HIST 7370: The Harlem Hell fighters & After the War

There is NO war, fight for freedom, or any other struggle in the U.S. that hasn’t been fought by Black Americans. There is no freedom without their sacrifice.

Para-phrased quote from a member of the 54th Volunteer Regiment speaking at the inaugural reading of Frederick Douglass’s “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” speech in Boston, July 4th, 2022

Black Americans have been a part of every “fight for freedom” in American history.

Who are these veterans?

What were their lives like after?

Together and Up

The goal of this project is to explore how the medium of digital history can bring Black veterans and veterans of color together, the public together with their stories, and can uplift their experiences, as well as empower users of this project. Using technology to uplift these stories and present them as much as possible through veterans’ voices is a central goal and motivation.

Audio and audio-visual interviews and oral histories make this possible. Digitized and digital recordings (whether already available or newly created) immediately interject veteran’s voices into history while also being very engaging for the public.


But such a small slice of veterans have their stories in the archives, few of those are from the perspectives of Black and veterans of color, and fewer still have first person accounts or audio-visual interviews that can be, or have been, digitized.

And what about veterans who served in the many conflicts and wars the predated recording technology?

Data can fill in some of these gaps, and are important to more fully positioning veterans’ experiences within larger historical contexts.

For example, data about injury and casualty rates of military personnel can contextualize what surviving veterans endured and position them within the bigger scope of warfare.

This data can be visualized to make it more impactful, more accessible, and potential reveal aspects of this history buried in the data.

Tableau Visualization Example

U.S. Military Injuries and Casualties

LOC Data Report: U.S. Military Injuries a

U.S. Military Injuries and Casualties

But much of the available datasets omit racial, ethnicity, and gender data, especially for more sensitive topics such as:

  • Agent Orange exposure and registry
  • Injuries and causalities
  • Military Occupation Specialties (MOS)
  • VA access

Accessing this information requires a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.

Finding other paths

Harlem Hell Fighters, the Men of Bronze, and World War I heroes who served during Jim Crow in a heavily segregated U.S. military apparatus.

Horace Pippin

Artist, Harlem Hell Fighter, Wounded Combat Veteran, American Hero