From our Research Files: Spotlight on Lucy Higgs Nichols
Not often do we get to hear the history of people who have escaped slavery in their own words.So, we feel fortunate to be able to share just such a primary source with the readers of Primary Source!Click here
to read the deposition of Lucy Higgs Nichols.
Nichols (1838-1915) escaped slavery in Tennessee in 1862 and joined the 23rd Regiment of Indiana Volunteers
camped nearby.She worked among the soldiers as a nurse through major battles of the Civil War and mustered out with themin Louisville in She returned with the veterans of the 23rd Regiment to New Albany, Indiana.
When Congress passed the 1892 Act for Civil War Nurses
, Nichols applied for a pension twice but was denied. When she petitioned Congress in 1895, fifty-five veterans of the 23rd added their signatures as well.She was finally awarded her pension in She was made an honorary member of the New AlbanyG.A.R.
Learn more about Lucy and see a powerful photograph of her with the veterans of the 23rd Regiment through a new exhibit at the Carnegie Center for Art and History
in New Albany.
April plays host to many commemorations, though Earth Month is the most recognized. Here are some historically-inspired things to do this April:
- Get in the spirit of National Card and Letter Writing Month and make sure future historians have something to write about you. Get a little inspiration from the Indiana State Library's envelope exhibit. Start small with a thank you card, or if you have a lot to say, feed your desire to be earth-friendly and daring and try cross-writing!
- Check out the music of Hoosier jazz composer and educator David Baker for Jazz Appreciation Month. Born in Indianapolis in 1931, Baker made a name for himself on the same scene as famous Hoosier trombonist J.J. Johnson. Baker is currently the chair of the Department of Jazz Studies at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Learn more at Baker’s own website or shop the IHB Book Shop for Baker’s biography by Monika Herzig.
- Celebrate National Poetry Month with a daily verse. Check out Indiana Humanities' Think.Read.Talk blog for locally-produced lines or dive into Poets.org's archives of images and poems.
- Thank the librarians who assist you in your research this week for National Library Week. Friday is Teen Literature Day, so it's the perfect time to get even more involved by joining the Hunger Games craze, if you haven't already. (Be sure to block off the weekend to devote to reading IU graduate Suzanne Collins' trilogy non-stop--it really is hard to put down.)
- Spend some time experiencing the beauty of nature at one of Indiana's historic State Parks with a hiking, biking, or camping trip or book a stay at a State Park Inn, where you can watch the great outdoors from a cozy air-conditioned room.
After we reported on the Isaac Blackford State Historical Marker dedication ceremony, a citizen expressed concern.
Q: Isaac Blackford was involved in the colonization movement, which advocated the removal of blacks from the U.S. Why should we commemorate such a person?
A: Isaac Blackford’s views about the status of blacks in the United States were complex. Blackford’s tenure on the Indiana Supreme Court (1817-1852) included two important decisions affirming the Indiana Constitution’s prohibition against slavery and indentured servitude (Polly v. Lasselle, 1820 and Clark v. Johnston, 1821) in Indiana. Significant historical figures including Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Abraham Lincoln, advocated for the removal of free blacks from the U.S.
In fact, over time, colonization of free African Americans in Africa, Canada, Haiti, and Central and South America was supported by blacks and whites and opposed by both blacks and whites. Some African Americans believed that they would never achieve equality in the U.S. and would have fuller lives by emigrating to Africa or elsewhere; some white Americans saw colonization as a way to rid the country of black Americans. Other groups of both blacks and whites believed African Americans should remain in the U.S. and fight against slavery and for equal rights.
Most African Americans in Indiana opposed African colonization. The Indiana Sentinel, March 1, 1842, reported the resolutions of a meeting of African Americans: “…we believe no well informed colonizationist is a devoted friend to the moral elevation of the people of color.” See Indiana Emigrants to Liberia for more on the topic of colonization in Indiana, and get a broader view of the complexities of the colonization movement and African American history at PBS.