Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Information Science

First Advisor

Karen W. Gavigan


This study aims to examine Black educators’ experiences within cultural heritage institutions that are documenting topics that include the long arc of the American Civil Rights Movement. Black educators are powerful conduits of the African American story because they align with African American cultural heritage institution’s goals to foster equality, identity, pride, and honor in the community. These shared goals lead to Black educators using teaching methods that liberate, advocate, and empower students. This allows them to share new knowledge, strategies, techniques, and concepts on diverse topics. Considering their fundamental mission, it is essential to gain an awareness of the educators’ lived experiences, as these experiences will influence their teaching promulgation. Specifically, this research seeks to discover how the lived experiences of Black educators inform their previous, initial, and post reactions to these cultural heritage sites.

The theoretical frameworks used were Reader Response and Experiential Learning. This narrative inquiry used observations and interviews to understand the lived experiences of the participants of this study. Following the data collection, the researcher analyzed the data using values coding to glean themes of family, community, and rejection of the dominant narrative in the participants' values, attitudes, and beliefs.

Findings from this study reveal that the influence of the exhibits spanned beyond the walls of the site. There was a transformative effect on the participants’ personal and professional understandings of racial issues, the value of community, and their perceived obligations to educate society. The findings from this study could inform professionals in the fields of education, library and information science, and museum studies on the effectiveness or limitations of museum exhibitions towards the education of students and teachers. It could also influence future policies. Therefore, leaders of these fields can use this newfound knowledge to modify exhibitions to promote a more authentic design that informs the diverse visitor experience.


© 2023, Constance Marie Caddell