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About the Document Archive

This collection of original muster rolls, pay vouchers, enlistment papers, and discharge forms has been methodically assembled from auctions, rare manuscript dealers, and fellow collectors over the past 25 years.

A document lays on a light board to show a water mark on the paper.

Future Plans for the Documents

The archive was acquired from a private collection, thanks to the generosity of several donors. The archive documents the military service of men of African and Native American descent who served in the ranks of the Continental Army. This vast and varied archive provides the opportunity to explore the lives of hundreds of veterans of color, considering their difficult choices and analyzing the intersection of their lives with the complex world in which they lived.

The Museum plans to display select documents as rotations in its core galleries and in the upcoming special exhibition Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, opening in February 2023. Plans are also underway to digitize the documents, supplemented with supporting materials, as a robust new resource for scholars, educators, students, and other communities of learners.





To be able to see the names of these men and know that they held these papers in their hands is incredibly powerful. They also document the complicated racial dynamics of an army fighting for the principle that ‘all men are created equal’ in a nation where slavery was still legal.
Dr. Philip C. Mead, Chief Historian

The Archive in the News

Read a selection of featured press clips about the recently acquired archive of documents.

Pomp London Jeffrey Brace Document Dsc0684
 
The Philadelphia Inquirer

How an enslaved Black soldier fought for independence and won his freedom

February 9, 2022

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephan Salisbury spoke with a descendent of Jeffrey Brace, whose 1810 memoir documents his life from enslavement to freedom and whose nickname — Pomp London — appears on documents in the recently acquired archive.

Read More

Related Highlights from Our Collection

View additional manuscripts and printed works documenting the experiences of people of African descent during the American Revolution.

Cash Pallentine's Continental Army Discharge
 

Cash Pallentine's Continental Army Discharge

Cash Pallentine, who served in the Continental Army from 1777 through the end of the war, was among hundreds of African Americans who served in Connecticut regiments during the Revolution.
See Object
Image 091120 Phillis Wheatley Poems Book Collection Phillis Wheatley Poems
Gift of Dr. Marion T. Lane 

Phillis Wheatley's Poetry

This original copy of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, published in 1773, was written by Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman author.

See Object
Image 120320 16x9 Collections Creamware Punchbowl 1
 

Creamware Punch Bowl

Produced in England in the 1790s, this ceramic punch bowl was made to be purchased by an American and is an example of how people used everyday objects to express political opinions.
See Object

Support this Project

Please contact our Development department at 267.579.3580 to learn more.

Pomp London Document Dsc0673
Documents From Forgotten Founders Archive Dsc0398

Additional funding is needed for the digitization, conservation, and to support the development of educational programming related to the nearly 200 documents. To learn how you can help support this project, please contact our Development department at 267.579.3580.

Donate

Support for the document archive is provided by:



Image lists donor names including Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III in memory of Daniel W. Offit, Denise Foderaro and Frank Quattrone, Bank of America, Philip Syng Reese, Ed and Cyma Satell, with additional support from Timothy Collins and the Museum of the American Collections Society.