April 5, 2013
After being canceled twice because of weather, the Rose M. Nolen Black History Library will host its open house Saturday.
“I believe it’s supposed to be in the 70s Saturday so we shouldn’t have any blizzards to worry about,” said Library Co-Chair Marge Harlan with a laugh.
The open house, which is free and open to the public, will feature a dedication by Mayor Elaine Horn, presentations about the library’s books and artifacts and various speakers. Attendants will also have a chance to win an underground railroad-themed quilt.
A few years ago Harlan and her late husband, Jerry, bought Nolen’s home in the hopes of turning it into a museum dedicated to African Americans’ history in Pettis County.
Nolen, author of “Hoecakes, Hambone and all that Jazz” which chronicles black history in mid-Missouri, told the Democrat previously she wanted to use the library as a way to preserve the “daily life struggles” of area African-Americans.
“There are a lot of things that have been lost,” she said. “For example, there were a lot of little towns that sprang up in Pettis County after the end of slavery — Lincolnville was an African-American community just outside Lincoln. They really struggled to build these communities. They didn’t have sites plotted out or things organized. They had to do everything themselves.”
Harlan said while the Nolen Library has “plenty of artifacts and displays about African-American history,” she hopes it to be a living library where attendants can bring in their own families’ histories to donate to its archives.
“If anyone has anything they’d like to see, we have the technology to digitize it so it can be part of the library’s offerings,” she said. “We also plan to have new displays. Starting Wednesday, we’ll have a wonderful display about the Civil War that was previously shown in Arrow Rock.”
Harlan said she hoped for a good turnout Saturday.
“I think this is so important, that Pettis County and Sedalia have a museum like this,” she said. “To finally have this project, which we’ve been working on for years, ready to go, I’m very glad. I can’t wait to see how everything turns out.”
The Rose M. Nolen Black History Library is open by appointment. For more information call 851-0077 or go to rosemnolen
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Rose M. Nolen Black History Library
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: 109 Lima Alley
COST: Free and open to the public