Margaret Burroughs

The Home of Black History

In a time when white supremacy renders other histories invisible, they need to find unconventional homes. In 1961, Margaret Burroughs and her husband Charles transformed their Chicago home into such a place—the first iteration of the DuSable Museum. At that time, there were few outlets for Black Americans to explore art and history from their perspective, and Burroughs paved the way by carving her own path.

Born in Louisiana, Burroughs moved to Chicago as a child, eventually earning degrees at Chicago Normal College (now Chicago State University) and the Art Institute. Making her career as an artist and educator, Burroughs immersed herself in the broader Black intellectual activist community. Grounded in her activism to help form the South Side Community Art Center and her insistence on the teaching of Black History, Burroughs established the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art (now DuSable Museum) in her home, which had once been a boardinghouse for African American rail workers. From the museum’s beginning, Burroughs’s focused on collecting the material culture of Black History and would often place ads in The Chicago Defender soliciting artifacts. Burroughs’s pioneering work establishing the DuSable Museum became a roadmap for other Black History museums to follow, eventually leading her to co-found the Association of African American Museums.


Object label:

Margaret Burroughs Art

A linoleum-scratched print portrait of Harriet Tubman by Margaret Burroughs.

Courtesy of The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center

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