Jim Crow Museum Entrance

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia: Using objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.

Current News

Help support the Mission of the Jim Crow Museum to use objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice. Donate Today!!!


The Jim Crow Museum is now open to the public. Regular open hours will be Tuesday through Friday Noon to 5pm.  Self-guided group tours are available by appointment during open hours.  Maximum group size will be limited—Please contact the Museum office at [email protected] or (231) 591-5873 for more information and to book a tour.  Under current University guidelines it is required that a mask that covers the mouth and nose be worn indoors in all buildings on the Big Rapids campus effective August 12, 2021. This applies to all faculty, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

Visitors to campus must have a guest parking permit, or park at a meter.  Free parking permits are available at this link:    https://wwws.ferris.edu/dps/guestpermit/

We look forward to seeing our patrons again and continuing our mission of using objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.”

The Jim Crow Museum virtual tour will still be available.  Please explore our virtual tour options to experience the museum and its collection.

Jim Crow Museum Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour Image
Please see our updated virtual tour. This tour gives our virtual visitors an opportunity to learn about the museum. View tour

A special thanks to Real Space of Grand Rapids for working with us to create this tool.

Howard+Revis Selected as Exhibit Design Firm for the Future Jim Crow Museum Project

New JCM Facility rendering
Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum has selected Washington D.C.-based design firm Howard+Revis to lead the expanded exhibition space development for the future 31,130-square-foot stand-alone building on the Big Rapids campus. Read More

Jim Crow Traveling Kit

Small stove
Have you ever heard of a Jim Crow Traveling Kit? In 1922, a Minister from Massachusetts developed the kit and described the filthy travel conditions in Jim Crow train cars. Read More in this months Question to the Museum. 

Preserving Hateful Objects

JCM Objects
How does the museum staff daily deal with all the hateful and harmful items in the Jim Crow Museum?  Read More

The Green Book

The Green Book
With Jim Crow looming over the country, the motto on the cover doubled as a warning: “Carry your Green Book with you—You may need it.”  Read More

Pullman Porters

Pullman Porters
Pullman Porters helped fuel the Great Migration, shaped the Black middle class, and laid groundwork for the Civil Rights movement. Read More

Lynching Picnic

Lynching Picnic
Although the origins of the word "picnic" and its relation to the lynching of black men in the United States has been addressed by the Jim Crow Museum in the past, this article explores some newspaper accounts referring to "Lynching Picnics." Read More


Davidson image thumb
The exhibition, Time of Change, presents 30 photographs, each representative of Bruce Davidson’s talents, but more importantly, the images document the struggle for justice, equality, and desegregation during a time of Freedom Rides, protests, marches, and police violence. Come see the exhibition at the Ferris State Fine Art Gallery from June 7 - September 11, 2021

Maggie Lena Walker

Maggie Lena Walker
Maggie Lena Walker was the first woman, black or white, to serve as president of a banking institution in the United States. Read more about Maggie Lena Walker in this month's Question for the Museum.

Black Entrepreneurship

The National Negro Business League predated the United States Chamber of Commerce by 12 years. Read more about Black Entrepreneurship in this months, Question to the Museum.


Redlining, practiced from the 1930s – 1960s, blocked African Americans from obtaining homes, home loans, and home repairs and remains a major factor in the wealth gap between Black and white families. Read More

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the US Congress and was the first African American from a major party to run for President and the first woman in the Democratic party to run. This animation is a collaborative project by the students and faculty of Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) and the Jim Crow Museum as part of The EPIC Project. http://epicsite.org/

Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price
Leontyne Price will be featured in an upcoming animation video produced by Kendall College of Art and Design, Digital Art and Design students. Here is the expanded script for the animation
Read More

Jim Crow Museum Awarded Grant

Pilgrim with a Davidson image
Michigan Humanities Grant to further Jim Crow Museum intentions for Bruce Davidson Civil Rights Photographs.
Read More

Harlem Hellfighters

The 369th Infantry, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, will be featured in an upcoming animation video produced by Kendall College of Art and Design, Digital Art and Design students. Here is the expanded script for the animation
Read More

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian magazine photo
Read an article written by Dr. Pilgrim for the Smithsonian Folklife Magazine. The article explores the origins of the Jim Crow Museum, some of the teaching methods, and the belief in the triumph of dialogue.
Read More

Video Spotlight

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.

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.

THEM: Images of Separation

THEM: Images of Separation

"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.

 Special Features

Book - Haste to Rise

Haste to Rise
The book Haste to Rise: A Remarkable Experience of Black Education during Jim Crow is now available for purchase through PM Press. Get your copy today.

Book - Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors

Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors book cover

Dr. David Pilgrim new book, Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors: Stories from the Jim Crow Museum is available for purchase through PM Press.

Get your copy today.

Book - Understanding Jim Crow

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

Dr. Pilgrim TEDx Talk

Dr. Pilgrim TEDx Talk
Dr. David Pilgrim tells the story of how he established the Jim Crow Museum--a unique teaching tool to help people gain a new perspective on racism in America. April 2019

Dr. Pilgrim on CNN Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism

Dr. Pilgrim CNN 2nd time
Dr. Pilgrim appeared on CNN Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism on June 21, 2020 to talk about Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and other racial caricatures used in advertisements.

Dr. Pilgrim on CNN:America in Crisis

Dr. Pilgrim CNN
Dr. David Pilgrim appeared on CNN:America in Crisis with Kate Bolduan on June 12, 2020.

C-SPAN3 American Artifacts

CSPAN3 Pilgrim and Tiedt
Watch Dr. Pilgrim and Cyndi Tiedt talk about the Jim Crow Museum and demonstrate how everyday objects were used to dehumanize African Americans throughout the history of the United States on C-SPAN3's American Artifacts. Originally aired October 25, 2020. Watch here

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.

Jim Crow Museum Educational Programming

Educational Programming
The Jim Crow Museum is pleased to announce a dedicated educational programming website.  The website will include links to curriculum developed by the Education Coordinator, as well as professional development resources for educators.

Virtual Tours

Cyndi Virtual Tour Image
The museum offers several options for virtual tours of the exhibits. Free public tours are held every Tuesday at 1pm EST.  Other options include private group tours and a pre-recorded video.

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.

Mission and Objectives of the Jim Crow Museum

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

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.

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 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.

Visitors needing assistance

Visitors with disabilities requiring assistance or accommodation to access any portion of this website may contact the Diversity and Inclusion Office at (231) 591-3946, Educational Counseling & Disabilities Services at (231) 591-3057, or the Office of Equal Opportunity at (231) 591-2152.

Patrons with disabilities may contact the museum with questions regarding access to the museum's physical space and contents. The Museum has a wheelchair which patrons may use during their visit, provided as a courtesy to patrons. We do not provide personal attendants or mobility services, however.