Good News: Ralph Mark Gilbert Museum receives Dr. Gilbert’s papers

Good News: Ralph Mark Gilbert Museum receives Dr. Gilbert’s papers

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum has expanded physically and in scope.

Even as guests have still not returned, there has been a homecoming at Savannah's Civil Rights museum.

“They were delivered to us in the middle of a pandemic. That really is a miracle,” said Vaughnette Goode-Walker, Director at Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.

And one that has been anticipated since the opening of the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum - when the man whose name is on the building became as much a part of the museum’s future as its history with the delivery of Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert’s collected works.

“These papers include sermons, type-written sermons, almost 500 of them, complete with the envelopes typed by Dr, Gilbert. They also include his magnificent passion plays. Dr. Gilbert was a dramatist.”

They also included a surprise, scripts from a weekly recordings made at the First African Baptist Church.

“Dr. Gilbert had a radio show on WTOC radio in the 1940′s. It was called the Negro at Church broadcast and these are the scripts.”

Six boxes of Dr Gilbert’s writing arrived at the museum last month, a gift from his widow, Eulonia Sherman Gilbert, who had kept his work cataloged in her Harlem apartment since the Reverend’s passing in 1956.

“It was her life’s work to get these papers to the museum that has his name. I have a video of me talking to her on the phone and I say ‘they’re here,’ and all she can say is ‘hallelujah.’”

That only became possible after the museum expanded its capacity by building a climate-control archive space that was planned since its opening in 1996 specifically to receive Dr. Gilbert's papers.

“We have quite a bit of material that we are looking forward to having digitized so that we can share it with our online site as opposed to having people hands on because these are original papers. These are not copies of anything.”

Select artifacts eventually will be on display at the museum, which is finally home to the work it was built on.

“With his name on the building, this is where they belong. And that’s what I assured Mrs. Gilbert that they would be taken care of, they would be treasured and that Dr. Reverend Ralph Mark Gilbert, his name and his work need to live on for the next generation.”

Mark you calendar: The Ralph Mark Gilbert Museum has a year long celebration for its 25th anniversary. It begins on September 25.

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