Ethnic Heritage Museum unveils ‘Camp Grant: The Black Soldier’ Sept. 12

Soliders from Camp Grant in Rockford.

From press release

World War I was considered “the war to end all wars.” The soldiers at Camp Grant in Rockford played an important role in that war. Camp Grant also made significant contributions to African-American life, both here and nationally. At 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12, the African-American Gallery of the Ethnic Heritage Museum will unveil a new exhibit, “Camp Grant: The Black Soldier,” which will explore some of those contributions.

This exhibit spotlights the careers of several black soldiers including Col. Charles Young, born of slaves to become the nation’s first black colonel, and local hero Van Horton, of the Jefferson-Horton Post. The exhibit showcases the nation’s first Red Cross African-American nurses who served at Camp Grant during the influenza epidemic. See how Booker Washington Community Center was started.

“Camp Grant: The Black Soldier” displays authentic WWI uniforms, photos, documents and other memorabilia actually used at Camp Grant during the war.

Nurses from Camp Grant in Rockford.

Items on loan for this exhibit are courtesy of Midway Village & Museum Center and part of the Camp Grant collection of Gregory S. Jacobs of Mundelein, Ill. Ethnic Heritage Museum is grateful to Jean Lythgoe of the Rockford Public Library; Margie Mullins, Winnebago County Clerk; the staff at Veterans’ Memorial Hall; and the staff at President Abraham Lincoln Library in Springfield, Ill., for their assistance with this exhibit.

Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., is unique in its blend of ethnic groups: African-American, Polish, Italian, Lithuanian, Irish and Hispanic. A visit to each gallery will enlighten visitors of the values and traditions of each of these groups.

The “Camp Grant: the Black Soldier” exhibit will be on display every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. until Nov. 28. Admission is free to members, and “free-will” donations for non-members are appreciated.

“Camp Grant: The Black Soldier” is an excellent exhibit for students of every age. Group tours can be arranged by contacting the museum at (815) 962-7402 or e-mailing The museum is handicap accessible.

For more information, visit the museum’s website at, or e-mail David Ruffin at or the museum at

From the Sept. 8-14, 2010 issue

Soldiers at Camp Grant in Rockford, Ill. All photos for this story courtesy of David Ruffin, Ethnic Heritage Museum

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