Call Number:  MS-11

Name:  An Inventory of Papers related to Lieutenant Henry Ossian Flipper (1856-1940), held in the Valdosta State University Archives.

Dates:  March 21, 1856-January 1985                

Size:  1 box: 16 folders          

Biography/Organizational History:

Lieutenant Henry Ossian Flipper (March 21, 1856-April 26, 1940) was born in Thomasville, Georgia.  He attended Atlanta University where he was nominated to attend the United States Military Academy.  On June 14, 1877 he became the first black man to graduate from the academy.  From 1878 to 1881, he fought in the Indian wars of the Southwest, which included the Apache Chieftain Victoria.  For his excellent service he received various promotions including Acting Assistant Quartermaster, Post Quartermaster and Acting Commissary of Subsistence.

In 1882, he received a court martial from the Army under accusations that were later proven to be false.  Despite the termination of his military career, Lt. Flipper continued to work for the government over the next fifty years.  During this period he worked for the Justice Department, Court of Private Land Claims, consultant to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and served as the Assistant to the Secretary of Interior.  As the Assistant to the Secretary of Interior he was responsible for the planning and construction of the Alaskan railroad system.

As a civilian he was the first African-American to gain respect and recognition in the engineering profession.  He was appointed chief engineer and legal advisor to American oil and mining companies in Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. President Porfirio Diaz of Mexico commissioned him to write the history of mining in Mexico, which became a three volume text. In 1895 he became the editor of the Nogales Sunday Herald, becoming the first black editor of an all white newspaper.  Other honorable mentions include his membership in the Southwest Society and the Archeological Institute of America.  He also served as a physics instructor at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia.

December 13, 1976 ended a thorough review by the Army Board for Corrections in which Assistant Secretary of the Army Donald Brontzman announced the exoneration of Lt. Henry O. Flipper from his previous 1882 court martial and awarded him an honorable discharge.  For the next two years, four national ceremonies were held to commemorate and recognize him for his contributions to America and to publicly correct an improper judgment.   

Scope and Content:

The papers consist largely of reproduction material spanning from Lieutenant Henry Flipper’s nomination into the United States Military Academy to his false dismissal from the Army.  From there we find reproductions of letters, e-mails, and a request for a stamp application for the honoring of Lt. Flipper.  Also included are papers on his achievements, stamp design, photographs, and news paper articles all working to promote awareness of Lt. Flipper’s contributions to society and offering reasons as to why he deserved an honorary stamp.  The folders are arranged as follows; Biography, Personal Letters concerning Lt. Flipper, West Point Awards Convocation and Award List, Original Historic Marker Unveiling Invitation, and the stamp request application.

Subject Headings:

Letters on Lt. Flipper 

WestPoint and Lt. Flipper 

Historic Marker and Lt. Flipper

Lt. Flipper Honors

Lt. Flipper Stamp Request Application

Description for stamp request and Lt. Flipper

Letter of support for Lt. Flipper Postal Stamp

Lt. Flipper Achievement and ceremonies

Lt. Flipper and stamp patient papers

Publications about Lt. Flipper

Letters on Lt. Flipper Exoneration

Lt. Flipper and recommended stamp designs

Lt. Flipper and West Point nomination

Lt. Flipper Biography

Lt. Flipper and stamp publicity


The papers include the following parts:

Box 1

[Folder 1]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Biography

[Folder 2]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Personal letters concerning Lt. Flipper (June 1986-September 1986)

[Folder 3]  Lt. Flipper Papers---West Point Convocation/Annual Award List (May 27, 1986)

[Folder 4]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Original Historic Unveiling Invitation (April 10, 1989)

[Folder 5]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Family Honored Newspaper Article (April 29, 1989)

[Folder 6]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Application for Stamp Request (Feb. 1985)

[Folder 7]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Letters of support for stamp (1984-1986)

[Folder 8]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Letters of support for stamp (1984-1986)

[Folder 9]  Lt. Flipper Papers---Achievement & Ceremonies Program (June 1977)

[Folder 10] Lt. Flipper Papers---Patient Papers (Nov. 13, 1897 and Dec. 6, 1897)

[Folder 11] Lt. Flipper Papers---Publications and Records (May 9, 1977, Dec.1983)

[Folder 12] Lt. Flipper Papers---Notable Proclamation & Letters (June 1882-March 1977)

[Folder 13] Lt. Flipper Papers—--Publicity (Jan 1978-Feb 1978)

[Folder 14] Lt. Flipper Papers---Recommendations for stamp design (Feb. 22, 1985)

[Folder 15] Lt. Flipper Papers—--Letters Complimenting stamp approval efforts (Feb.151978-April 10, 1987)

[Folder 16] Lt. Flipper Papers—--Nomination into WestPoint E-mail (Jan. 21, 1999)

Processing Date: Processed by Keith Richardson 4/2006