"On 'Freedom’s Eve,' or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. Only through the Thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States.
But not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as 'Juneteenth,' by the newly freed people in Texas."
Beginning in 2021 and accompanying the establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday, Ohio University has hosted a Juneteenth celebration for the campus and local community. In honor of the celebration, Ohio University Libraries has pledged to make an annual major acquisition that celebrates African American history and the spirit of Juneteenth.
Members of the campus Juneteenth celebration planning committee are offered a slate of potential acquisitions prepared by the Libraries that range from electronic resources to artists' books and rare books, and are asked vote on their top choice. Items listed as "primary" are the top choice of the committee. Please note that images for new acquisitions may not yet be available, but will be added.
Every year, this exhibit will showcase current and past acquisitions made in honor of Juneteenth. While some electronic materials may only be available to patrons with active Ohio University logins, those interested in seeing the rare books and special collections materials are encouraged to contact the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections.
Special thanks to the Division of Diversity and Inclusion and to the Juneteenth Celebration Planning Committee.