- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2008

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A Hagerstown family working to establish a black-heritage museum has received $30,000 in state and city funds to obtain a scholarly assessment of their vast collection of artifacts and memorabilia.

Marguerite Doleman, who died in 2000 at 79, collected thousands of items, including slave bills of sale, quilts made by former slaves, obituaries of local black residents and material documenting the Civil Rights movement, said her son Charles “Sonny” Doleman.

“Once she started collecting, it just kind of snowballed,” Mr. Doleman told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. “She held on to pretty much a little bit of everything.”

Mrs. Doleman operated a black-heritage museum in her home on North Locust Street. After she died, family members and friends established the Doleman Black Heritage Museum in hopes of moving the collection from the crammed house into a building with more exhibit space.

“This needs a little more care than just sitting in the basement,” Mr. Doleman said.

The city of Hagerstown recently matched a $15,000 grant the group received from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority to hire a specialist to assess the collection. Mr. Doleman said expertise is needed to prevent some of the older items, such as clothing, documents and quilts, from deteriorating.

The collection includes a “Jocko” statue, or black lawn jockey. Although some consider such statues racist because they portray servants with sometimes exaggerated facial features, Mr. Doleman said his mother favored a story that the figures honor a black child who held a lantern on the bank of the Delaware River so Gen. George Washington’s troops could find their way back after attacking a Hessian force in New Jersey.

“People said they didn’t like it, but my mother always said, ‘You have to deal with the good and the bad,’ ” Mr. Doleman said. “It was all a part of history.”

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