Wilberforce, Ohio

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Wilberforce is a census-designated place (CDP) in Greene County, Ohio, United States. The population was 1,579 at the 2000 census. The community was named for the English statesman William Wilberforce, who worked for abolition of slavery and achieved the end of the slave trade in Great Britain and its empire. The small community was an important stop on the Underground Railroad before the American Civil War, as it had seven stations.

The community has two historically black universities. Wilberforce University was established in 1856 by the Methodist Episcopal Church and African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1863 the AME Church bought the college after its temporary closing due to financial problems, making it the first to be owned and operated by African Americans. Many prominent scholars have taught there. The former residence in Wilberforce of Charles Young, a 19th-century US Army officer who taught at Wilberforce, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Born into slavery, he was the highest-ranking African-American officer in the US Army until after World War I.

Central State University originated as a commercial, normal and industrial department established at Wilberforce in the late 19th century. In the 20th century, the department was established as a separate institution, and expanded to a college and university.

The Ohio Historical Society operates the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, which provides exhibits and learning opportunities for the regional community. The Association of African American Museums, also located in Wilberforce and supported by the private university, works to build professional capacity among smaller museums.

Wilberforce is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area.



Wilberforce is located at 39°42′57″N 83°52′48″W / 39.71583°N 83.88°W / 39.71583; -83.88 (39.715739, -83.880022).[3]

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