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E. H. Butler Library, Buffalo State, The State University of New York

Archives & Special Collections: Uncrowned Queens Archive

The Monroe Fordham Regional History Center

Uncrowned Queens Archive: Intro

Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women

Founded in 1999 by Dr. Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram, the Institute aims to collect, disseminate, and archive the histories of previously unheralded African Americans, as well as vulnerable documentation of African American local communities. 

The Institute’s Mission Statement:

To conduct research on the issues affecting women of color, to use this research to develop educational programs that will enhance the quality of life for women and their communities, to promote the collection and dissemination of the individual histories of women, women’s organizations and women’s collective history, and to teach and educate women on the use of technology to preserve and disseminate their histories.   

Initially, the project was established prior to the 2001 centennial of the Pan American Exposition in order to commemorate the involvement of African American women and the local African American community in the 1901 international Exposition.  The magnitude of the project quickly grew to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of specific African American women during the turn of the century period and in the century since the fair.  The project transformed into a major documentation of regional African American history requiring a sustainable organizational framework.  

The Uncrowned Queens Institute was incorporated in 2002 and was designated a 501 (c) 3 organization in 2003.  It has an 11 member Board of Directors and receives funding through individual and corporate donations and grants.

Nevergold and Brooks-Bertram created their Uncrowned Queens model of historical documentation and preservation to focus on the incorporation of histories of lesser-known or unheralded individuals who proved to be “community builders.”  The stories of these women and, more recently, men are collected through the mediums of oral histories, biographical accounts, photos, and other supporting data.  Web and digital technologies, as well as print publications, are incorporated to archive, preserve, and present the collection of personal histories and supporting documentation.  

Personal memories are the principal source of this compelling historical record; thus the Institute serves a crucial role in the investigation, generation, and presentation of a community’s history through the voices of its formative “builders.”  

The Institute’s name, Uncrowned Queens, was derived from the 1917 poem, “America’s Uncrowned Queens,” by Oklahoma pioneer and poet, Drusilla Dunjee Houston.  The poem celebrates “a group of tireless, self-sacrificing black women who worked for the betterment of family and community.” 

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