USCTI Underground Railroad Research Facility
The USCTI's has recently been granted admission as a facility of the National Park Service's NationalUnderground Railroad Network to Freedom. The recognition acknowledges the institute's association with the Underground Railroad story. As founding president of the USCTI, Matthews was encouraged by several Underground Railroad groups to apply for the distinction in an effort to link the network with the institute's research efforts honoring Civil War soldiers.
The USCTI has confirmed Oneonta's historical connections to the Underground Railroad. For more than 150 years, residents of Oneonta, New York and the surrounding area maintained the city's Underground Railroad story by word of mouth, and the legend was reinforced by several local historians who cited the oral history of Eliakim Reed Ford Jr., whose father served as the railroad's local agent. Harry Bradshaw Matthews, USCTI President, located documentation supporting both that story and other local folklore about events connected to the Underground Railroad.
"Not only has a local folklore tale been documented as fact, but it has caught the attention of regional and national audiences," Matthews said, "and will continue to do so now that the USCT Institute is validated by the National Park Service and its National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom."