I was sad to read about the death of Eugene Jackson, a member of one of Portland’s oldest African-American families (“Feature obituary: Eugene Jackson, 92, Portland native, member of famed Tuskegee Airmen,” Sept. 27). He preserved a remarkable collection illustrating early African-American life in Maine.

I met Mr. Jackson in 1993 when I was researching “Anchor of the Soul,” a film about Portland’s Abyssinian Church. His great-great-grandfather Reuben Ruby founded the Abyssinian, the third-oldest African-American meetinghouse in the country.

Mr. Jackson allowed us to film family photos and other artifacts. I particularly remember a journal written by one of his ancestors, a ship’s steward in the 1800s. There are very few such accounts of African-Americans working in the maritime trades.

When I interviewed Mr. Jackson for the film, he told a story about dance lessons held in his school gym class. The story illustrated racial attitudes in Portland during the 1920s and ’30s.

“There weren’t any black girls,” he recalled. “So therefore I didn’t participate in learning to dance because somebody would always frown upon mixed dancing at that time.”

The last time I saw Mr. Jackson was on May 5, 1997, three years after the film’s release.

The Abyssinian Church had been neglected for decades, and it was in terrible shape. But the city finally recognized its historic value.

That night, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to sell the building for $250 to a nonprofit group that would restore it. The price matched Reuben Ruby’s original expense purchasing the land.

As I recall, Mr. Jackson paid the money himself, thus honoring his ancestors and ensuring that the building would survive.

They say that when an elder dies, a library burns to the ground. Thanks to Mr. Jackson’s efforts, his family’s stories will live on, enlightening all of us about the lives of African-Americans in Maine.

Shoshana Hoose

Portland