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Office Hours
Monday, Wednesday,
Thursday  9am-noon

Offices are located in the upper level of the Dale Shaffer Research Library

Mailing Address:
208 South Broadway Ave
Salem, OH 44460


Weekly Sunday 1-4pm

Monthly 3rd Tuesday 6-9pm
(May through October)

Tours are also available by appointment, call 330-337-8514

Tours begin at the front door of the Pearce House at 208 South Broadway.

Trolley Tours begin at the lower level of Dale Shaffer Library on South Lundy Ave.

The Salem Historical Society

Booker T. Washington (center of picture with top hat) arriving at the home of Louis N. Brush for a Salem News Luncheon June 22, 1906, before he spoke  under a large tent on the front lawn of the Columbia Street School.

Article 7.   Booker T. Washington Thanks Salem

Reprinted from Dale E. Shaffer's book, "More of the Salem Story...", publ 1992, pages 19-20

Local history buffs know that Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute, was in Salem for the 1906 centennial celebration, and spoke on the afternoon of June 22 under a large tent on the Columbia Street School lawn.  The audience was one of the largest ever assembled here.  His speech was the climax of a program arranged for Anti-Slavery Day, the third day of Salem's centennial.

Scarcely an inch was available beneath the wide-spreading canvas tent.  Hundreds gathered outside, unable to even get within reach of the speaker's voice.  Some 3,500 were seated, with many more forced to stand or sit upon the steps, platform or other improvised resting places.

Dr. Washington's address, titled "The Regeneration of a Race," was by far the most important address given during the big celebration.  He made a profound impression, with his comments frequently being cheered by the crowd.  Showers on and off during the afternoon were not allowed to spoil this special occasion.

About two weeks after the celebration, the chairman and members of the centennial program committee received a letter from Booker T. Washington.  It was dated July 6, 1906 and read as follows:

"My Dear Sirs -- I cannot express to you in words how deeply grateful I am to the people of Salem for devoting a day to the celebration of the Abolition movement.  So far as I know, Salem is the only city in the country which has ever had such a celebration.  The event is not only unique, but will prove helpful in many directions.

There are far too few who are acquainted with the history and achievements of those who took part in the Anti-Slavery struggle.  It was not only a struggle to free the black man, but it was a struggle to free the white race as well, and since this is recognized more and more to be true, such a celebration as you had a few days ago will become increasingly important to the nation.  Such celebrations not only serve to perpetuate the memories of the men who earnestly and faithfully fought for a great cause, but will also prove educational in a broad sense.

I sincerely trust that there, in the midst of such historic surroundings, and upon the soil where slaves first breathed freedom, that such celebrations will occur annually to  honor those faithful, loyal men and women whose valiant courage we should ever keep before us.

Permit me to again thank you for the privilege of taking part in your celebration.  Very truly yours, Booker T. Washington."

It would be great to have the original copy of this historic letter for display at the Salem Historical Museum.  Most significant for historians is Dr. Washington's remark that, so far as he knew, Salem was the only city in the country (in 1906) to celebrate the abolitionist movement.  He would be please to know that, 86 years later, we are still celebrating it - through a building called Freedom Hall.

The Salem Historical Society
Main Entry for Meeting Room and Gift Shop in the lower level of
Dale Shaffer Research Library

239 South Lundy
Salem, OH
(330) 337 - 8514

....researching, preserving, showcasing