Harry Bradshaw Matthews

USCTI Takes New Twist Aimed at Harriet Tubman Centennial

October 29, 2012

A group of Hartwick College students, known collectively as the "Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project" (HTMP), will be placed front and center at the United States Colored Troops Institute's (USCTI) annual meeting during the weekend of November 2-4, 2012. The meeting will mark the beginning of the planning by HTMP members for its Harriet Tubman-Buffalo Soldiers Student Conference, scheduled for the 2013-14 academic year as a centennial tribute to the heroine's date of death on March 10, 1913.

The planning for the 2013-14 student conference is following the most recent recognition of the HTMP as "a best practice" by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu). The student group has also been recognized by the American Association of Historians as a national model for the engagement of minority students with history.

Joining the HTMP members at the November gathering will be the group's organizer and preceptor, Harry Bradshaw Matthews, who is Associate Dean and Director of the U.S. Pluralism Center at Hartwick College. Matthews, who is also the founding president of the USCTI, will be joined by workshop presenters including Darlene Colón, president of the historic Christina (PA) Historical Society and senior fellow and vice president of the USCT, as well as Hartwick College Professor of History and USCTI Founding Member Dr. Edythe Ann Quinn.

The occasion will also serve as an opportunity for HTMP senior members to deliver instructional lessons to new members. The planning sessions will focus upon the best means for HTMP members to share their primary research experiences with students from other colleges and universities. Highlighted will be the documenting of Oneonta as an Underground Railroad site, as well as the 1913 historic encampment of the Buffalo Soldiers in Oneonta. A further aim of the conference will be to provide an opportunity for visiting students to learn of potential personalities from their respective college communities who contributed to the Freedom Journey. The goal is to encourage new research projects throughout both the region and New York State.

The HTMP was organized in 2007 by Matthews to assist with local history research in pursuing the mission of the USCTI. The USCTI was established 15 years ago to provide a collegial experiment for like-minded historians and genealogists who were interested in sharing research findings and information from their personal collections about the 200,000 black soldiers and their 7,000 white officers of the Civil War.

While the overall goal of the USCTI has remained the same, local efforts were shifted when the HTMP was organized to reflect the content of a rare 1863 newspaper article in which Harriet Tubman expressed her life journey and pursuits as an escaped slave, Underground Railroad agent, and contributor to the Union Forces during the Civil War. The three-prong focus of the article has been guiding Matthews in his efforts to prepare students to understand the intersection of anti-slavery sentiments, abolitionist actions, the Underground Railroad, and the United States Colored Troops, which Matthews defines as the "Freedom Journey". A unique aspect of HTMP is that its work is supported by the privately owned Matthews Collection that is comprised of 2,500 items, most of which are rare and related to the Freedom Journey.

The effort has been so successful over the years that both the USCTI and HTMP have gained the attention of The American Historical Association, The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, The National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

For additional information, 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 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: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031