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  Name:   Spencer R. Crew
Month: February 2004
Schools: Brown, B.A., 1971
Rutgers M.A. 1973, Ph.D. 1979
Organization: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Title: Executive Director and CEO

Spencer R. Crew spends his life making history accessible. Currently serving as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, he is building a museum from the ground up. The center, scheduled to open later this year, "will show the pro-active way African-Americans sought freedom and the way people united in support of the belief that freedom was important to preserve for everyone." Dr. Crew made a name for himself as a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. His 1987 exhibition Field to Factory documented the migration of southern blacks to northern cities in the years during and after World War I and sparked a national discussion on the impact of migration and race. In 1994, he was named director of the museum, becoming the youngest and the first African-American director of a major Smithsonian museum. Dr. Crew also developed the Smithsonian's popular permanent exhibition on American presidents and oversaw the preservation of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner. Among his publications are, Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration 1915 - 1940 (1987), Black Life in Secondary Cities: A Comparative Analysis of the Black Communities of Camden and Elizabeth, N.J. 1860 - 1920 (1993), and the co-authoring of, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden (2002).

Dr. Crew is an active member of the academic and cultural communities, serving on many boards that work to generate enthusiasm for history among the general public. He is the Chair of the National Council for History Education and on the Board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He has published extensively in the areas of African American History and Public History.

He joined the staff of NMAH in 1981, as a historian. Dr. Crew became a curator in the museum's Division of Community Life in 1987, and was named chair of the Department of Social and Cultural History in 1991. He served as the museum's acting deputy director from 1991 to 1992.

Before his tenure at the Smithsonian, Dr. Crew was assistant professor of African American History and American History at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Crew graduated from Brown University in 1971, and holds a master's degree (1973) and a doctorate (1979) from Rutgers University. In 2003 he was inducted to the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Spencer Crew is married to Sandra Prioleau Crew, and is the parent of Alika Crew, a Brown University graduate who is in Dental School at the University of Pennsylvania and Adom Crew, a student at Brown University.

 

 

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