5th of July Resource Center for Self-Determination & Freedom

The 5th of July Resource Center for Self-Determination & Freedom is dedicated to the production & dissemination of knowledge concerning histories of post-emancipation, freedom, and its promise. In addition to serving as a repository of information, the Resource Center generates knowledge and expertise on historic understandings of 19th century and 20th century African American, Caribbean, and African history, and sponsors intellectual activities to further these understandings. Inspired by the self-determination of Weeksville’s historic free black community, the Center’s expansion of knowledge is grounded on existing intellectual and material resources of Weeksville’s history—research, documentation, and the archival, and object collection, including Weeksville’s invaluable architectural resources, the Hunterfly Road Houses.

With the opening of the 5th of July Resource Center, Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC) will for the first-time in its history be able to make its collections, archives, and oral histories available to the community at large including the scholarly community, teachers, students, and the general public.  

Weeksville Heritage Center is a significant historic American site, with a well-documented, rare extant example of an independent African American community organized by African American entrepreneurs and land investors. Weeksville became the second largest known independent African American community in pre-Civil War America.  A deeply engaged community, Weeksville residents sustained one of the first African American newspapers, advocated for abolition, and provided safe haven during the violent draft riots of the Civil War era.

In the late 1960s, Weeksville was all but forgotten until a small group of community activists rediscovered four dilapidated houses that were rare residential remnants of historic Weeksville. The Historic Hunterfly Road Houses, as they are known today, are New York City landmarks, and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The new Resource Center will include a scholar residency, oral history and genealogical courses, visual storage, an oral history recording studio, and digitized research collection.

Weeksville Genealogy Workshop, 1980. 

Weeksville Genealogy Workshop, 1980. 

Scott, J. (2013).  5th of July Resource Center Plan. Unpublished draft proposal. Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn NY.