African American Faces of the Civil War

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African American Faces of the Civil WarIllustrated book talk by Ronald S. Coddington

During the Civil War, an estimated 200,000 African American men enlisted in the Union army or navy. Some were free men and some escaped from slavery, while others were released by sympathetic slaveholders to serve the war effort. "African American Faces of the Civil War" tells the story of the Civil War through the images of men of color who served in roles that ranged from servants and laborers to enlisted men and junior officers.

Photograph collector/historian Coddington discovered these portraits -- cartes de visite, ambrotypes, and tintypes -- in museums, archives, and private collections. He has pieced together each individual’s life and fate based upon personal documents, military records, and pension files. These stories tell of ordinary men who became fighters, of the prejudice they faced, and of the challenges they endured.

Ron Coddington is a contributor to the New York Times Disunion series.  His monthly "Faces of War" columns in the Civil War News, profiling individual enlisted men, were published by the John Hopkins University Press in three collections that profile Union, Confederate, and African American soldiers.  Copies of his books will be available for purchase and signing at the event. 

This special program at the Royall House and Slave Quarters is co-sponsored by the Medford Historical Society​ & Museum and The Friends of the Medford Public Library, and is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council​, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.