After years and years of African slave accounts going poof into thin air, a website has decided to reveal this part of history to the world finally. The Freedmen’s Bureau is a government agency from 1865 that was established to help slaves that were freed transition to citizenship. They are the company responsible for the release about to happen of over a million handwritten records.
All the records will have to be registered through Discover Freedmen, the website that details the accounts. Over 4 million names will be published for access to anyone, which is the same number of slaves freed with the Emancipation Proclamation.
By the end of 2016, all records are supposed to hit the site, conveniently because the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is debuting. Today only 9 percent of the records are available.
As of today, only 9 percent of the records are indexed. However, for those who already have their ancestors’ first and last names, a portal is available to search Family Search’s database for more information and traces back to said ancestor’s bloodline.
The California African American Museum, Smithsonian and Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society are among the diversified organizations backing the project. Hollis Gentry, a Smithsonian genealogy specialist, spoke at the project’s L.A. announcement on Friday (June 19) to discuss its cruciality.
“The records serve as a bridge to slavery and freedom,” Gentry said. “You can look at some of the original documents that were created at the time when these people were living. They are the earliest records detailing people who were formerly enslaved. We get a sense of their voice, their dreams. I predict we’ll see millions of living people find living relatives they never knew existed. That will be a tremendous blessing and a wonderful, healing experience.”