Jacqueline Lanier, 55, collected, displayed African-American artifacts

October 14, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Jacqueline Lanier, who spent a lifetime gathering African-American artifacts and collectibles she displayed and exhibited to schoolchildren, died of a respiratory ailment Wednesday at her Walbrook Junction home. She was 55.

Born Jacqueline Ruth Lanier in Roxbury, Mass., she moved to Baltimore in 1954 and was a 1965 graduate of Carver Vocational-Technical High School.

As a teen, she taught dance at Lafayette Courts Recreation Center and was an assistant coach of synchronized swimming at the Chick Webb Recreation Center in East Baltimore. She earned an education degree from Morgan State University and was a leader at the Towanda Recreation Center. She was also active in the Camp Fire Girls.

"She began collecting in Boston in 1951 when she got an autograph from [entertainer] Josephine Baker," said her sister, Deborah Lanier Dance of Baltimore. "Every time Jackie had 10 cents, she spent eight cents of it in her collecting. She built an eclectic collection of history. Each room of her house focused on a different field, black sports, military history or entertainment."

Ms. Lanier also gathered old kitchen implements and furniture from friends and relatives that she displayed at her home. "Her kitchen decor was built around blacks in early advertisements," her sister said, adding that the racial stereotypes used for such products as pancake mix and Bull Durham tobacco did not bother her.

"I didn't decide it was a museum," Ms. Lanier told The Sun in 1994. "The public decided it was a museum. About 10 years ago, people said, `You have to share this stuff.' So I do."

In 1992, Ms. Lanier was inducted into the Black Collectors' Hall of Fame during a black collectibles weekend held in Washington.

"She welcomed anybody with a quest for knowledge into her home," her sister said. "She never charged admission."

Ms. Lanier also was host of a radio talk show, The Call of the Ancestors, on Morgan State University's WEAA-FM from 1992 to 1999.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Morgan Christian Interfaith Center, 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane.

In addition to her sister, survivors include a son, Raymond Lanier; two brothers, John S. Lanier Jr. and Timothy R. Lanier; and two other sisters, Elladonna Lanier and Jodie Williams. All are of Baltimore..

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