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Black Barbers

African-American barbers in Massillon include Clarence E. Brooks (shop at 4 South Erie Street, lower level), Alexander Simms, John Simms Jr., Harry Johnson, Elmer Wagner, and Archie Fields. At least three of these barbers were members of the Massillon Local #307 Barber's Union, seen here in 1901-1904. This photograph was scanned from the Massillon Labor Day souvenir booklets, where three unidentified men are seated. MassMu staff and researchers believe Clarence Brooks and Archie Fields may be pictured.

Clarence Brooks was born in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Canada, in 1864. In 1886 he married Agnes Atherton Wells in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to Massillon around 1901 and opened a barbershop at 4 South Erie Street.

Alexander and John Simms were sons of Civil War veteran John Simms, Co I of the 5th U.S. Colored Infantry.

If you have any information about these barbers or can help us identify these men, please let us know! Photographs: 1904 Labor Day souvenir program Massillon, Ohio Gift of A.L. Flounders (87.86) Detail of 1938 Chamber of Commerce Survey Southeast corner of Lincoln Way East and Erie Street South, showing the entrance to the below-street barbershop Gift of Mel Herncane (96.7.4) both Collection of the Massillon Museum


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