HSH, Black History Month 2024, & African American & Black History in the Archives

Early 20th century picture postcard / photograph of the junction at Tanner and Haddon, showing the site now occupied by the Haddonfield Public Library, with the original wooden house that stood there.Over the past few months, two important HSH projects have been in development.

The first of these is a guide to items in the Patricia Lennon Archives Center that pertain to African American and Black history. Dana Dorman, our previous archivist, had identified numerous relevant documents in the PLAC collections; we are now arranging these documents by material type, including some explanatory and framing material, and adding links to external resources. We’re working hard to put the finishing touches on this and plan to launch it in the last week of this February. Once launched, the page will not be a static resource but updated as we find or acquire new archival documents.

If you’re a society member or on our mailing list, you will already have read a little about the second project in our newsletter’s recent issues. For our second project, and thanks to the generous support of the Haddonfield Foundation and the Rotary Club of Haddonfield Foundation, we have been able to send four important archival documents to conservators at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia.

These four documents have special significance for us at the Historical Society of Haddonfield and in Haddonfield more generally. All four relate to the ownership of property on the lot that we now call Library Point, which belonged in the early nineteenth century to Attee Leeman—the first known African American property owner in the Borough and a charter member of the Fire Company when it was reincorporated in 1811. The four documents are the legal agreements for Mr. Leeman taking ownership of the property, his mortgage, and the transfer of property after his death. You can read more about Mr. Leeman in Muneerah Higgs and Shamele Jordon’s African American Haddonfield History Cards, published in 2022 (and if you don’t have your own copy, you can find one in our Pamphlet Collection under Pam 974.9 H No. 292)—and you can read more about the house in which Mr. Leeman lived and its eventual location in Helen Stevens Mountney’s Haddonfield on the Move (there are copies at the Patricia Lennon Archives Center and in our online store). Now the location of Haddonfield Public Library (and once also of the Historical Society), Library Point has remained an important site of cultural heritage for the Borough.

Both projects are part of our commitment to African American and Black history as an important part of Haddonfield’s history. Not only have these projects been in development for many months (even years) but we believe that these projects will be important for anyone researching African American and Black history in Haddonfield and the wider Camden County area—both in Black History Month and beyond.