movement played a defining role in the eventual emancipation of 4 million slaves in a few short years.
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HAER photo of Red Oak Creek Bridge
Red Oak Creek Bridge
HAER GA-138
Woodburg, GA vicinity
Born a slave in 1807, Horace King purchased his own freedom by excelling in the design and building of physical structures. In addition to becoming a renowned southern bridge builder, King served two terms as a representative in the Alabama House of Representatives.
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Gullah-Geechee Cultural Resource Mapping Project
CRGIS
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia
The population known as the Gullah in the Carolinas and Geechee in Georgia, live and celebrate a unique culture shaped by West African, Native American And European interaction.
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HABS photo of Mary McLeod Bethune Council House
Carter G. Woodson House
HABS DC-369
Washington, DC
The Carter G. Woodson house was the home of the “Father of Black History.” In 1915, Dr. Woodson founded The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History which established Negro History Week. The house was Dr. Woodson’s home from 1915 until his death in 1950.
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HABS photo MLK birth home
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
HABS GA 1171
HABS GA 2169-A through HABS GA 2169-F
Atlanta, GA
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site is located in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Atlanta - the Upper Auburn Avenue area. As early as the 1880's Auburn Avenue became the center of Atlanta's black business and professional community. The interrelationship of residential, commercial, and religious architecture together with the strong African American cultural history is representative of the life and work of Dr. King.
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HALS drawing of Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island
HALS DC-12
Washington, DC
Reversing previous laws prohibiting Blacks from serving in the military, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, allowing for the recruitment and service of Blacks in the Union army. The 1st District of Columbia Colored Volunteers were stationed on Roosevelt Island; on June 30, 1863 the volunteer unit was renamed the 1st United States Colored Troops and was the first African American regiment formally mustered into federal service.
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HABS photo of school
The Rosenwald Schools: Cadentown
HABS No. KY-288
Lexington, KY
The adage, “knowledge is power,” summarizes the importance of education within the African American community. One of the ways in which this philosophy materialized was through a partnership between Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald, and African American communities throughout the South.
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Buffalo Soldiers Mapping Project
CRGIS
In 2002, the NPS and the Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (DSCESU) began a partnership with Howard University and Haskell Indian Nations University. Designed to give undergraduate history students experience in inventorying the significant data and sites associated with the Buffalo Soldiers and to foster cooperation among the African American and Native American communities, the effort was entitled, “The Warriors Project.” CRGIS created generalized point locations for 215 out of the total 250 identified sites, using existing data sources, such as the National Register of Historic Places, Federal land boundaries, National Park boundaries and the Geographic Names Information System created by US Geological Survey.
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HABS drawing of Sweet Auburn HD
Sweet Auburn Historic District
HABS GA-1170
HABS GA-1170-A through HABS GA-1170-C
Atlanta, GA
The phenomenal growth of African American enterprise in the post civil war period is typified by the “Sweet Auburn Historic District” located In Atlanta, Georgia. Civic and political leader, John Wesley Dobbs, referred to the bustling district as the richest street in the world!
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HABS photo of school
Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park, Kaiser Shipyards
HAER CA-326
HAER CA-326-A through HAER CA-326-O
Richmond, CA
During World War II, many African Americans flocked to the shipyards of Richmond, California, seeking economic and social opportunities not afforded to them in their former hometowns. The Henry J. Kaiser ship-building enterprise not only served the nation abroad by masterfully producing wartime vessels, but its producers laid a foundation at home which challenged unequal economic practices and the broader case of civil rights.
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HABS drawing of Sweet Auburn HD
Magnolia Plantation
HABS LA-1193
HABS LA-1193-A through HABS LA-1193-H
HAER LA-11
Natchitoches, LA
Magnolia Plantation is a destination on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. For a century after the war, the magnolia plantation served as a community center for creoles of color and blacks who resided and worked on the grounds as tenants and laborers.
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