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Interactive website commemorates Cincinnati's historical Black figures, sites

Cincinnati Preservation launches online portal
Cincinnati Preservation Association_Union Baptist Cemetery.jpg
Posted at 7:58 PM, Feb 21, 2022

CINCINNATI — A wealth of information about Cincinnati’s Black history has just been put on display through a new interactive website and app launched by the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

Cincinnati Sites and Stories is meant to serve as a digital destination through which visitors can discover the people, places and events that have molded the history of the greater Cincinnati area.

The project is a year in the making; Cincinnati Preservation launched the online portal with a collection of African American historical sites in time for Black History Month.

“History is really important to a community," said Paul Muller, executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association. "It’s part of our collective memory and the preservation movement and history, in general, has missed a really important part of that: the history of the African American experience in Cincinnati."

Visitors can expect to find articles and multimedia commemorating noteworthy people and events. There are also virtual tours and mapping tools identifying dozens of sites like Union Baptist Cemetery in West Price Hill. Louise Stevenson, a trustee with Union Baptist Church, said it's important to remember some of the great individuals buried at the cemetery.

Examples of people and stories highlighted on the website include Sarah Fossett, the prominent hairstylist who helped desegregate Cincinnati’s public transit in the 1800s. There are also articles on subjects like the history of Avondale, as well as Thomas Jefferson’s former slaves who moved to Cincinnati.

“Finally, with the work of the Preservation Association, everyone is excited about what we’re doing," Stevenson said. "They want to know about their personal history, about our city’s history, and know more about the great things that we don’t even know that some of our heroes here have done."

Cincinnati Preservation is working with scholars and other organizations in the area to curate the website’s content. The Haile Foundation and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation have contributed a total of about $70,000 towards the project.

“In my career of working with the built environment and history, this has been the single most important thing that I think I’ve been able to deal with,” Muller said. “A community is richer when it acknowledges its entire history.”

Cincinnati Preservation encourages locals to contact the organization about sites it has missed that should be added to the website. The organization can be contacted at info@cincinnatipreservation.org.

Monique John covers gentrification for WCPO 9. She is part of our Report For America donor-supported journalism program. Read more about RFA here.

If there are stories about gentrification in the Greater Cincinnati area that you think we should cover, let us know. Send us your tips at moveupcincinnati@wcpo.com.