Harry Bradshaw Matthews

USCTI Celebrates African American History Month with Frederick Douglass Exhibit

February 7, 2013

As African American History Month proceeds with the celebration of this year's theme, "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington," the United States Colored Troops Institute (USCTI) at Hartwick College is hosting an exhibit titled "Frederick Douglass and Select Players of the Freedom Journey: Frederick Douglass Images and Related Items." The exhibit includes pictorials of some of the leading personalities of the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.

The exhibited images are provided courtesy of the Matthews Collection for the Preservation of Freedom Journey Classics, a privately owned collection that provides support for the work of the USCTI and its student chapter, the Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project (HTMP). The images, as well as others items, will be on display at the U.S. Pluralism Center, located at 101 Bresee Hall on the Hartwick College campus, beginning February 14, 2013 to honor Frederick Douglass' birthday. The exhibit is free of charge and open for public viewing during regular office hours.

Related items of particular note include a transcribed copy of the Colored American's newspaper notice of Otsego County as a part of the Underground Railroad in 1838, according to Harry Bradshaw Matthews, Associate Dean and Director of the U.S. Pluralism Center at Hartwick College. There will also be a facsimile of the 1853 report in Frederick Douglass' Paper that identified Robert S. Cook of Oneonta as a contributor to the Chaplin Fund that supported the legal defense of Underground Railroad agents. Cook is buried in his family cemetery in West Oneonta.

Visitors will also be able to review the two recently copyrighted 16-page booklets titled respectively, "Harriet Tubman: Her Interview with the Anglo-African, Published August 29, 1863" and "The Freedom Journey: The Underground Railroad to the Buffalo Soldiers in Otsego County, New York". Both writings have relevance to this year's African American History theme, as well as to the national commemoration of the centennial of Harriet Tubman's Date of Death on March 10, 2013. Matthews recently received copyright certificates for both writings, which provide the opportunity for the publications to be used as references in the local, regional, and national discussions about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

Specifically, the Tubman booklet shares the heroine's story in her own words, via an interview, including her last journey into the South during 1860, the year that Lincoln won his first term for president. It was also during that year that "Mama Lucretia" and her six children escaped on the Underground Railroad from Virginia to Oneonta, NY - a story that is now documented in the Freedom Journey booklet.

The second part of this year's African American History theme, the March on Washington, will be placed within historical context by items in the exhibit that explore the Civil Rights Movement. A special tribute will be made to Alice A. Dunnigan, the first African American female correspondent for Congress and the White House. As the Chief of the Washington Bureau for the American Negro Press (ANP), Dunnigan was instrumental in publicizing the black perspective during the Civil Rights era.

In her honor, original items on display will include a couple of pictures of Dunnigan and the First Lady, "Lady Bird" Johnson; a letter of October 1, 1965 in which Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State, invited Dunnigan to the National Foreign Policy Conference for Editors and Broadcasters; and an autographed letter of January 3, 1969, in which Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, thanked Dunnigan for her contribution as a member of the President's Council on Youth Opportunity staff.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Matthews at 607-431-4428 or

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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
Phone: 607-431-4031