About Us


The Knox County Ohio Black History Digital Archives is a project of the Kenyon College Rural Life Center. The Archives are currently under the directorship of Kenyon Professor Ric S. Sheffield. Professor Sheffield can be contacted at sheffier@kenyon.edu

The KCOBHDA exist to provide the public with online free access to historical records of the Black community life and experience in Knox County, Ohio. Most of the artifacts contained in this collection have been made available from individuals, families, businesses, and institutions at no charge. Therefore, access and use of the archives is limited to non-commercial purposes. Use of these Archives for purposes that would constitute human subjects research (i.e. to test hypotheses, draw conclusions, inform policy, or contribute to generalizable knowledge) may require Institutional Review Board assessment and approval. For more information about possible IRB regulation, visit Kenyon Colllege's IRB website; Public acknowledgement and attribution of the source of any materials are conditions of such access or use.

The origin of the archives lies in the 1992-1993 American Studies Senior Seminar, directed by Prof. Howard Sacks and Prof. Ric Sheffield. They are the result of the dedication of those students and many who followed in partnership with local residents, both past and present, to help the Knox County Black Community reclaim its proud history and heritage. These Archives are made possible, in part, by funding from the Ohio Humanities Council in addition to continuing support from Kenyon College and the Rural Life Center.

The Community Within was conducted as part of the senior seminar in American Studies at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, 1992-1993. The project was directed by Professors Howard L. Sacks and Ric S. Sheffield, and conducted by Matthew C. Gladue ’93, David T. Goodwillie ’94, Patrick D. Jones ’93, Jamal I. King ’95, Tamara V. Parson ’93, Todd Patterson ’93, and V. Lusanne Segre ’95.

We are indebted to George Booker and Betty Ralls Rouse Proffit for their extraordinary contribution to this project and to other members of the Knox County community who aided in planning and implementation: Gary Akers, Ruth Akers, Beatrice Berg, Joseph Berg, Lori Boyd, Joe Brooks, Allison Brown, Rev. Eric Brown, Richard Carter, Janice Cates, Charles Chancellor, Charles Duckworth, Desiree Frederick-Drye, Elder Calvin Freeman, Barbara Glover, Edward Harvey, Richard Herndon, Lisa Hill, Charles Hogan, Jr., John Hogan, Mary Hogan, Duane Johnson, George Lawson, Oneida Lawson, Andrew Lewis, Emily Lindsey, Robert Madison, Diane Ryuse, Debra Sheffield-Harris, Gregg Sheffield, Earlene Spencer, Evans Spencer, Mary Stevens, William Stevens, Ben Stoltz, Beulah Taylor, Russell Taylor, Christa Thompson, Karen Sheffield-Towns, James Turner, Cindy Wallace, Pedro Wallace, and Mary Jane White.

Special thanks to Shelby Headlee, Holly Hoornstra, Bette Fetters, Mary McGavick, Michael Matros, Brian Miller, Susie Prince, Jo Rice, Judy Sacks, Ellen Sheffield, Scott Siddall, Eleanor Vernon, and Kelly Wilder.

The Community Within was made possible through the support of the Mount Vernon Community Trust, the Knox County Historical Society, and at Kenyon College, the Office of the President, the Office of the Chaplain, the American Studies Program, the Department of Anthropology/Sociology, and the Department of History. Additional support was provided by a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Knox County Black History Digital Archives, born from The Community Within, was made possible through the support of the Ohio Humanities Council, Kenyon College's Rural Life Center, and the fine staff and administrators of the Library and Information Services department at Kenyon College. Special thanks go out to the Mt. Vernon News, the Mount Vernon City Schools, and the Knox County Historical Museum for granting permission to reprint or publish photographs and articles originally appearing or belonging to them.

The Digital Archives owes a debt of gratitude to many persons too numerous to mention. Still, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the work of some of the student research assistants who have contributed their time and energies: Jordan Brooks, Christian Martinez-Canchola, Jenny Colmenero, Damaris Garduno, Thomas Mattes, Stella Naulo, Camille Sheffield, Cuy Sheffield, and Katie Walker. Technical expertise and assistance in creating the website and maintaining it was graciously provided by Jason Bennett, Julia Glynn Warga, Abigail Miller, and Joseph Murphy; Megan Frazer's talents were most responsible for the successful first launch of the website.