About Icabod Flewellen

Icabod Flewellen Finding Aid

The Icabod Flewellen Collection consists of research materials focused on Negro history.

About Icabod Flewellen (1916-2001)

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.

Honorably discharged from the Army in 1945, Flewellen moved to Cleveland to build his dream museum. He supported this dream by working at Cleveland's Veterans Administration, in the maintenance department at Case Western Reserve University, and selling real estate at the John Bland Realty Company while he researched and collected material.

In 1953, Mr. Flewellen started the Afro-American Cultural and Historical Society in his home on Harkness Avenue. 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 strived 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 for ways to improve his career status or to 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.