A photograph of an African American Civil War veteran is the first of its kind to be included in the collection of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Nathan Hughes was a farmer and Union soldier, and like Abraham Lincoln he was born in Kentucky and moved to Illinois.
Kathryn Harris is with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. She says the donated photo shows Hughes and his second wife. She says it’s likely they were wealthy since they were able to afford having a photograph taken and their clothes suggest a certain level of affluence. Harris says its important that a photo of an identifiable African American will be added to the collection.
HARRIS: “A lot of people are not aware of the number of African Americans who served in the Union Army and the Union Navy and that there were over 1,500 from just Illinois who served in various regiments.”
Hughes was a member of the only African American Union regiment created in Illinois. The photograph and other materials, including his obituary, will soon be on display.