21 December 2015

Milestones Reached in Freedmen's Bureau Records Indexing Project

News from FamilySearch ...

FamilySearch International, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) are pleased to announce that exciting milestones have been reached with the historic Freedmen's Bureau Project (see DiscoverFreedmen.org) since its launch on Juneteenth of this year. The 10,000th online indexing volunteer has contributed to the project, and volunteers have made more than 15 percent of the records searchable online, bringing the total number of records indexed to more than 440,865. The goal of this ambitious project is to make more than one million Civil War era historical records—records of about four million freed men, women, and children and refugees—discoverable at the click of a button online.

The Freedmen’s Bureau, officially known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, served all who needed intervention after the war. In the name of the bureau, the “freedmen” referred to were black, the “refugees” were white, and the “abandoned lands” were lands once owned by landowners who were eventually re-settled. From 1865 to 1872, the bureau opened schools, managed hospitals, rationed food and clothing, and solemnized marriages. In the process, it gathered information about marriages and families, military service, banking, schools, hospitals, and property records on potentially four million African Americans. 

Since the project’s launch in June of this year, 10,223 volunteers have contributed online from across the nation. Many more volunteers are needed. The goal is to have the records fully indexed and freely available online in time for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in November 2016...

You can read the full press release here.

Have you helped with this project? What has been the best part of the experience? 

Have you found an ancestor listed?

Editor’s Note: Previous Upfront with NGS blog post on related topic.

Editor’s Note: These records have held a particular fascination for your Upfront with NGS editor for years and as such I have given talks, written articles, and taped a webinar on this topic.  If you want to learn more, consider checking out these resources by the editor ...
+ The Freedmen’s Bureau Records (Family Chronicle (now Discovering Your Family History)), March/April 2012
+ NCGS Webinar – Freedmen’s Bureau Records (free to webinars, available for purchase for non-members) & Introduction to the Freedmen’s Bureau Records (NCGS Journal Volume 37, No 1)

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