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African American History Research Center: HPL

Welcome to the African American History Research Center at Gregory School



Houston Public Library African American History Research Center at the Gregory School logo and entrance foyers
Unlock the Past

This History Research Center is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of African Americans in the Houston area and beyond.  Our goal is to link visitors from around the world to the storied history of this city.

The collections provide books, manuscripts, and photographs; the research center hosts events, exhibits, and programs that explore the lives and achievements of African Americans. Services and events are open to the public and are designed to educate and engage visitors of all ages.


Built in 1926, the two-story, former elementary school named after Edgar M. Gregory, a Union officer and Assistant Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau for the Texas area, is in historic Freedmen’s Town, in Houston’s Fourth Ward. This area is the city’s oldest established African American community. By 1876, the former Gregory Institute became a part of Houston’s public school system, and the Gregory School became the first public education institution for African American children.

The State Historical Commission designated the Gregory School building as a State Archaeological Landmark in 1995; the highest historical landmark classification that can be placed on a building. In 2008, ground-breaking work began to restore and transform the former school into The African American Library at the Gregory School. The renovated library opened on November 14, 2009. The library’s name was changed to the African American History Research Center in 2022.
For Researchers

Gregory school inside photo
From the Collection

Research Guide
Find available online items faster using this guide to access finding aids, print collections, databases, and recommended resources on African American history!

Get Started   

Digital Archives
Find select digital holdings of highly requested photographs, papers, and oral histories representing the Black experience in Houston and Texas. Download collections and save image files for your personal or research use.

Explore Now   
Have a question, want to donate materials?
Submit your research question or donate items to the archives. We gladly accept items such as:


   Letters, postcards, wills and deeds
   Photos (families, events, architecture and neighborhoods)
   Family histories (family trees, personal documents)
   Audiovisual (VHS, cassette tapes, reels)
   Funeral programs and obituaries
   Research notes and memoirs
   Business and organization records
   Yearbooks and scrapbooks
The African American Library Gregory Friends
We welcome donations from your family items and personal collection. Our services provide the opportunities to preserve, reflect, and grow the experiences of African Americans in the Greater Houston area. Your personal materials are essential in capturing oral history and the public sharing of information as historical records in the Houston Public Library’s Digital Archive.
Movements in Houston
A collection of stories and responses to race and social justice topics on inequity, police violence, and racial discrimination and activist movements in Houston and the United States.

Events at History Research Centers

Interviewing the Living for Leads to the Past


Tour the Galleries

Restored Classroom
A classroom has been restored to its original 1926 appearance so that visitors can experience what the Gregory School was like at its inception.
Freedmen's Town Gallery exhibit
This exhibit chronicles a crucial period in Houston’s history when an African American community, later known as Freedmen’s Town, Fourth Ward, was established following emancipation.
African Americans in Houston Gallery 1
This exhibit centers on the themes of Faith, Cooperative Economics, Collective Work and Responsibility, and Unity accenting how each played a significant role in the development of the city.
African Americans in Houston Gallery 2
This exhibit highlights how Black Houstonians used Purpose, Self-Determination, and Creativity asserted themselves through artistic and social outlets.




Location Details


Contact Us
1300 Victor St. Houston, TX 77019 | 832-393-1440 | Submit Research Question