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New Project Explores History Of Black Entrepreneurs In Wichita

Courtesy photo
Oil businessman and Wichita Black Business Hall of Fame inductee Henry L. Wofford.

Historical documents, audio interviews and artifacts will be on display at Wichita State University's Ablah Library on Sunday as part of the Wichita African American Business History Project.

Between 2011 and 2014, WSU professor Robert Weems recorded dozens of interviews and collected historical artifacts to tell the story of a cross-section of prominent black business owners in Wichita. Weems says black businesses were an integral part of the black community.

Dr. Robert Weems, Jr.

"I think by providing more illumination or spotlighting that aspect of Wichita’s black community will allow students and scholars to get a more complete assessment of black Wichita over time," he says.

Information on oil businessman Henry Wofford and entrepreneurs who owned a lighting company, a bus company and more are part of the collection, as well as details on a legacy architectural firm. The collection is considered the only project in the U.S. that documents the activities of African-American businesspeople in a particular location.

Wichita State University Libraries and Library Associates will host a reception celebrating the Wichita African American Business History Project. A reception will be held on Sunday, Nov. 5, from 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Ablah Library outside Special Collections. Remarks by Weems will begin at 3:00 p.m. 

Weems has donated the artifacts and interviews of his project to Special Collections and University Archives. The reception will be the first public viewing of this collection.

This event is free and open to the public.


Carla Eckels is interim news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

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