Jim Crow Museum Entrance

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

Current News

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The museum continues to be closed to the public.  Please explore our virtual tour options to experience the museum and its collection.

As a precaution to reduce COVID-19 (coronavirus) exposure, the Jim Crow Museum will be closed beginning March 16, 2020, until further notice. Obviously, we do this with a heavy heart. We will update the general public as information becomes available.

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.

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.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm image
Shirley Chisholm will be featured in an upcoming animation video produced by Kendall College of Art and Design, Digital Art and Design students. Here is the reference script for the animation. Read more

Lovecraft Country Chronicles Podcast

Lovecraft Country image
Dr. Pilgrim joined Mia Johnson and Natalie Zamora on Fansided Lovecraft Country Chronicles Podcast to talk about "What was the Jim Crow Era Really like?"Listen here

Rube Foster

Foster with Otsego
Andrew 'Rube' Foster will be featured in an upcoming animation video produced by Kendall College of Art and Design, Digital Art and Design students. Here is the reference script about Rube Foster for the animation. Read more

Double V Campaign

Double V Campaign
During World War II, the Pittsburgh Courier ran a weekly series called the “Double V” campaign. The campaign was an effort of the paper to bring about changes in the United States in regard to race relations. The campaign demanded that African Americans, who were risking their lives in the war, be given full citizenship rights at home. Read more

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.

Jim Crow Museum Campaign Materials

History is Calling
Download and share Jim Crow Museum messages. These images utilize the images from the Jim Crow Museum collection.

Jim Crow Museum in the News

JCM Wall
Read some of the articles that have appeared in the news about howthe Jim Crow Museum is fighting for a more just society. 

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.

The Banjo

The banjo
In this month’s Question for the Museum, we examine the history of the banjo in African and African American culture.

Lawn Jockey Legends

Lawn Jockeys
There are many lawn jockey legends. In this installment of Questions for the Museum, we explore a couple of them. 

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

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.

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 [email protected]. Please refer to the calendar of events for availability.

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.