Frederick DouglassFebruary 12, 2013 | David Reinfeld, Vice President, Development, Chester County Historical Society

Black History Month is an important time at the Chester County Historical Society. Many aspects of its exhibits and programs highlight the history of the local African American community, including the newest exhibit at CCHS, On the Edge of Battle: Chester County and the Civil War. The exhibit examines life in Chester County during the bloodiest war in our nation’s history. The exhibit focuses on the hopes, struggles, victories and losses of local men and women living in Chester County at the time of the Civil War.

When you enter the Chester County Historical Society to visit On the Edge of Battle, you will receive a “character card” that tells the first part of one of twenty-five individuals’ stories. These cards include Richard Adams, a member of the Third U.S. Colored Troops; Henrietta Cummings, who was born into a free black family and was proposed to by her love before he enlisted; and Joseph Jones, a member of the first black regiment of the war, the 54th Massachusetts. Visitors to the exhibit gallery can search for their ancestors in a database of over 6,000 Chester Countians who served in the war. Up until the opening of On the Edge of Battle, only 112 records about Chester County African American soldiers in the Civil War were compiled. Now, through research by Archivist Cliff Parker and Photo Archivist Pam Powell, that database includes 925 African Americans.

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