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USCTI at Hartwick Issues National Call for Nominations of Buffalo Soldiers’ Families

USCTI at Hartwick Issues National Call for Nominations of Buffalo Soldiers’ Families

March 26, 2013

The United States Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research (USCTI) at Hartwick College has issued a call for communities nationwide to identify extended families of the famed "Buffalo Soldiers," a collective name for the four African American regiments of the U.S. Army, e.g., Ninth and Tenth Cavalries and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantries, who were organized after the Civil War and remained in service to World War II. It was common for any African American soldier in World War II to be identified by the public as a Buffalo Soldier.

Representatives of 25 such families will be selected and honored at the College during the weekend of November 1-3, 2013 at the Harriet Tubman-Buffalo Soldiers Student Conference. Nomination applications for families to be honored at the conference are now available, along with proposal forms for students who wish to participate at the event. The deadline for the nomination of families for recognition is Saturday, September 14, 2013.

This conference will honor the 100th anniversary of Harriet Tubman's death and the centennial of the Tenth Cavalry of the United States Army's 653-mile march from Fort Ethan Allen, VT to Winchester, VA from June 1-15, 1913. Approximately halfway through its journey, the famed regiment of the Western Frontier expeditions and the Spanish American War remained in camp at Oneonta, NY on June 28, 1913. On July 3, 1913, the Oneonta Herald reported that 732 enlisted and 32 commissioned officers were greeted by more than 3,000 spectators from the rural area without a single incident of prejudice displayed.

New research opportunities have also arisen in African American history and genealogy through the efforts of the USCTI. The only known copy of the postcard of 1913 honoring the Oneonta encampment discussed above is included within the privately owned Matthews Collection for the Preservation of Freedom Journey Classics that supports the work of the USCTI. Also included within the 2,500 item-collection are other original items pertaining to the Buffalo Soldiers, such as first editions of books published between 1899 and 1941. One of the more important writings included is the Historical and Pictorial Review of the Tenth Cavalry of the United States Army, Camp Funston - Fort Riley, Kansas that was published by the Army and Navy Publishing Company commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Tenth Cavalry. The book contains hundreds of images of the individual soldiers. In addition, hundreds of other African American soldiers are identified in other publications by name, regiment, and hometown.

According to Harry Bradshaw Matthews, the founding president of the USCTI and associate dean of U.S. Pluralism Programs at Hartwick College, the special recognitions of black soldiers and nurses have introduced a new generation of undergraduate college students to first-hand witnesses of history that have aided the students with primary research, both historical and genealogical. The Harriet Tubman-Buffalo Soldiers Student Conference in November will continue the practice, but will encourage participation from students from other colleges and universities as well. This group of students at Hartwick, known collectively as the "Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project," will also share their recent findings that helped document black Revolutionary War soldiers and the escape of Mother Lucretia from Virginia to Oneonta in 1860.

The USCTI has expanded its scope from documenting and honoring the 200,000 black soldiers and their 7,000 white officers of the Civil War to include research about the black soldiers from the Revolutionary War through World War II. The USCTI utilizes the military records of African American soldiers as a means of placing the soldiers within local historical context, as well as providing guidance to help the descendants of the soldiers document their genealogical connections. In this pursuit, numerous programs have been held since 1998 honoring Civil War soldiers at regional conferences. In addition, the USCTI has held events at Hartwick College that honored with special tributes Cato Freedom of the Revolutionary War and the Tuskegee Airmen and other soldiers and nurses of World War II.

For more information, contact Matthews at 607-431-4428 or matthewsh@hartwick.edu

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
E-mail: capullov@hartwick.edu 
Phone: 607-431-4031