The Black Archives Research Center and Museum is located in Carnegie Library, the oldest brick building on the campus of Florida A&M University. A fire in 1905 destroyed Duval Hall, which housed the school’s first library. The school, under the leadership of its second President, Nathan B. Young, solicited help from the famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who donated $10,000 to rebuild the library. Completed in 1907, the two-story building was the first Carnegie Library built on a Black land-grant college campus. It served as FAMU’s second library until 1947, when a larger resource center, Coleman Library, was constructed. In the 1950s and 1960s, Carnegie Library was used as an art gallery and for art classes. In the early 1970s, it was utilized as a religious center, and in 1976, FAMU President Benjamin L. Perry, Jr., designated Carnegie Library as the founding home of the Black Archives Research Center and Museum. In 1978, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1991, the structure underwent exterior renovations.
Union Bank Facility
The Union Bank was built in 1841 and served as a planter's bank during Florida's territorial period. From 1869-1874, it housed the National Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company. The facility is Florida's oldest surviving bank, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Interior renovations at Carnegie Library in 1996, led to a cooperative venture with the State of Florida. During this time, the Black Archives opened a satellite facility in the historic Union Bank building (a former Freedman’s Bureau Bank) in downtown Tallahassee. It presently serves as the home of the Black Archives' Capitol Complex satellite facility. The exhibits at the Union Bank focus on the African-American experience in Florida.
For nearly 30 years, public demands for the center’s numerous services constantly grew. Equally impressive is the fact that members of the general public continue to donate all kinds of historical material. As a result, the Black Archives’ Carnegie Library facility became overcrowded.
In 1998, U.S. Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack, Congresswoman Carrie Meek and Congressman Allen Boyd sponsored a bill that resulted in the center receiving federal funds to help physically expand the Black Archives into a regional research facility. Construction of a $7 million, state-of-the-art was completed in 2005 and officially opened to the public in 2006. Upon accepting these federal appropriations and matching funds from the State of Florida, the center's focus was broadened to encompass the southeastern region. In June 2006, the Florida Legislature officially named the new expansion facility the Carrie Meek - James N. Eaton, Sr. Building.
Currently the two facilities, Carnegie Library and the Expansion Facility form the Carrie Meek - James N. Eaton, Sr. Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum at Florida A&M University. The center is commonly referred to as the Meek-Eaton Black Archives.
Dr. James N. Eaton and architect Karl Thorne, President of Karl Thorne Associates, Inc., with rendition of historic Carnegie Library and the New Expansion Facility in 2003.