About AARCH Society

Mission

The AARCH Society identifies, collects, preserves, and makes publicly accessible through our programs and services the objects, artifacts, and stories about the history, rich heritage and culture and the contributions of African Americans in Frederick County past and present and in doing so educates, enriches and enlightens this and future generations.

Values/Guiding Principles We believe that:

  • we offer a unique and authentic perspective and lens on the lived experience of African Americans in Frederick County as a “first voice” organization in which the people of a culture speak for themselves about their history, heritage, and culture.
  • we all benefit when we build a sense of community with our visitors, audiences, supporters, members, patrons, partners, and collaborators who are our essential stakeholders.
  • deepening the knowledge of visitors and audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds can also transform their thinking and understanding in ways that inspire tolerance and appreciation of different cultures, of each other, and of our shared humanity. African American Resources Cultural and Heritage (AARCH) Society Strategic Plan 2021 – 2026 15
  • being a primary resource for researchers and any lover of history, heritage, and culture who seek us out for information and knowledge is at the core of our mission.
  • providing the current generation of young people with access to information, knowledge, and to the history of Africa and Americans of African descent can fill a gap in their education and also transform their lives and the lives of future generations.
  • the perseverance and resiliency shown by the ancestors are core values carried forward in the Society’s mission. ▪ aiming for professionalism, excellence, and integrity in how we do business, relate to each other, to the community and our visitors and supporters is the strong foundation on which we operate and will operate into the future.

Vision Statement

As visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds from Frederick County, the region, and the nation walk into the AARCH Society’s new Heritage Center they enter into a dynamic hub of activity, learning, exchange, sharing, and education. In the Center and through the resources offered by the Society, they participate in programs and activities, undertake research, learn about and experience the cultural objects that tell the rich and compelling stories and history about African Americans in Frederick County through permanent and changing exhibitions, educational and multidisciplinary programs that provide enrichment and transformational experiences.

History 

The African American Resources – Cultural and Heritage Society, AARCH, was incorporated as a 501 c (3) in 2009 thanks to the vision of the late William O. Lee, Jr. (1928-2004), a lifelong Fredericktonian who worked in Frederick County public schools for 29 years, first as a teacher and later as a principal.   Mr. Lee also served as a Frederick City Alderman for eight years and was active in numerous civic organizations. 

In 2001, the Frederick Historic Sites Consortium of the Tourism Council of Frederick County announced an effort to preserve the local history and culture of African Americans. At that time, the Tourism Council received funding from Maryland’s Historical and Cultural Museum Assistance Program and from The Community Foundation of Frederick to produce a self-guided African American Heritage Walking Tour Guide of Frederick.  

Mr. Lee envisioned a permanent organization focused on local African American life and history.   His vision resulted in the establishment of the Society and will be brought to fruition with the opening in 2023 of the Heritage Center which is focused on the African American experience in Frederick County.

AARCH Society Logo

AARCH Society Logo
The arch embodies our connection to our past. It symbolizes the flow of moving forward while honoring our historical struggles and triumphs. The vibrant colors of the arch represent the resilience of African American people through enslavement and segregation to today and celebrate the many contributions African Americans have made in Frederick County and beyond. The deep purple represents the night sky, in honor of the many generations who have gone before, who looked to the stars and hoped for a better world for the generations to come.

The overlay of Sankofa symbols, drawn from our rich cultural heritage, carries the meaning of learning from the past to understand who we are today to build for the future. 

Programs, Services and Activities

  • Through its programs, services and activities, its research, archival and cultural materials, objects and collections and with the support of a dedicated and hard working corps of volunteers, AARCH shares the stories about the history, the contributions and extraordinary resiliency of African Americans in Frederick County despite the challenges they faced during slavery, the Jim Crow era and beyond. 

    The Society’s programs, services and activities include: 

    • Visiting Frederick County classrooms to speak with students of all ages.
    • Speaking on the African American experience at public forums.
    • Providing exhibits of photos and artifacts for libraries and community venues.
    • Rehabilitating and preserving local African American cemeteries.
    • Celebrating our “Living Treasures”—African Americans aged 90 years and older, on whose shoulders we stand—at an annual banquet.  
    • Hosting an annual African American Family History Fair for individuals, families, communities and organizations from throughout Frederick County to share their histories.
    • Planning for an African American Heritage Center, which we intend to serve as the base for our community involvement.

 VISION – The Heritage Center

With the City of Frederick’s generous lease to AARCH of a facility in Downtown Frederick, a dream and a goal will be realized when the Heritage Center opens in 2023 and the Society continues its two decades-long mission of collecting, preserving, presenting, celebrating and telling the stories – past and present – about the history, culture, heritage and contributions of African Americans in Frederick County.  

In our newly renovated and permanent home, residents of Frederick County and beyond as well as local, national and international visitors will be able to participate in programs and activities, view, research, learn about and experience the cultural objects that tell the rich and compelling, but often untold, stories and history about African Americans in Frederick County. 

The Heritage Center is envisioned as a space for community engagement, a destination and hub where permanent and changing exhibitions and displays and multidisciplinary programs provide educational enrichment and transformational experiences for visitors and audiences of all ages and backgrounds.  Located near other cultural and tourist destinations, the Delaplaine Arts Center, the Sky Stage and the Frederick Visitor Center, the Society’s Heritage Center adds to the vibrancy of Downtown Frederick’s historic district.  

SUPPORTING THE VISION

Your donation will ensure that AARCH has the funding to complete the renovation, design and install technologically cutting-edge exhibitions and displays, maintain and sustain the operation of the 3,200 square feet facility, fill essential staff positions and support our goals for generating earned and contributed income.   

When you donate you will be supporting the final Phase of realizing the dream: facility renovation, cataloging and processing of the cultural objects and artifacts, their preservation and interpretation, content development and exhibition planning, design, installation and maintenance, purchase of furnishings and equipment, and the Center’s general operation and long term sustainability.   And, you will be joining the AARCH Vision Forward campaign to bring Mr. William Lee’s vision to its fruition.  

To donate by check, please make the check out to:

AARCH Society PO Box 3903     
Frederick, MD 21705

To donate by credit card, please use our donation website page donation form.

Thank you to our members, volunteers, donors and funders who have committed time, talent and treasure to support the Society’s work over the past two decades.  We appreciate you and your ongoing contributions and support! 

AARCH Society     PO Box 3903     Frederick, MD 21705