Celebrate Black History Month with Free Access to Black History Records
In 2013, Fold3 recognizes the 150th anniversary of two historic events in African American History: the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863; and the establishment of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) on May 22, 1863.
As soon as black soldiers were recruited to serve the Union, records were generated to document their service, includingCompiled Service Records for the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT). While most of the service records were digitized from microfilm, Fold3 is also scanning and digitizing millions of documents for the 56th-138th USCT regiments directly from textual records at the National Archives.
Scores of the USCT service records can already be connected to applications for widows and dependents of USCT soldiers within the Civil War "Widows' Pensions" on Fold3. Charles Hill, a sergeant who enlisted in Company A, 2nd Infantry USCT on June 23, 1863, provides an example of such a connection. He was formerly an oysterman from Isle of Wight County, Virginia. He was killed in battle at Natural Bridge, Florida, on March 6, 1865, a couple months shy of war’s end. His pension file confirms that he "died instantly on the field," and contains many documents relating to his family and his service to the North in the U.S. Colored Troops.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founders of Black History Month, have themed this year's celebration "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington." The historic march took place 100 years after the momentous events of 1863. It was another significant milestone in African American History, as Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the memorial to the man who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation—Abraham Lincoln.
Explore millions of military records and photos documenting the history of African Americans, from before the Civil War to the War in Vietnam. Join us as we recognize Black History Month and provide free access to the Black History Collection on Fold3.
* Free Access ends February 28, 2013 at Midnight