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Volunteers Help Uncover History of Black Civil War Troops

Over the past four years, students have endeavored to uncover the history of African American soldiers by helping to transcribe a Civil War-era handwritten text. Six leather-bound journals hold the story to the 1st Regiment United States Colored Troops Heavy Artillery that was formed in Knoxville in 1864.

So far, student volunteers have transcribed more than 2,100 pages of handwritten Civil War documents. The transcriptions will be digitized and made available so families can learn more about relatives who served in the regiment.

The project is made possible with funding provided by a Knoxville Community Action grant. The East Tennessee Civil War Alliance photographed the ledger pages and hosts transcribing sessions at UT’s McClung Museum of Natural Science and History. McClung Civil War Curator Joan Markel co-leads the transcribing effort. The transcribing project is expected to conclude in 2018 with the digital archive to follow at a later date.