Record Unit 9540, Pearis, Ella B. Howard. interviewee, Ella B. Howard Pearis Interview, 1986
Ella B. Howard Pearis is a fourth generation resident of Anacostia in Washington, D. C. She comes from a family of community activists, and, through her own involvement in organizations such as the Southeast Service Center of the American Red Cross, has carried on that tradition. Pearis is a founding member of the Anacostia Historical Society, a group which has worked closely with the Smithsonian's Neighborhood Museum.
Begun as the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in 1967, an experimental bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, ANM was the first community-based institution founded under the aegis of a major institution and became the prototype for other small neighborhood museums. It was developed as part of a broader plan to encourage museum access to a diverse cultural and socioeconomic group of museum goers. As a community-based museum, ANM sought to address issues of importance to its local constituency, as reflected in early exhibits. With the expansion of its mission, the museum's research and exhibits programs came to reflect its commitment to African American history and culture. In 2006, it was renamed the Anacostia Community Museum to reflect its role as a model community museum.
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