Patriots of Color Archive: Black and Indigenous Soldiers in the Revolutionary War
Nearly 200 rare documents bearing the names of Black and Native American soldiers who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War are now part of the Museum's collection.
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.
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.
Select Documents from the Archive
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.
How an enslaved Black soldier fought for independence and won his freedomFebruary 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.
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
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.
Support this Project
Please contact our Development department at 267.579.3580 to learn more.
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