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 onJuneteenth 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 September, 2016.FamilySearch.org shows 22 Freedmen collections. Here is a screenshot showing some of them.
Unfortunately, the job of indexing these records is far from over. Only the collections with numbers are completely or partially indexed. The blog post concludes with an invitation.
It only takes a little training for anyone with a computer and Internet access to join the project, which involves reading online the digital images of the records and entering names and other key information to make them searchable. Once the records are indexed and published online, finding an ancestor can be as easy as going to FamilySearch.org, entering a name and, with the touch of a button, discovering your long-hidden family member.