Our Black Heritage

Historical Documents



Tuskegee Airman Joseph Curry in Cockpit

Tuskegee Airman Joseph Curry and Wife

Military Records and Documents

1942-43 Tuskegee Airman Yearbook, including photograph of Benjamin Davis, who becomes first African American Air Force General

Martin Luther King, Jr. Date Book, 1957

Date book of MLK Jrs., kept by his personal assistant for the year 1957.  Features include pages of historical significance, including MLK’s meeting with then Vice President Nixon.  February 15, 1957, June 13, 1957.

President Truman Letter, 1943 – Letter from President Harry Truman to Tuskegee Airman Joseph C. Curry thanking him for his service and stating “We now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace.”

22nd Regiment Release from Duty– April 19, 1864 –
Document commending this regiment for their service and rapid development of “soldierly character”

Buffalo Soldiers – Release from Duty – May 13, 1874 –
Discharge paper for an African American soldier who served on the Western Front

Provisional Commission – 39th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops – March, 1864 –
Officer’s pay voucher with an African American servant

Provisional Commission – 36th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops – July 18, 1864 –
Original Provisional Commission for Surgeon J. Clark Stockton Singleton for the 36th Regiment of the US Colored Troops, July 18, 1864. The document was signed by Major General Benjamin Butler

David Hunter’s Endorsement of R. Harris – August 25, 1862 –
Endorsement by Major General David Hunter [the first Union General to order the abolishment of slavery in the south]

Supply Requisition – 17th US Colored Troops Regiment – July 1, 1865 –
17th US Colored Troops, 1865, Nashville, Tennessee

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Colonel of the First Negro Regiment of the Union Army –
(A handwritten note In response to a request for an autograph)

Slavery and Freedom Artifacts

Lawsuit to Force the Sale of Slaves – May 8, 1856 –
A petition whereby a man accepted the use of several slaves as collateral for a loan, and since the laon has gone unpaid for several years, asks that the court allow the slaves to be sold so that he can get his money back.

“Free Born” Slave Certification– December 22, 1841 –
A document certifying that “Eliza Rector, age about fourteen years, is a free person.” Dated Dec. 22, 1841

Slave Child Photograph (Rebecca) , 1864 –
Printed description on the verso indicates that the proceeds from the sale of the photo…”will be devoted to the education of the colored people in the department of the Gulf, under the command of Major General Banks…”

Anti-slavery Book – Published in 1837 –
Excerpts from an anti-slavery book using scriptural references [from William Lloyd Garrison’s personal copy, with handwritten notations]

Slave Rental Agreement/Receipt– January 8, 1857 –
Images of a rental agreement/receipt for the rental of a slave

Abolition of the Slave Trade outside the U.S.  – Mid 1800’s – 1907 –
Political and consumer and advertisements with African American images from the mid to late 1800’s and beyond

Abolition of the Slave Trade outside the U.S.  – January 13, 1794 –
Excerpts from the 3rd Congress, which includes an act prohibiting slave trade with other nations, signed into law by President George Washington, January 31, 1794. This was the personal copy of Henry Dearborn. Dearborn was an American General; Colonel on President George Washington’s staff; and Secretary of War under President Thomas Jefferson

A letter from African American educator, Booker T. Washington – May 26, 1900 –
Booker T. Washington, (1856-1915), established the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute [for the practical training of African Americans in trades and professions]. Mr. Washington wrote this letter, dated May 26, 1900, to Samuel Fessenden, trying to raise funds. “…I write thinking that you might like to take some interest in our work. Our students pay their own board, partly in cash and partly in labor, but are wholly unable to pay their tuition in addition…”

“In the News” – Clippings from the 1800’s

Amistad Article – Portland Transcript – April 10, 1841 –
Article about the Amistad from the Portland Transcript, April 10, 1841

How Negroes Voted in Kentucky” – August 14, 1870 –
Newspaper article from the “Daily Alta California”, August 14, 1870, San Francisco

Richmond Whig – December 31, 1862 –
Front page of newspaper from December 31, 1862

Negroes Argue Their Own Case” – August 18, 1865 –
Article from the Vermont Watchman & State Journal newspaper, August 18, 1865

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