About the Curator and Collection
James “Jack” Hadley, a native of Thomasville, was born out at Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomas County in 1936 to the late Dennis and Rosetta James Hadley, the parents of 15 children. He graduated from Douglass High School in June 1956 and enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served his country for twenty‑eight years and retired in 1984. Jack also was employed with the United States Postal Service as a City Letter Carrier for twelve years and retired on April 1, 1997. In his spare time, he is an avid collector and curator of Black History Memorabilia. His collection traces Black American’s history from preslavery to the present. This exhibit encompasses a broad spectrum of the Black struggle and existence in America, and Black contribution in helping to build and shape America.
It was during a tour of military duty in Spain in 1968 that Jack began his collection by saving newspaper articles from the European Stars and Stripes Newspaper on the assassination of DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
The collection grew in 1979 to include articles researched from old Ebony, Jet magazines and books on Black American Achievers. This research began as a result of little recognition or interest was being given to Black History Week at Wiesbaden Military Dependent High School in Germany, where Jack’s son, Jim Hadley attended. His son came home from school and questioned his father about the schools lack of interest in Black History Week. It was Jim’s idea that really started his father’s collections of Black Memorabilia. As a result of Jack and his son’s compilation of the memorabilia, and with the help of other military personnel, the first Black History Exhibit was held at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden , Germany and also at his son’s high school. Jack continued throughout his military career to establish Black History Exhibits at other military bases where he was stationed.
Today, he has obtained over 4669 pieces of artifacts; i.e. old news clippings, prints, pictures, paintings, posters, books and magazines of Black America Achiever’s historical accomplishments to include Thomasville/Thomas County’s Black Achievers. His most recent collectible artifact donated by a friend, Colonel Nathan Thomas, is a 14-inch bronze status of a Buffalo Soldier created by nationally acclaimed sculptor Eddie Dixon of Lubbock, Texas. It is a replica of the 14-foot statue, The National Buffalo Soldiers Monument that Dixon created to stand at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1992. In 1993, the organization was gifted with a set of SLAVE LEG IRONS SHACKLE, -1847. His material focuses in several areas: i.e. civil rights, politics, sports, poets/writers, military, slavery, Blacks living and working on Plantations, Black Women, and Black accomplishments. He is always looking for old pictures dated back to the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, to include photos on slavery and other pictures/posters on our First Black Achievers.
In 1995, Jack, his wife, Christine Jackson Hadley and their three children, Cathy, Jim, and Jackie made a decision to incorporate his collection as a non-profit organization. In doing this, it would enable the organization to receive public support for the continued growth of his collection. He organized the JACK HADLEY BLACK HISTORY MEMORABILIA, INC., set up a Board of Directors of which he serves as president. The Secretary of State chartered this corporation and the organization received the tax-exempt status 501 (c)-(3) IRS code, non-profit organization approved by the Internal Revenue Service. All financial contributions to this non-profit organization are 100% tax deductible.
This collection has been on exhibit at local schools, Thomas University, Southwestern State Hospital, Thomas County Public Library, churches, Douglass High School Alumni Association’s Headquarter and private organizations, the Thomasville Cultural Center, Boys and Girls Club, and Thomasville Community Resource Center. The organization loans sections of the exhibit to colleges, secondary schools, students, and teachers for class projects and exhibits, homework, and to do research for papers.
On Jan. 31, 1993, The Jack Hadley Black History Memorabilia Collection, in cooperation with the Thomas County Museum of History, completed a project of photo exhibits; bound transcriptions; recordings, both audio and video of extensive oral history accounts of black citizens who lived, worked or were raised on the southern hunting plantations, (1900‑1940) period. This manuscript is titled: AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIFE ON THE SOUTHERN HUNTING PLANTATION. This photo exhibit can be seen at the Jack Hadley Black History Museum and the Thomas County Museum of History. The bound transcription and video tapes can be checked out at the Jack Hadley Black History Museum and Thomas County Public Library System Headquarters. This manuscript has been published with co-authors James “Jack” Hadley and Dr. Titus Brown, Professor of African American History at Florida A & M. University. The released date for the: AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFE ON THE SOUTHERN HUNTING PLANTATION book, ISBN 0-7385-0555-2, from ARCADIA.
PUBLISHING was May 21, 2000. A second print was published in 2005. For ordering information, call 229-226-5029.
Jack has special exhibits on Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper and the Buffalo Soldiers. Lt. Flipper, a Buffalo Soldier, was the First Black American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877. Lt. Flipper was born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia in 1856. He was reburied in 1978 in the Old Magnolia Cemetery in Thomasville, Ga. The most recent honors for Lt. Flipper, a public law passed and signed by President Clinton, naming of the new post office in Thomasville, “The Lt. Henry O. Flipper Station on Dec. 9, 1998 and on Feb. 19, 1999, President Bill Clinton granted a posthumous pardon to Lt. Flipper, who was falsely convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer in 1881 and dishonorable discharged from the Army in 1882.
This organization has developed a Thomasville Black Heritage Trail Tour Guide on the 68 historical sites and places in Thomasville’s Black Community. This tour guide is the first Thomasville Black Heritage Tour Guide for Thomasville and is one of the few in Georgia. It was presented to the City of Thomasville’s Welcome Center in July 1996. On January 2000, this organization started the STEP ON – STEP OFF THOMASVILLE BLACK HERITAGE TRAIL TOUR. This is a 2 hours tour that cost $100. The tour guide step aboard your chartered bus, school bus, van or private vehicle and broaden your knowledge of the African American Historical Sites here in Thomasville, Georgia.
On June 8, 1997, this organization presented a PICTORIAL MASONIC WALL OF FAME EXHIBIT to the Thomasville Masonic Prince Hall Lodge. This permanent exhibit culminates the complete researching and locating of photographs of more than seventy (70) current and past Masonic heads of houses in our Thomasville Masonic Prince Hall Lodges, O.E.S. Chapters and other Masonic bodies from 1901 to present. It can be seen on the tour.
On October 2004, a dedication of the Bronze/Granite Monument, honoring Mr. Forrest Monroe, Sr., and renaming of a historical site, the Old Midway Country Grade School to Forrest Monroe, Sr., Heritage Education Site. This historical site can be visited on the tour.
This organization’s main objective is to get the message to our young people that Black Americans have done great things to help build and shape America‑‑ its goals and dreams. The organization feels that all children, regardless of race, need to know the accomplishments of Black men and women in American History.
The President and the organization started renovating on January 3, 2006 a brick facility of 5,617 square feet at the Frederick Douglass Complex, Thomasville, Georgia, to house the 2000 pieces of African-American artifacts in Thomasville First Black History Museum with the Grand Opening on Dec. 3, 2006. This Black History Memorabilia Collection will be for year-round viewing by the public and school students. This is a life-long “Dream” of Jack Hadley and his organization that have been fulfilled, a blessing from GOD. Visit our web sites to learn more about Thomasville rich Black Heritage: www.jackhadleyblackhistorymuseum.com.