Our founding history

About Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery


JJustinGwenRagsdale_22“Lest We Forget” –Museum of Slavery, founded 2002 is home to the private Ragsdale collection of slavery artifacts, Bill of Sale documents and Jim Crow memorabilia owned by J. Justin & Gwen Ragsdale. The exhibit includes authentic slave shackles, chains, whips, branding irons and other items that were used for human bondage and punishment. It also includes numerous objects from the Jim Crow era that negatively depict Blacks.

This compelling collection truly brings history alive and provides a better understanding of the pain and suffering endured by kidnapped Africans brought to America and other parts of the world and held in bondage for hundreds of years.

The LWF extensive collection of slavery artifacts and other items were acquired over the past 45 years by J. Justin Ragsdale. LWF Museum is the only museum in Philadelphia, PA with authentic slavery artifacts that include: shackles, branding irons and other forms of punishing ironware from the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Their collection also includes numerous genuine documents that promoted the buying and selling of enslaved Africans. These rare collectibles bring history to life. Together we provide moving presentations and use items in the collection to demonstrate what it was truly like to “Be a Slave”.

Mr. Ragsdale’s vast experience has made him a renowned expert in authenticating slavery artifacts, documents and the like. Both collectors and sellers constantly call upon him for his knowledge. During presentations he uses several of his extraordinary collectibles to demonstrate and explain what it was truly like to “Be a Slave”.

Gwen uses her skills to deliver compelling presentations that she inter-weaves with historic accounts and actual slave narratives. She coordinates the museum tours, traveling exhibits and researches and writes the contextual descriptive panels displayed throughout the collection.

Together, the Ragsdale’s shed light on a dark and tragic period in American history and pays tribute to the generations of slave ancestors who greatly contributed to the building of America. Lest We Forget Slavery Museum and LWF Traveling Exhibit(s) perfectly document how differently coming to America was for enslaved Africans.

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Philadelphia Community of Leaders (PCOL) is dedicated to addressing the systemic issues facing African Americans in the City of Philadelphia.

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