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Thomas Wants Civil War Memorial, Library Linked

A group places a wreath at the African American Civil War Memorial. (Frank Johnston)

The Civil War Memorial Museum, dedicated to displaying and documenting the contributions of blacks in the Civil War, could get a big boost under a partnership with the D.C. Public Library, and idea proposed today by Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5).

Council members signed on with enthusiasm during today's introduction.

Former Council member Frank Smith, founding director of the foundation that runs the museum, said the joint venture would allow the library to promote the museum and the museum to provide the library's users to access the museum collection.

The proposed partnership comes about 10 years after the African American Civil War Memorial was unveiled on U Street in July 1998.

Smith said the memorial and the museum, which opened to the public months later and is two blocks away, helped revitalize U Street. But the museum is now looking to expand its profile and reach.

"As a museum, we will never be a place where people can research for hours," he said. "We don't have the staff for that."

The partnership would be modeled after the famed Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a Harlem landmark well known for its collections, programs and exhibits.

"A lot of people don't know that it's part of the New York Public Library system," Smith said.

Nikita Stewart

By Marcia Davis  |  April 1, 2008; 1:09 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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