“Neighborhoods We Called Home” is a collaborative effort with the Dallas Jewish Historical Society, the Dallas Mexican American Historical League, and Remembering Black Dallas, Inc. The exhibit, which runs from September 1 through December 31, 2017, explores the historic neighborhoods of Dallas that served as strong, supportive communities for Jewish, Hispanic, and African-American Dallasites from the early 1900s and beyond.
Materials from the three co-sponsoring organizations will be installed in three corresponding structures at Dallas Heritage Village. The Jewish Historical Society will display materials in a Victorian house that the Village has dedicated to the presentation of Jewish history; the Dallas Mexican American Historical League’s materials will be featured in the railroad section house, as railroad work attracted many workers of Tejano or Mexican Heritage; and Remembering Black Dallas, Inc.’s materials will be exhibited in the Shotgun House, originally located in Dallas’ largest freedman’s town. All three organizations will also provide volunteers to staff their buildings during special events and field trip days.
In addition to the physical exhibits, which include stories and images of these historic Dallas neighborhoods, this project includes an interactive map of Dallas neighborhoods and their historic communities, created by Anita Palmer of GISetc: Educational Technology Consultants, as a donation to the project.
“This new exhibit will certainly be a highlight of the fall at Dallas Heritage Village and something the community will want to see,” added Evelyn Montgomery, curator, Dallas Heritage Village. “Our three collaborators have been hard at work on their respective exhibits, and it is very exciting to watch this come together. Additionally, the interactive map will link to all four organizations’ websites and provide a more comprehensive look at what life was like for these communities in the 1900s.”
Each collaborator has accumulated material by collecting oral histories and digitizing family memorabilia from Dallas citizens. Materials also include artistic renderings, images of costumed celebrations, fashions and artifacts. In each case they tell the stories of people who faced challenges regarding their places in Dallas society. They found strength through community, including institutions such as churches, stores and social organizations, and through community events and celebrations in neighborhood parks.
The three temporary installations will complement Dallas Heritage Village’s existing exhibit on the history of the Cedars Neighborhood, Dallas’ first residential enclave. In its long history, the Cedars has been home to Dallas’ elite as well as mills, warehouses and the homes of their employees. It housed Dallas’ first Jewish community, a thriving Hispanic barrio, and a community of African-American Dallasites. Throughout that history, the city park where Dallas Heritage Village now stands was the center of life in the Cedars.
This program was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.