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About the Museum

Photo courtesy of the Waukegan Historical Society

The African American Museum at the England Manor is a historic home museum that focuses on the African American experience. Sylvia England, the founder of the museum, tells her and her ancestors’ story from their time in Africa through the present day. The museum features exhibits and artifacts that chronicle the various stages of the African American experience, emphasizing the experiences of Sylvia and her kin. There are rooms dedicated to Africa and the slave trade, the Underground Railroad, 40 acres and a mule, the Great Migration, and African American culture and experiences in the present day.

This museum aims to allow individuals who have been systematically stifled to have a voice and tell their stories. We encourage all who visit to sit down and reflect on their own experience and their family.

By prioritizing education, the museum hopes to allow young people to expand upon the limited black history they are typically told to understand better the depth of their roots that have embedded themselves into this country’s deepest recesses. 

Do you want to learn more about the house? Click Here

Founder of


Sylvia England

Sylvia England was born in Chicago and raised in the Quad Cities. In her youth, Sylvia became interested in sewing and set her intentions towards wanting a career in fashion. She went on to get formal training in Home Economics and Education. That training landed in Waukegan, IL, where she began her 36-year tenure as an Educator; an Administrator; and Dean of Students in the Waukegan area. Since her retirement, her passions for knowledge, children, and history have led her to civic leadership and extensive travel researching and teaching African American History, to her community and abroad.

In 2009, Sylvia found out a home she purchased in Waukegan was a safe station as part of the  Underground Railroad. Sylvia decided then that she wanted to open a museum to give students, parents, and travelers alike, an opportunity to gain the knowledge she has acquired, as she set out to continue to learn from others. So, she took the journey of the Underground Railroad to make sure that she fully understood the impact and the history of the story that she now can tell. In her travels and quests across the country, she has acquired a vast amount of knowledge and many historical artifacts that sit in the museum today.

Sylvia England has chosen to open the museum, a one-of-a-kind in the Lake County area, as a non for profit to enrich the lives of those in her community and the youth who will go on to tell the story. She is devoted to justice, the duty of citizenship, and the meaning of fellowship. She understands the value of community partnerships, and for that reason, it is her greatest hope that the museum becomes a prominent site in the years to come.

Come and meet our board members here!

Mission Statement

The African American Museum at the England Manor is committed to preserving and celebrating the rich history and cultural heritage of African Americans by engaging communities through education, meaningful conversations, and cultural experiences. We aim to build bridges of understanding and unity to help reduce conflict and foster a society that embraces diversity and harmony.


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