The Library of Congress is delighted to launch online in time for African-American History Month the William A. Gladstone Afro-American Military Collection, consisting of about 500 items. Gladstone was a historian and author of books about black Civil War troops.
The collection spans the years 1773 to 1987, with the bulk of the material dating from the Civil War period, 1861–65. The collection consists of correspondence, pay vouchers, orders, muster rolls, enlistment and discharge papers, receipts, contracts, affidavits, tax records, miscellaneous military documents and printed matter.
Most items document African-Americans in military service, especially the United States Corps d’Afrique and the United States Colored Troops, which were organized during the Civil War. Also included are many documents concerning slavery and various other Civil War documents that mention African-Americans.
Revolutionary War items are primarily pay vouchers to Connecticut blacks who served in the Continental Army. World War I is represented by the papers of Lieutenant Edward L. Goodlett of the 370th Infantry, 93rd Division.
Printed matter includes government orders, broadsides, 19th-century speeches and writings on slavery and 20th-century booklets and journal articles for scholars or collectors.
The Library of Congress purchased the collection from Gladstone in 1995. It has been kept in the numerical order established by him, which is neither topical nor chronological.
The Gladstone Collection of African-American Photographs in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division complements and enhances this collection of manuscripts.
For a chronology of key events in African-American military service, click on the screen shot below!