AARCH is devoted to preserving and disseminating the history and culture of African Americans living in Frederick County, Maryland. Our members work to identify, collect, and exhibit artifacts that tell the unique story of African Americans from our area, and travel throughout the region to share first-person and historical accounts. Our work facilitates an understanding of how the past shapes and enriches the present and the future of all citizens.

History and Vision

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.

The AARCH Society formed, thanks to the vision of the late William O. Lee, Jr. (1928-2004). Mr. Lee was a lifelong Fredericktonian who worked in Frederick County public schools for 29 years, first as a teacher and later as a principal; he also served as a Frederick City Alderman for 8 years and was active in numerous civic organizations. He envisioned a permanent organization focused on local African American life and history, and he sought to create and build a Heritage Center focused on the African American experience in Frederick County. AARCH grew from his aspirations.


aarch 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. 

Activities and Programs

AARCH seeks to engage with the wider community to share the richness of many contributions African Americans have made to Frederick County despite the challenges faced during slavery, the Jim Crow era, and beyond. AARCH activities and programs 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.

AARCH Society     PO Box 3903     Frederick, MD 21705