If it’s February it’s “African American History Month!”
At MidPointe Library we’re ready to help you observe the occasion with our vast supply of materials for all ages in all forms, on-shelf and online.
One quick and easy way to begin your research on prominent African Americans from the Middletown, Ohio, area, is to access their names on MidPointe Library’s catalog search page, advises Adam Wanter, Digital and Special Collections Archivist.
Information about the collection in which their names appear, titled “African Americans - Black History Month Profiles,” is accessible via MidPointe’s website :
Then stop by MidPointe-Middletown’s local-history hub, “The Ohio Room,” to read the personality sketches described in the catalog. They were originally published in the Middletown Journal in the 1990s.
You’ll find them tucked within a folder titled “African Americans - Black History Month Profiles” in the “Vertical File,” a cabinet spanning the length of the Ohio Room’s north wall.
Journal editors credited local writer Cheryl Wilson and then-local NAACP President Louie Cox and its local membership for creating and maintaining the biographical series. Other individuals also contributed information, they added.
In an accompanying editorial, they stressed that the Journal series “...is not presented as a complete list of all the blacks whose lives were spent in this community.” Instead, they wrote, the series is “representative” of African Americans and “the roles they played in our area’s history.”
The “Black History Month Profiles” have retained their value as a research source for years, Wanter said. “They provide a concise, detailed and absorbing introduction to the African-American men and women who contributed so greatly to the area.” Photos of the esteemed individuals are also included.
Like other Ohio Room materials, the file and its contents cannot be checked out on a library card. However, the individual profile copies can be reproduced on copy machines onsite, Wanter said.
At MidPointe Library, providing sources of local history about African Americans is very important. Another is our “Digital Archives.”
Included in our Digital Archives are photos and information on former Middletown City Commissioner James “Choppy” Saunders, former slave Peter Bruner, the Civil War Black Brigade, Middletown native and nationally-known journalist Clarence Page, Middletown School Board member Ebie Banks, among many others.
During your research, don’t forget to peruse copies of local newspapers from years past onMidPointe-Middletown’s microfilm machines, Wanter advised. Located near the Ohio Room, these popular machines stand ready with copies of the Middletown Journal and the Middletown Daily Signal dating from the late 1800s to the present.
Microfilm “provides a look back at the news as it was actually reported” and “is a valuable tool for all varieties of research,” Wanter added. Newspaper pages and articles can be digitally copied from the microfilm.
Another valuable resource at MidPointe-Middletown is the “African American History Timeline” that appears on a 70-inch interactive touch-screen in the Local History and Genealogy Gallery (adjacent to the Ohio Room). The timeline was originally compiled by the Middletown African American Heritage and Cultural Center, Wanter said.
A must-see on your historical quest, the spacious Local History and Genealogy Gallery is brimming with books, magazines and displays of local interest and beyond. Unlike material in the Ohio Room, items in the Gallery can be checked out on your library card.
At MidPointe Library, we consider history a vital part of the present. That’s why we invite patrons to utilize our many resources: