USCTI Mini-Conference Prepares for Tubman Centennial

USCTI Mini-Conference Prepares for Tubman Centennial

November 9, 2012

The Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project [HTMP], which is the student chapter of the United States Colored Troops Institute at Hartwick College [USCTI], in Oneonta, New York, will host their fifth annual Harriet Tubman Civil War Dinner Discussion on Sunday, March 10, 2013 in honor of its namesake, and to kickoff off their involvement in commemorating the centennial of the death date of the heroine. Other local events will lead up to the hosting of the Harriet Tubman - Buffalo Soldiers Student Conference during the weekend of November 1-3, 2013 as well.

The planning for the 2013 events commenced during the weekend of November 2-4, 2012 during the annual mini-conference and think tank hosted by the USCTI, a national membership body established in 1998 to devote research, preservation, and commemoration of the 200,000 black soldiers and their 7,000 white officers of the Civil War. The organization has since expanded its realm, including focus upon the Revolutionary War through World War II, and is recognized today by the National Park Service as a facility of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

The HTMP has been recognized by the American Historical Association and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu) respectively as a model for the engagement of minority students in history and as a "best practice" for mentoring students of underrepresented groups.

Last week during the USCTI mini-conference, the HTMP was joined by other students who are enrolled in "History 270 - Revisiting Roots," providing a balanced discussion regarding the legacy of Harriet Tubman from a multi-ethnic and multi-racial perspective.

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

According to Kennequa Carlton '13, president of the Pluralism Associates League for Students and a senior Tubman Mentor, "the students thought it was a good experience, educationally and enjoyable." Also attending the event was senior Laureena Harris '13, a Tubman Mentor, who expressed that "everyone thought the experience was educational, but want the 2013 Harriet Tubman - Buffalo Soldiers Conference to include more diverse mediums, going beyond traditional power point presentations." It was a feeling expressed by other students as well.

The conference will focus primarily upon Tubman's three-prong engagement as an anti-slavery advocate, Underground Railroad conductor, and her assistance provided to the Union Army during the Civil War. An additional focus will be upon the African American military men who became known as the Buffalo Soldiers, who extended the fight for ending slavery during the Spanish-American War in Cuba, and who later held an encampment in Oneonta in 1913. The plan for the conference is to invite students from various colleges and universities who have been engaged in primary research, as well as others who wish to learn how to conduct historical research in their local communities. Proposals for presentations will be encouraged from across academic disciplines.

An opportunity will also be available for students to use items in the privately owned Matthews Collection for the Preservation of Freedom Journey Classics, which is comprised primarily of 2,500 rare and first edition books. According to Matthews, participants at the 2013 conference will be provided with instruction in an experiential manner on how to conduct research regarding family and community history. Members of the HTMP will share their experience documenting 1) Cato Freedom, a black Revolutionary War soldier, 2) Mama Lucretia and her children's escape to Oneonta by way of the Underground Railroad, and 3) documenting local black soldiers of white regiments during the Civil War.

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