Matthews to Speak at USCT Grand Review Commemoration

July 22, 2010

Hartwick College Associate Dean and Director of U.S. Pluralism Programs Harry Bradshaw Matthews has been chosen as keynote speaker for a luncheon during the USCT Grand Review Commemoration November 3-7 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The luncheon—the 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”—will take place November 4 at the National Civil War Museum.

On November 6, Matthews also will participate as a member of a platform party and will join Hartwick students from the Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project in the Grand Review Procession. They also will take part in an exhibit of rare items from the Matthews Collection.

Organized by Director of Heritage Tourism for Pennsylvania Lenwood Sloan, the five-day re-enactment will mark the 145th anniversary of a USCT Grand Review of 180,000 black soldiers of the Civil War. The November 1865 event took place in response to a snub by then-President Andrew Johnson, who excluded black soldiers from a national Grand Review earlier that year in an attempt to distance his administration from the goals of his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln.

As part of the commemoration, Sloan has encouraged every town and village in Pennsylvania to locate burial sites of USCT members and to identify their descendants, an effort that is having good results, Matthews said. At Hartwick, the USCT Institute for Local History and Family Research has been designated by the New York State Museum as the state’s official representative at the Grand Review, with Matthews leading a delegation of USCT Institute members, Hartwick students, and possibly USCT descendants.

“These invitations are as important as when the USCT Institute was honored in 1998 with a proclamation from Gov. George E. Pataki,” he said. Since that beginning, several honors and awards have been bestowed upon Matthews for his work with the USCT Institute, including the publication of several related books. Today, the Institute is an endorsed site of the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Leading up to the Harrisburg commemoration, Matthews 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.” Matthews 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. Participants also may review a group of items from the Matthews Collection that will be on display at November’s Harrisburg event, and can learn techniques for tracing family members.

As part of the institute’s ongoing work, Matthews also is seeking assistance with identifying descendants of 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 USCT Institute. 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 1,480 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.

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