The Icabod Flewellen Collection consists of research materials focused on African-American history.
Icabod Flewellen Finding Aid (view PDF)
About Icabod Flewellen
Icabod Flewellen was born July 6, 1916 in Williamson, West Virginia. Flewellen’s dream was to build an Afro-American museum in Cleveland, Ohio so that others could see the accomplishments of Africans and those of African descent.
To increase his knowledge of Negro history, Mr. Flewellen enrolled in West Virginia State College to obtain a degree in Negro Studies. When he found that the program did not meet his needs, he became a clerk while serving during WWII’s African and European campaigns.
Flewellen was honorably discharged from the Army in 1945 and he moved to Cleveland to build an Afro-American museum. He supported his dream while working at Cleveland’s Veterans Administration. Mr. Flewellen also worked in the maintenance department of Case Western Reserve University and sold real estate at the John Bland Realty Company while he researched and collected material for his Afro-American museum.
In 1953, Mr. Flewellen started the Afro-American Cultural and Historical Society in his home on Harkness Avenue and by 1964, he had amassed a sizable collection of items related the Negro experience. This broad collection of materials was presented at the Cleveland “Parade of Progress” Exhibition – one the largest exhibitions of Negro History in the country. Icabod Flewellen was a man who believed that education was something people needed and he strove to make it a part of his museum and his life. He attended Cleveland colleges and universities from 1953 until 1993 when he graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a history degree. Sometimes Mr. Flewellen would attend Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College and Case Western Reserve University simultaneously during a school year. He was always looking to improve his career status or find a lucrative business like real estate that would allow him the freedom to achieve his goal of establishing a museum. Even after Mr. Flewellen had accomplished his educational goals, he continued to attend classes, lectures, and gather research materials related to his collection.