Gift of Freedmen’s records helps African Americans connect to their roots

By Keri Wilcox  |  Posted Apr 1st, 2017 @ 12:00pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Freedmen’s Bureau Project has changed the very fabric of genealogy for African Americans. Over a single year, 25,550 volunteers indexed the names of nearly 1.8 million men, women and children from the early days of freedom, often the first time any member of their family had been included in a public document. Now searchable online, those names give many African American families the ability to connect to their Civil War-era ancestors for the first time.

“Connecting Roots” explains the history behind this project, and the personal stories about why this is so meaningful for so many families trying to connect with their heritage.

The project is a partnership between FamilySearch International, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and many other interested organizations. Volunteers began indexing names on Juneteenth (June 19) 2015 on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation, and completed the work on June 20, 2016.

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