Hartwick Joins National USCT Commemoration

September 17, 2010

A delegation of 17 members of Hartwick College's United States Colored Troops Institute and its Harriet Harry Bradshaw MatthewsTubman Mentoring Project will travel to Harrisburg, PA, November 5-7 to take part in the United States Colored Troops Grand Review commemoration.

The event marks the 145th anniversary of the USCT Grand Review, held in 1865 after President Andrew Johnson refused to allow representatives of the more than 150,000 surviving black Civil War soldiers to march in the National Grand Review that May.

Led by Associate Dean and Director of U.S. Pluralism Programs Harry Bradshaw Matthews, the delegation will serve as New York's official representatives as the commemoration event. Their travel is being partially paid for by a $2,000 scholarship from Pennsylvania's Cultural and Heritage Tourism Program of the Department of Community and Economic Development. They will join delegates from 25 states in marking the anniversary.

"Dean Matthews and our Hartwick students have played an important role in discovering, documenting, and preserving the contributions of men and women of African descent in the evolution of U.S. history and culture," said Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich, Hartwick College President. "Their work has added significantly to the country's understanding of these important individuals. My colleagues and I are proud of their scholarly efforts, and of the recognition they receive through this invitation to participate in the United States Colored Troops Grand Review commemoration."

Matthews also will serve as keynote speaker November 4 during the event's Annual meeting of Pennsylvania Sites of the Network to Freedom and Pennsylvania Underground Railroad Fall Colloquium and Chautauqua: "African American Patriots and the Quest for Freedom." That event will be held at the National Civil War Museum, and Matthews' presentation will focus on connecting the USCT with descendants and local communities. He will draw upon his research and writings, which document the USCT from Gettysburgh, Long Island, and Otsego and Delaware counties. Matthews will then join the New York delegation on November 6 for the Grand Review parade and its exhibition table.

The commemoration comes on the heels of a busy summer for Matthews, who spent the past few months revising his 1992 book, Whence They Came: The Families of the United States Colored Troops of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1815-1995. The revised edition has been donated to 25 state and university libraries and complements Matthews' 2008 book, African American Freedom Journey in New York and Related Sies, 1823-1870: Freedom Knows No Color. Already, the newest tome has garnered responses from Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs, the New Jersey State Library, Cornell Uniaversity, the New York State Library, and General Colin Powell, who contacted Matthews about the "wonderful addition to [his] library."

Leading up to the Harrisburg commemoration, Matthews also will take part in two related events honoring the role of African Americans in the struggle to end slavery in the United States:

- On September 29, he will deliver a presentation at the New York State Library in Albany as part of a series supporting and enhancing the traveling exhibit "Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln's Journey to Emancipation." He will discuss how Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation set into motion the eventual enlistment of 200,000 black soldiers in the Union ranks, and how documents of the time can be used by descendants to trace their ancestry to the soldiers.

- On October 16, he will join Hartwick students in the Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project and several other guests in delivering presentations for "A Day of Remembrance: Commemorating the Connection of USCT and their Descendants in Central New York" at Hartwick College. The event will be an opportunity for local and regional residents to share with each other stories about their families, dating back to the Civil War era. Matthews will have available the names of most local residents who were drafted into the military during the Civil War. Participants also may review a group of items from the Matthews Collection that will be on display at November's Grand Review commemoration event, and can learn techniques for tracing family members.

As part of the USCTI's ongoing work, Matthews also is seeking assistance with identifying descendants of the USCT residing in New York. His hope is to have as great a representation as possible of the 4,125 black soldiers and their white officers who were credited to the state during the Civil War. Any individual, preservation group, or community that shares information about documented USCT soldiers will receive a certificate from the USCTI. Those interested in joining the recovery effort can request free assistance from the institute through October 8 by e-mailing Matthews at

For more about Hartwick's USCT Institute, visit

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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 a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Jen Moritz
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