Brooklyn, IL Project

Brooklyn, IL Project

Brooklyn, IL school

Brooklyn, Illinois is a small, modest community near the banks of the Mississippi River that has the distinction of being America’s first Black town. According to oral tradition, in 1829 many freeborn and formerly enslaved African Americans settled there to form a refuge community. Over time, Brooklyn grew as a biracial town and, in 1873, it became the first majority African-American town to incorporate in the United States. By the late-nineteenth century Brooklyn rapidly transformed into an all-Black town.

Brooklyn, IL fire department

Since 2008, ISAS has partnered with Brooklyn’s citizens, leaders, and their historical society to form the Brooklyn Public Engagement Program. The program is an effort to revitalize the town using archaeology, history, and shared memories to create a sense of place and make its past relevant to current and future generations. The program’s goals include historic preservation, elevating awareness of Brooklyn’s significance, and heritage-based community development.



These videos highlight ongoing efforts by Brooklyn, Illinois community leaders and ISAS researchers to document and preserve important landmarks of this early African-American settlement.

Founded by Chance: Sustained by Courage


Radio Arts Foundation Interview


From the Radio Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Kathy Lawton Brown interviews Dr. Joseph Galloy, Miranda Yancey-Bailey, and Nathaniel O'Bannon III (former Mayor of Brooklyn) about Brooklyn, Illinois and the work that has been done in the community.