Step back in time with the Black Business Ventures collection and learn about Sadie Arnold’s frozen pie crusts in 1955, the Morrison and Reeves brothers’ orchestras, or the struggles and successes of other Boulder’s black entrepreneurs during the 1900s.

On a warm spring afternoon, the 116-year-old rooms of the Carnegie Library for Local History were brought to life.

Surrounded by century-old books, yellowed newspaper clippings and faded photographs, a group of middle schoolers chatted and jotted notes onto worksheets.

Their goal? To uncover the history of Black businesses in 20th century Boulder for the new Black Business Ventures collection.

A middle schooler looks at an old newspaper clipping and writes notes into a worksheet. He is wearing a white shirt and a white latex glove while he writes.

As part of a larger project led by the Museum of Boulder called Proclaiming Colorado’s Black History, eleven middle schoolers and their chaperones learned about Carnegie Library’s archive and scoured newspaper clippings, city directories, real estate appraisal cards and other materials to find stories and facts about Boulder’s history of Black entrepreneurship.

They visited the library not just as students, but as researchers.

“It was a great opportunity to teach middle schoolers not only about local Black history, but also about the work needed to fix the reality that traditional archives have large gaps when it comes to representing marginalized groups.” Shared Nicole Docimo, an archivist at Carnegie Library.

"If archives can do a better job of documenting all of our history in an accessible way, those stories can trickle down into classrooms and change how future generations tell the stories of history."

The community research event is part of a collage of efforts in the city to strengthen community partnerships toward collaborating to achieve racial equity goals.

“This entire project is one very small example of the continued work that we need to do.” Nicole added. “If archives can do a better job of documenting all of our history in an accessible way, those stories can trickle down into classrooms and change how future generations tell the stories of history.”

Middle schoolers and an adult look at old newspaper clippings and worksheet papers.

The students’ work has been added to the library’s new Black Business Ventures collection. There are plans to include uncovered materials in a 2023 exhibit at the Museum of Boulder.

While many of the stories are a reminder of the tenacity of Black entrepreneurs against institutional racism in the 20th century, the collection is also filled with celebrations of familiar everyday life: a beautiful plant in a business owner’s Pearl Street store, siblings smiling in front of birthday cake, and a musician rocking to a melody on stage.

Step back in time with the Black Business Ventures collection and learn about Sadie Arnold’s frozen pie crusts in 1955, the Morrison and Reeves brothers’ orchestras, and the struggles and successes of Boulder’s black entrepreneurs during the 1900s.

Sadie’s Pies

Sadie Arnold, a woman with short black hair and white-rimmed glasses, rolling out dough besides a stack of flat pie crusts.

Find out how Sadie Arnold started a pastry business, with desserts including these frozen pie crusts for easy baking. She ran a restaurant together with her husband at the time, Roger Arnold, and her handmade pie crusts stocked the shelves of grocery stores across town.

Feaster’s Beauty Shop

A woman fixes her sister's hair at her beauty shop.

Read about Lelia Feaster’s Beauty Shop and how she got her start in Boulder. Her husband Allan Feaster also ran a business at home for machine repair and invented a new type of lathe.


George Morrison

Jazz musician George Morrison, seen here wearing  black glasses and a suit, plays a guitar while he sings into a microphone on stage.

Learn about the "Master of Melodies," George Morrison. While institutional racism prevented him from pursuing his dreams of being a concert violinist, Morrison's passion for music led him to an international career as a jazz musician, performing across borders as the band's leader, violinist and composer.

View the full Black Business Ventures collection and find current Black-owned or managed businesses in Boulder on the Boulder County Black-Owned Business List.