U.S.C.T. Institute for Local History & Family Research
The United States Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research was established at Hartwick College in 1998 as an educational membership organization to promote and encourage research, preservation and remembrance about the United States Colored Troops, inclusive of men of African descent, Native Americans and their white officers. Since more than 80 percent of the USCT were formerly enslaved at the time of their enlistment, flight to freedom was certainly a reality for many of them.
The Institute is devoted to placing the USCT within the historical realm of the Underground Railroad. The USCTI assists multiple researchers, ranging from individual families, preservation organizations, Underground Railroad sites and the media. It has been honored with proclamations from several state governments and the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust, as well as entered into the Congressional Record, for outstanding historical and genealogical research.
Most significant about the USCTI is that its work is supported by the privately owned Matthews Collection for the Preservation of Freedom Journey Classics. It includes 2,500 items, including books about persons whose flight to freedom helped to energize the Underground Railroad, as well as a lithograph series by Civil War illustrator Thomas Nast.
The USCTI at Hartwick College was selected in 2008 as an endorsed site of the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. In April 2011, USCTI was recognized by the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom as a "Facility," acknowledging its verifiable association to the Underground Railroad story.
As part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Celebration, Hartwick will present: Diverse Voices and Faces of the Civil War, 2011-12 Civil War Symposium. The symposim will take place September through April with exhibits; presentations; trips; grave-site salutes to Civil War soldiers; and musical performance in Oneonta, Delhi, Binghamton, and Johnson City.
As part of the symposium, the USCTI & American Society of Freedmen Descendants Mini-Conference November 4-5 will take place. Northeast Regional Coordinator of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Sheri Jackson is expected to take part in opening-day events.
During the symposium, Hartwick and the College's United States Colored Troops Institute also will present "Personal Hartwick Family Stories: Our Civil War Ancestors," an exhibit of personal items that connects families' histories to the Civil War era.
Hartwick students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends are invited to submit items or documents for the exhibit. The USCTI is offering research assistance to those seeking to confirm the authenticity of documents or collectibles. Items of particular interest include genealogical and military pension records, property deeds, obituaries, military muster reports, grave-site documents, photographs, and newspaper clippings. To submit items, contact Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A final schedule of symposium events also will be announced by August 1.