Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New DAR Publication Highlights the Many Contributions of African Americans and American Indians in the Revolutionary War

HH Note: Kudos to the DAR for their efforts in documenting early American Patriots.

An unprecedented new publication highlighting the contributions of African Americans and American Indians in America’s War for Independence is now available from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The second edition of Forgotten Patriots – African American and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War: A Guide to Service, Sources, and Studies, published in May 2008 by the DAR identifies over 6,600 names of African Americans and American Indians who contributed to American Independence and is a nearly five-fold expansion in pages over the 2001 edition. The 9” x 12” hardbound book with 872 pages contains details of the documented service of the listed Patriots, historical commentary on happenings of the time, an assortment of illustrations, and an extensive bibliography of research sources related to the topic.

As the title of the DAR publication suggests, the many contributions of African Americans and American Indians in the Revolutionary War have frequently been overlooked and have rarely been adequately recognized. Accordingly, Forgotten Patriots is a unique publication that offers an enormous amount of research and original sources, covers all regions during the years roughly from 1775 to 1783 and is distinctive in the fact that this variety of information is all compiled into one resource book. No other similar guide exists for the history of the participation of African Americans and American Indians in the Revolutionary War, which also includes an extensive bibliography referencing thousands of citations that can provide a roadmap for scholars, researchers and students seeking to discover even more information on the topic.

The book organizes its findings into chapters that include historical commentary, sources cited, names of identified Patriots and a bibliography directly related to each state and region of the country. Seven appendices are included to elaborate on topics not often addressed in other publications such as the challenges of documenting the color of participants in the American Revolution, using individual’s names as clues to finding Forgotten Patriots, the often discussed but never authoritatively verified number of minority participants in the Revolution, and information on how to contact the DAR with questions or to offer additional information and findings related to the topic.

While the majority of the content is reporting of fact as opposed to narrative, a number of interesting personal stories emerge as well. These stories provide insight into the individual aspirations, struggles and achievements of many other African American and American Indian Patriots for whom such documentation has been lost to time.

DAR Library Director, Eric G. Grundset, Editor and Project Manager of Forgotten Patriots, describes in the book’s introduction the “rewarding, informative, and captivating” work on the project and intended goals for the publication. “Since its founding in 1890, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution has collected and published information about the American Revolution. Included in this tradition have been articles, grave markings, or placement of historical plaques that note the involvement of African Americans and American Indians in the struggle.” He goes on to explain that the hope is that this book will have the additional benefit of also encouraging the female descendents of these patriots to join the important volunteer and educational work of the DAR.

The introduction also emphasizes that the expanded second edition of Forgotten Patriots is “an exciting step forward in helping to document a segment of the effort that resulted in the creation of the United States of America,” but the work does not end with this publication. “Undoubtedly, there are many other minority patriots who remain undiscovered or for whom documentation does not yet exist.” It is hoped that the information contained in the Forgotten Patriots book will stimulate further research by many people. A special collection at the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., has been started that encompasses much of the documentation related to the subject of minority service in the American Revolution and is available to the public for research. “The DAR [also] welcomes additional information concerning any of the individuals identified in this publication or on others that have not been included,” Grundset writes.

“The subject of this book is essential to the work of the DAR to document the history of the role of all individuals in the Revolutionary War and to preserve it for future generations,” explains Grundset. “While the research to identify and document forgotten patriots will continue as part of the daily activities of the DAR, it is hoped that this work will spur others to undertake an examination of their ancestry and the rich heritage that has come to make up our great nation.”

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