Michigan St. Baptist Church Directory Coming Home

"Lost" historic artifact will reside in Reverend J. Edward Nash Museum

Release Date: February 22, 2006 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The original directory of the historic Michigan Street Baptist Church, missing for more than 50 years, has been found and will be presented to Michigan Street Preservation Corp. in a ceremony at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 23, 2006) in the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Ct., Buffalo.

The directory, a three-by-five-foot, black-and-gold sign that stood in front of the church and announced its name and service hours, was installed in 1902 and disappeared shortly after World War II.

The ceremony and reception that follows will be open to the public and free of charge. The presentation will be by the principles of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc., Peggy Brooks-Bertram, Ph.D., D.P.H., and Barbara Nevergold, who retrieved the directory.

Brooks-Bertram is a research associate in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and the Department of African American Studies, UB College of Arts and Sciences. Nevergold is coordinator of student personnel services at UB's Educational Opportunity Center.

For a good part of its lost years, the director was in the possession of the late Sol Sloan, an Auschwitz survivor and founder of Sloan Antiques, an East Buffalo landmark. He refused to sell the directory to a number of interested customers over the years, recognizing it as an historic artifact even before the church was listed on the state and federal registry of historic buildings.

The directory will reside in the Reverend J. Edward Nash Museum, 35 Nash St., one of the few remaining landmarks of Buffalo's 20th-century significance in local and national history across racial lines.

"We are deeply indebted to Max Sloan, a furniture and antique dealer with a longtime appreciation for African-American history," says Brooks-Bertram. "He donated this extraordinary historic relic in his father's name."

Adds Nevergold, "When it joins other historic artifacts of the Nash Museum, the directory again will be an integral part of the history of the Reverend J. Edward Nash House and the Michigan Avenue Preservation effort."

The Michigan Street Baptist Church was founded in 1843 and for the rest of the century was a center of abolitionist activism and served as a "station" of the Underground Railroad. Nash, the son of freed slaves, continued its tradition as its pastor for nearly 60 years (1892-1953). An imposing figure and exceptional leader, he helped orchestrate some of the foremost civil rights causes of Buffalo and the nation at the turn of the 20th century. Among them was the Niagara Movement (1905-09), which sought full civil liberties for persons of African descent. In 1909, its goals became the founding principles of the NAACP.

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