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Museum gets new director

Historian takes the lead at African/African American

– The African/African American Historical Society Museum has a new executive director.

John Aden, a professional historian, took the reins of the small non-profit on Jan. 28, according to a statement released Monday from the museum’s board of directors.

Aden attended Paul Harding High School, graduated with honors from Wabash College, earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University and is a former Committee On Institutional Cooperation Fellow, an Eli Lilly Teaching Fellow, a former J. William Fulbright Fellow, and has received numerous other awards. He is also the former , managing editor of the peer-reviewed scholarly quarterly journal Africa Today, published by the Indiana University African Studies Program.

Aden has worked in the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago – a world-renowned center for the study of Egyptology – as a Summer Research Opportunity Program Fellow, as well as at the National Museum of Mali, West Africa, during his Fulbright field research.

He has experience and contacts in the field of museum studies, particularly as it pertains to African art, history, colonialism and culture. The contacts, coupled with local partners, create opportunities for the museum to expand its programs and cultural offerings, officials said.

Aden is expected to focus on technology for the museum, 436 E. Douglas St., assessing the technology needs and creating an update plan.

“Programs that engage students and learners of all ages, both in-house (in-person visits to the museum) and on the Internet through our website and other social media platforms have a powerful impact in preserving community history,” Aden said.

Pompia Durril, president of the Board of Directors, said Aden’s southeast Fort Wayne roots, his educational background, knowledge of museum studies and scholarly interests in African and Chinese Histories uniquely positions him to elevate the museum’s program operations into the 21st century.

“We are committed to the museum serving as a community resource and research institution that has long term growth and stability,” Durril said in a prepared statement. “We believe that Dr. Aden will build upon the legacy of the museum’s seven founders and the work of recently retired Director/Curator, Hana Stith.”

According to the museum’s website, it was founded when Stith and Miles Edwards realized the Allen County Historical Museum in 1975 had not preserved African-American History and decided to do it themselves.

The African/African-American Historical Museum opened in February 2000.

“We are very appreciative for Mrs. Stith’s hard work over the past 10 years preserving and sharing the history of African American people in Northeast Indiana,” Durril said. “We are looking forward to a continued relationship with Mrs. Stith as she serves in the honorary role of Curator Emeritus.”

Attempts to reach Durril and Stith for comment Monday afternoon were unsuccessful.

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