Art of Housekeeping
Oney Cunningham, a girl of only 9 years old, was entered into this indenture agreement with Alexander Cunningham to be an apprentice to learn the art of housekeeping. The Freedmen’s Bureau supervised indenture and apprenticeship agreements. Under these contracts, black school-age, orphaned, and destitute children were bound to former owners as laborers.
Indenture Agreement of Alexander Cunningham, 11/21/1865
Louis Armstrong Registers for the Draft
Future jazz great Louis Armstrong of New Orleans was among nearly 24 million men aged 18–45 who registered for the draft during 1917–18, a requirement of the new Selective Service System. Notice that his first name is recorded incorrectly as Lewis. And while his date of birth was recorded as July 4, 1900, Armstrong was actually born on August 4, 1901.
World War I Draft Registration Card for Louis Armstrong, 09/12/1918; from the series: Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918
"In checking with the Special Service Branch I was told there were no openings for Colored Officers in that field, I request to be retired from the services and be placed on reserve as I feel I can’t be of more service to the government doing defense work rather than being on limited duty with an outfit that is already better than 100% over strength in officers."
Request from Jack “Jackie” R. Robinson to the Adjutant General for Retirement from Active Duty, 08/25/1944
Only weeks earlier, Lt. Jack R. Robinson had been court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and ultimately received an honorable discharge.
Wedding while at war
"Chaplain William T. Green reads the benediction at the marriage ceremony of Pfc. Florence A. Collins, a WAC of the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion, to Cpl. William A. Johnson of the 1696th Labor Supervision Co. This is the first Negro marriage to be performed in the European Theater of Operations.” 08/19/1945
Wherever you are, you can attend our virtual Genealogy Fair!
Join us September 3 and 4 for expert speakers from the National Archives and a chance to ask your questions through a live chat box on our Ustream channel.
You can also tweet your questions to @usnatarchives #genfair2013.
We’ll be discussing Native American and African American history, immigration, Civil War pensions, U.S. Colored Troops, and Navy Deck logs.
Details here: http://go.usa.gov/j7hQ
Chow on the Battlefield
"Private First Class Clarence Whitmore, voice radio operator, 24th Infantry Regiment, reads the latest news while enjoying chow during lull in battle, near Sangju, Korea., 08/09/1950"
"…the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama campus to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro."
Draft of the President John F. Kennedy’s civil rights speech on June 11, 1963, written by Theodore S. Sorensen with notes by Robert F. Kennedy, following Alabama Governor George Wallace’s refusal to admit two African American applicants to the University of Alabama, James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones.
Click to see the full draft as well as the final speech, which was delivered by the President nationwide on radio and television.
From May 22 to 31, the digital collection of the USCT Service Records will be free on www.Fold3.com.
On May 22, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders 143, establishing a Bureau of Colored Troops in the Adjutant General’s Office to recruit and organize African American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. With this order, all African American regiments were designated as United States Colored Troops (USCT).
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the USCT, and the National Archives is pleased to announce the completion of the USCT Service Records Digitization Project. In partnership with Fold3, the project provides online access to all service records—more than 3.8 million images—of Union volunteers in USCT units.
Remember: All National Archives collections on Fold3.com can always be viewed for free at a computer at any National Archives facility nationwide.
The photo and paperwork above come from the compiled military service records of former slave Edmund Delaney. Read his story on the Prologue blog.
War Department General Order 143: Ordering the Creation of the U.S. Colored Troops, May 22, 1863
The outbreak of the Civil War set off a rush by free black men to enlist in U.S. military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. Army. The Lincoln administration wrestled with the idea of authorizing the recruitment of black troops, concerned that such a move would prompt the border states to secede.
However, following the Emancipation Proclamation and faced with dwindling white volunteers, black recruitment was pursued in earnest. Volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Massachusetts filled the first authorized black regiments. Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship. (Two of Douglass’s own sons contributed to the war effort.) Volunteers began to respond, and in May 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the burgeoning numbers of black soldiers. By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10 percent of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army, and another 19,000 served in the Navy.
via Our Documents
"I respectfully remind you sir, that we have been the most patient of all people."
-Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower of May 13, 1958
After he retired from Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights from his position as a prominent executive of the Chock Full o’Nuts Corporation.
Robinson had grown increasingly impatient with what he regarded as President Eisenhower’s failure to act decisively in combating racism. In this letter dated May 13, 1958, he expresses his frustration and calls upon the President to finally guarantee Federal support of black civil rights.
BLACK FAMILY ENJOYING THE SUMMER WEATHER AT CHICAGO’S 12TH STREET BEACH ON LAKE MICHIGAN. FROM 1960 TO 1970 THE PERCENTAGE OF CHICAGO BLACKS WITH AN INCOME OF $7,000 OR MORE JUMPED FROM 26 TO 58%. MEDIAN BLACK INCOME DURING THE PERIOD INCREASED FROM $4,700 TO $7,883, BUT THE DOLLAR GAP BETWEEN THEIR GROUP AND THE WHITES ACTUALLY WIDENED, 08/1973
From the Records of the Environmental Protection Agency (12/02/1970-)
Earlier today, the National Archives in Washington, DC hosted Jimmie Walker the actor who played J.J. Evans in the 1970s television show Good Times and the author of Dynomite!: Good Times, Bad Times and Our Times- A Memoir.
Watch the archived webcast here: http://www.ustream.tv/usnationalarchives
Jimmie Walker got his start performing comedy in small clubs, and ultimately became a 1970s icon playing J.J. Evans on Good Times.
Walker will be talking about his memoir at the National Archives on Friday, May 3, at noon.
He was the first successful young black sitcom star, and his catchphrase—“Dyn-o-mite!”—remains an indicator of the era. In Dynomite!, Walker talks candidly about his rise and the tensions on the set of Good Times that contradict the show’s image of a close-knit blue-collar family.
A book signing will follow the program.