Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Freedmen's Town Association Collection RG.F.0023

Descriptive Summary

Creator Freedmen's Town Association, Inc.
Title: Freedmen's Town Association Collection
Dates: Bulk, 1984
Dates: 1983 to 1986 1984
Identification: RG.F.0023
Quantity: 3.0 Linear feet, 1 flat box
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Historical Note

Houston’s Fourth Ward has been known as Freedmen’s Town, because it was the first Black settlement in Houston following the Civil War. Its origin began when emancipated slaves began to buy land along the Buffalo Bayou to build their homes. Their resourcefulness lead to a thriving community by 1870, beginning with Houston’s first African-American churches and schools. Freedmen’s Town in the early half of the 20th century is recognized as being a cultural center of creativity and talent.

The Freedmen's Town Association is a community-based non-profit corporation. The Association was formed in 1981 to design, implement, coordinate, and direct programs intended to ensure the effective participation of Fourth Ward residents in the redevelopment and revitalization of their community.

In January 1984, the members of the Freedean’s Town Association assembled to discuss the irresponsible gentrification of the area that was destroying its cultural and historical ties. The Freedmen's Town Association applied for and received a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to conduct a historic site survey of the community. The Association also submitted a nomination for designation of the area as a National Historic Site which was granted; however, only 40 of the original 80 blocks of Freedmen’s Town are protected.

Scope and Contents

The Freedmen’s Town Association Collection contains documents and published materials pertaining to the efforts of the Freedmen’s Town Association in preserving the Fourth Ward from 1983 to 1986.



The Freedmen’s Town Association Collection is arranged in two series by format and then chronologically.
Series 1: Documentation Regarding the Historic Preservation of Houston’s Fourth Ward
Series 2: Published Materials


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Freedmen's Town Association Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Freedmen’s Town Association, Inc.
African Americans—Texas—Houston
Fourth Ward (Houston, Tex.)
Freedmen’s Town (Houston, Tex.)
Historic preservation—Texas—Houston
Historic sites—Texas

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Freedmen's Town Association Collection. RG F 023. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Gladys House representing the Freedmen's Town Associaton, Inc., June 21, 1985.

Processing Information

Processed by Tamara Jordan, July 11, 2007.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Series 1: Documentation Regarding the Historic Preservation of Houston’s Fourth Ward

Report: Freedmen’s Town Historic District. Houston, Texas National Register Department. Texas Historical Commission, Austin, Texas
Nomination Form, National Register Department
Physical Development, 1865 to 1900
Physical Development in the Early Twentieth Century
Erosion of the Community 1940 to present [1984]
Properties in the District
Inventory by address (25 pages)
Significance of the Area, (11 pages)
Inventory of printed material related to Houston, 1880 to 1976
Geographical Data
Photographs (copies) of Freedmen’s Town Historic District
Correspondence: from Gladys House and Lenwood Johnson. March, 1985


Series 2: Published Materials

Periodical: Freedmen’s Journal
1983 January to November
1984 April to December
1985 January to March and May to June
1986 December to February
Article: Keltner, Carmen. (November 5, 1984). Fourth Ward Story, Downtown. November 5, 1984
Article: Keltner, Carmen. (November 5, 1984). Economic and historic roots on collision course in Fourth Ward, Downtown. November 5, 1984
Article: Berke, Arnold. (March 1985). Critical Ward, Houston black fight removal of ‘Freedmen’s Town,’ their cultural cradle, Preservation News. March 1985
Periodical: Bulletin. Freedmen’s Town Association, Inc.