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United States Colored Troops Institute - Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project - Hartwick College

Harriet Tubman - Buffalo Soldiers Conference to Explore Historical Roots

October 29, 2013

Students at Hartwick College, known collectively as the Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project (HTMP), have continued a 20-year tradition of exploring history through the lens of heroes and heroines of the African Diaspora which frequently intersects with family history research.

The HTMP was established by Hartwick College Associate Dean and U.S. Pluralism Center Director Harry Bradshaw Matthews. He is also the founding president of the United States Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research (USCTI), which is recognized by the National Park Service as a (research) facility of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The HTMP was recognized in December 2009 by the Association of American Historians as a national model for the engagement of African American and Hispanic students in history. Through the USCTI, students learn about the intersection of their respective ancestors who hail not only from the United States, but also from other areas such as the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and more.

This year's event, to be held during the weekend of November 1-3, will include an exhibit at the U.S. Pluralism Center in Bresee Hall on the Hartwick College campus, which will be available for public viewing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, November 1. On display during this time will be rare items about the Buffalo Soldiers, as well as the first-time showing of other collectibles in the privately-owned Matthews Collection for the Preservation of Freedom Journey Classics. Among the collectibles are examples of biographies and autobiographies of African American abolitionists, as well as first edition novels that challenged the slavery system and one after the Civil War that glorified the Southern way of life - "The Belle of the Bluegrass Country," by Hannah Daviess Pittman.

The 1906 novel by Pittman evoked sentimental congratulations from numerous leading state and national officials, some of which were preserved by the author in a scrapbook. Today, the contents of that scrapbook are preserved in the Matthews Collection. Also available for viewing are several original writings of Isaac Newton Arnold, an alumnus of the Hartwick Seminary and Academy who emerged as a participant of the Underground Railroad and a leading politician and friend of Abraham Lincoln.

Presentations throughout the day on Saturday will give a special tribute to Harriet Tubman and the famed Buffalo Soldiers, which will allow for stories to be shared that span the African American Freedom Journey from the slavery period through the Korean War. In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the death year of Tubman, Matthews will reveal a specially designed commemorative pin, as well as the 1863 autobiographical article of Tubman's life that appeared in The Anglo-African newspaper. A reprint of the article in booklet form was copyrighted by Matthews in 2012. Both items will be distributed to participants at the mini-conference.

On Saturday evening, an award dinner will be held, during which Gail Muhammad and the Snowell family from Pottsville, PA, will be presented with the USCT Institute President's Award recognizing their continuing efforts to document their local church involvement with the Underground Railroad and their successful efforts to honor US Colored Troops who are buried in a local cemetery.

The mini-conference is traditionally limited to a small group of participants, including students of Hartwick College and invited guest mentors, which allows for extensive interchange between the students and guests. This year, Darlene Colόn of Lancaster, PA will provide a presentation titled, "Family Research: Connecting the Underground Railroad and the USCT." She is a descendant of Abraham Quamony, a participant at the Christiana Riot of 1851 in Christiana, PA, that challenged the legality of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Also delivering a presentation will be Madeline Scott of Amherst, NY, whose talk is called "Ancestors in the USCT." She is a descendant of Thomas Henry Barnes, a member of the Frederick Douglass Monument Committee that was responsible for the unveiling of the Douglass Monument in 1899 in Rochester, NY. Dr. Edythe Ann Quinn, professor of history at Hartwick College and founding member of the USCTI, is also scheduled to share her research about Noah White, a formerly enslaved man who enlisted in the 9th USCT, then settled in the Hills/Westchester County and raised a family.

Other presentations during the conference will include Randrea Dukes '15, who will share her original poem honoring Tubman and M'Kaila Clark '17, who will share a 1929 obituary article about her great-great-grandfather Nathaniel Clark that appeared in a local newspaper. Other student presenters will share presentations about 27 heroes and heroines included in their lessons about the Freedom Journey.

To learn more about the event, contact Matthews at 607-431-4428 or at 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