Twentieth Century African American Tourism in New England
New England has long been a popular vacation destination for Americans, and many middle and upper class African Americans have enjoyed the region’s beaches, forests, and towns. Barred from most hotels and restaurants, and unwelcome in many communities, African Americans patronized their own system of guesthouses and resorts. The online exhibit Claiming a Piece of the American Dream: African American Vacationers in New England, 1930-1964 uses text, photographs, primary documents, and oral history interviews to illuminate the diverse experiences of African American vacationers in New England from the turn of the century through the 1960s. Focusing on the middle class guesthouses Rock Rest (Kittery, Maine) and Cummings’ Guest House (Old Orchard, Maine), as well as Oak Bluffs, America’s oldest and most famous African American resort community, the exhibit discusses the accommodations, travel arrangements, social lives, recreational activities, and challenges faced by African American vacationers in a segregated society.