James Alvin Tolbert
(1932 – 2017)

Founder Father & Secretary of the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society

During his 85 years, Mr. Tolbert worked tirelessly for civil rights and equality for all. He believed “the job of every generation is to make life better for the next generation”. He was committed to numerous community activities and was honored with various awards and recognition including the 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award from the West Virginia University Center for Black Culture and Research and the 1976 T.G. Nutter Award from the West Virginia NAACP.

Welcome to the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society


Major Martin R. Delany

African American history in Jefferson County cannot be separated from American history. From slavery on the massive farms throughout the county, to the blow against slavery in Harpers Ferry, to the Niagara Movement against economic discrimination to end Jim Crow – it all took place in Jefferson County, and it all greatly influenced change in the social structure in America.

In September 2000, James L. Taylor, Nathaniel Downing (deceased), George C. Rutherford and James A. Tolbert, long sensing an exclusion of Jefferson County Blacks in historical writing, met to begin what has been the largest compilation  of Black history ever undertaken in Jefferson County. In light of the fact that there have been several significant events here in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia (formally Virginia}, it was unclear why Black history was being ignored. This trend of exclusion, if continued, would lead to the complete annihilation of important Black history for present and future generations of youth and adults. This was not acceptable.  The group made a decision to form the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society. The goal is to preserve Black history and research further facts about Jefferson County Black history. The Society has become the only acceptable authority for Jefferson County Black history.