“‘Brave Deeds Are Proudly Spoken of’: African American Military Service”

Date: 1 February-1 May 2011
Location and time: Rare Book Room cases during library hours
Contact information: Jennifer Thompson, 919-660-5922 or jennifer2.thompson(at)duke.edu

Colored tintype of a Civil War soldier, ca. 1860s. From the Picture File, 1600-1979.

African Americans have had an important, if not always publicized, role in every American war. Our new exhibit, “‘Brave Deeds Are Proudly Spoken of’: African American Military Service,” explores some of the ways in which the stories of these men and women have been recorded and asks the question, “How should this story be told for future generations?”

During the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, many African Americans sought to gain freedom by enlisting in the military, which they believed would eventually ensure them rights and privileges as American citizens. In the conflicts of the 20th century, African Americans fought bravely to defend their nation abroad only to return home to discrimination and segregation. On display are artifacts, documents, photographs, and printed material that reveal these struggles and triumphs of African Americans in the U.S. military.

This exhibit highlights one of the collecting interests of the John Hope Franklin Research Center, which is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Post contributed by Jennifer Thompson, John Hope Franklin Research Center Librarian.