Finding a Piece of Civil War History at the National Archives

Finding a Piece of Civil War History at the National Archives
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    About four years ago or so, I acquired some vintage period objects concerning the
    African-American soldier, John Atkinson.
    I started researching and I think the first thing I did frankly was to go on Ancestry.com
    which is what most people who might be looking at this video do.
    And one of the things I learned there was I can learn just so much and the mothership
    was the National Archives.
    The primary things that are here for research are the compiled military service record.
    There were in the Civil War a dozen people named John Atkinson, one was black.
    We are really lucky in this case to have three vintage period objects directly relating to John.
    First of all, we have a tintype of John taken in the studio with his horn.
    We also have two army period documents from John.
    They're both discharge papers. They're important documents.
    This is his official discharge from the Civil War.
    The process of tintypes really got rolling about the late 1850s.
    They were perfect for the Civil War which began in '61.
    Why?
    They're hard.
    This one in fact has part of the label left from the photographer who took the image
    on the back of the tintype.
    The soldiers were having tintypes made, putting in letters and sending it home to their families.
    Unbelievable that you can walk in a building in the heart of Washington and see these
    vintage papers and then you take it out and it's the real thing.
    It isn't a scan, it's not some reproduction.
    And you open up the service record and there you're holding documents that John signed.
    This was a thrill!
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