Jim Crow Museum Entrance

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

Current News

***Attention***

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.

Museum Hours: The Jim Crow Museum will be closed to the public each Monday.  To view a continuously updated calendar of available days and hours, please visit this page: 

Location/Contact/Hours/Calendar

Jim Crow Museum Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour Image

The staff of the Jim Crow Museum is excited to share with the public a virtual tour of the facility. 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.

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.

A Man for This Season

Martin Luther King Jr.
"A Man for This Season" is a (written and video) narrative on the legacy of Dr. King.

Township Cinema

Township
Township mobile game used an image for a open-air cinema that appears to be from a 1930s or 40s black and white cartoon. The characters look very similar to the African savage caricatures of the time.

Topsy-Turvy dolls

Topsy-Turvy doll
Learn more about the history of Topsy-Turvy dolls in this month's Question to the Museum. 

Africa Before Slavery Timeline

Africa Before Slavery timeline
To go along with the Timeline at the Jim Crow Museum, museum Docent Cyndi created the first section of an interactive timeline.

Jim Crow Museum in the News

Colored Drinking fountain image
How Stuff Works recently published an article entitled "How Jim Crow Shaped America." The article mentions The Jim Crow Museum. Read this article and more through our Jim Crow Museum in the News page. 

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

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.

Watch a video of the Jim Crow Museum: History, Purpose and Vision


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


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.