About Shorefront

Collect - Preserve - Educate

Shorefront is an archival institution dedicated to illuminating the rich tapestry of Black history on Chicago’s suburban North Shore. Founded on the three core principles — Collect, Preserve, and Educate — we aim to create a dynamic space for reflection and growth.

An archive for the people, by the people; we safeguard narratives that have too frequently been consigned to obscurity. Through our efforts to unearth the stories of previously unrecognized community members, we breathe life into their legacies, ensuring they endure for generations yet to come.

Keep scrolling to learn more about our organization and its history, or visit our Journals page for more on our ongoing initiatives. We appreciate you joining us in celebrating the past, present, and future of our remarkable community.



We actively seek out a diverse range of personal stories, artifacts, documents, and cultural expressions that reflect the richness of Black histories. Through comprehensive research, collaboration, and engagement with communities, we ensure that every piece collected is a testament to the resilience, achievements, and complexities of Black lives across the North Shore.


Utilizing cutting-edge conservation techniques, digitization technologies, and archival best practices, we are committed to preserving every piece of history stored within our collection. By maintaining the physical integrity and digital accessibility of our holdings, we honor the past, illuminate the present, and provide an enduring legacy for the future.


Through exhibitions, public programs, partnerships, and accessible online platforms, we actively engage with individuals of all backgrounds. By sharing the stories of Black history, we challenge biases and inspire critical thinking. Our commitment to education extends beyond boundaries, empowering individuals to advocate for social justice, equality, and inclusivity.

The History of Shorefront

Our History - Our Future
In 1995, Shorefront started as an interest group called “Through The Eyes of Us” with the aim of documenting early Black communities on Chicago’s suburban North Shore. Our initial efforts focused on collecting oral histories, researching historic names, businesses, organizations, and migration patterns, and publishing records on the local Black community.

In 1999, the group introduced the quarterly Shorefront Journal, a community-contributed collection of historical information, with a circulation of just 300 per issue. In 2002, the journal transitioned to an online blog for greater discoverability. That year, we consolidated our organizational efforts and officially became known as Shorefront Legacy Center in June 2002.

Shorefront has since expanded to include youth programming, exhibits, public presentations and an archive representing the historic Black communities north of Chicago. Currently, our collection consists of over 500 linear feet of documents, photographs, moving images and ephemera. We continue to grow and accept donations on a daily basis, with increased efforts focused on digitization of our archival materials.

The Shorefront Legacy Center has been widely used as a resource to the benefit of historical and educational institutions, students, historians, and our community at large. We’ve partnered with the National Museum of African American History and Culture at The Smithsonian, contributed to the successful passage of funded reparation in Evanston, and worked closely with the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) to shift our organization to a community based archive model.

Through this all, the work of Shorefront remains true to our core mission values: Collect, Preserve, Educate. We seek to close the knowledge gap on Black history in the North Shore for all of our visitors, educators and community, and ensure that future generations will need not repeat the far too frequent refrain of: “I did not know…”.

Visit the collection


Legacy Center Address
2214 Ridge Avenue
Evanston, Illinois 60201


Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: Open by Appointment
Saturday: 10 am – 1 pm
Sunday: Closed