New Freedmen’s Bureau Records Made Searchable through Ongoing Project

April 15, 2016  - by 

Another milestone has been reached in efforts to complete the Freedmen’s Bureau Project. We’d like to provide an update on the progress of the project and let you know where we are in the publication of indexed content. In addition, we’d like your help in focusing on three of our more challenging record sets to get them closer to completion.

Freedmen's Bureau Project 70% complete

Thanks to the help of 17,640 volunteers, the Freedmen’s Bureau Project has achieved unprecedented success. To date, the names of 1,469,574 freed slaves and others have been unearthed through the tireless support of indexers around the world. We have cause to celebrate that this project is 70 percent complete. And with your continued support, we will make our goal of being 100 percent complete by Juneteenth (June 19)!

Thirteen records sets make up the content we are indexing to make searchable on FamilySearch.org and in a database that will be given to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). We are excited to be able to provide this database as an artifact for the new museum when it opens on September 24, 2016, in Washington, DC.

This content includes marriage records, labor contracts, education records, and more. Many people have asked, “What does it mean when we say we are 70 percent complete?” It means that 70 percent of the batches of images (groups of two to five documents) contained in the 13 record sets have been indexed and arbitrated and will be published on FamilySearch.org in the coming months.

What’s exciting is that records from two of the 13 record sets have already been published.

Screenshot of published freedmen's projects

  1. Hospital and Medical Records (137,124 records)
  2. Marriages (42,119 records)

These records contain new content about individuals who may have never before been documented in history! Click the links above to search these collections by name, and see for yourself. Although hospital and marriage records are small collections in terms of the number of names included in the documents, these records—marriage records in particular—are valuable for reconstructing families that were once torn apart by slavery. This is just the tip of the iceberg!

Four other record sets have been indexed and arbitrated and are awaiting publication to become searchable online.

  1. Freedmen Court Records—on track to be published in May 2016.
  2. Registers and Applications of Rations Issued—on track to be published in May 2016.
  3. Labor Contracts, Indentures and Apprenticeship Records—anticipated publication in summer 2016.
  4. Records of Persons and Articles Hired—anticipated publication in summer 2016.
  5. Register of Claims, Pensions, and Bounty Claims, [Part C]—anticipated publication in summer 2016.

With these five record sets, a total of 7 of the 13 record sets have been indexed by our all-volunteer workforce and are already published or are or about to be published. Once published and searchable, these records will open long-awaited floodgates for African American genealogy.

Six record sets remain in various stages of indexing and arbitration and are active in the FamilySearch indexing program. Hopefully, the image below is familiar to you because you have indexed batches.

Remaining freedmen's indexing projects

WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP! If the three highlighted record sets (education records, land and property records, and records of complaints) are not worked on right now, they will keep us from reaching our goal of completing this project by Juneteenth. We’ve come so far and don’t want anything to hold us back from making ALL the records from this poignant time in history searchable and part of our gift to NMAAHC.

As we hit the home stretch, we invite you to focus on these three projects for the next few weeks. These projects may be more difficult than what you’ve encountered before. But by now you are comfortable enough with the project and various record types that if you were to spend one hour this week and complete one or two batches, you’d help us make significant progress to our goal (and you can always do more than one or two batches if you’d like). By going through the process outlined on DiscoverFreedmen.org, you can also invite others to get started on any of the record sets, especially if they haven’t indexed before.

Thank you for your continued support. We are eager to celebrate the completion of the indexing portion of this project by Juneteenth to allow us to deliver all published records online and to the Smithsonian by September 24.

You may also like:

African Americans Find Ancestors in Freedmen’s Bureau Records

A Significant Opportunity to Give Thanks and Show Love

Milestones Reached in Freedmen’s Bureau Project

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  1. 04/21/16
    When ask to do this project. I took the challenge found it difficult to understand the writing, and to separate the officers and staff from the Freemen. I still have some trouble there. But it is coming with lots of help. from the Freemen. I try to do a batch in each section. I get frustrated, tired sometimes, but if I can help I will. Its nice to see how much has been accomplished. “And I helped” It feels good to do something for others

    1. When I started to intext I was focus myself these people need my help to be with there families, I’m not thinking they are any different from anyone else, knowing we all the children of God. He loves each one of us.

  2. I am a descendant of Edmund Ochantubby Pickens, Chickasaw Chief. I have been researching the Pickens Family since 2000. The genealogy is becoming more confusing, the more I research. At first I thought Edmund had four slave children, is that fact or not? Your site corroborates that info. But other websites said it is not true. Second what were his slave children’s names? I’ve read they were Jack Harris Pickens, Julia Harris Pickens, Melvinia Pickens, Betsy Pickens, Lenna Pickens and Henry Pickens. Third when were they born? Jack is listed born 1841, Julia listed born 1863, Melvinia is listed born 1824 and on some sites as 1844, Lenna is unknown and Henry is listed as born in 1845.

    The genealogy places me as the sixth generation. If you clear up these questions for me, much appreciation.
    Thank you,
    Alcina Lofties

  3. This is so very, very exciting. Coming in on the home stretch!!
    I have done batches from each type of the 13 projects, and have learned so much about civil war history and lives and livelihood. I have a special story to submit at some point that I found while doing a record of a plantation, about a reunited father and young boy after the war. I will send it to Stephen Anderson of Family Search. So touching. It is very important that these people be remembered. I have also catalogued a cemetery in Tenn a few years ago. The headstones were 20 feet from a lake and were very overgrown with kudzoo and were barely sticking out of the ground anymore, approx 80 graves. Never forget.
    D Conley, Lindon, Utah, USA

  4. WHAT AN HONOR IT IS FOR ME TO WORK ON THE FREEDMENS SECTION EVEN THOUGH I AM WHITE OR ANGLO. I HAVE DONE HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS AND MORE FREEDMEN RECORDS. DOING THESE RECORDS HAVE OPENED UP A WHOLE NEW FEELING I HAVE TOWARDS THE END EFFECTS OF THE CIVIL WAR. FOR EVEN THO THEY ARE CALLED FREEDMEN THEY WERE STILL SLAVES TO THE PLANTATION OWNERS. THEY HAD NO HOMES NO WAY TO MAKE A LIVING. THEIR CHILDREN WERE STILL IN BONDAGE. JUST YESTERDAY I DID ON ‘COMPLAINTS’ SEVERAL SECTIONS WHERE MOTHERS WANTED THEIR CHILDREN RETURNED TO THEM! SO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO REALY KNOW THE ‘SLAVE’ ISSUE AND TO ADMIRE THEM SO MUCH IN BEING TRUE SURVIVORS……
    SALLIE L NELSON TEXAS VIA INDIANA

  5. I would love to do the project but I cant seem to figure it out. If I had some one that could guide me through some I would be so grateful. That project is the only one I have not done yet. thank you and my the lord be with you

  6. Regarding the FBP, I know that we were working to have everything done by June 19. I checked online today at discoverfreedmen.org and I see that the project is indeed 100% complete! Bravo! But when I went into the program just to see if any Freedmen’s Bureau items were there, there was a category called “Records of Freedmen 1865-1872.” It’s a new category that wasn’t there before. I downloaded 1 batch to check it out. It was a document titled “Census Returns of Colored Population of Montgomery County, State of Virginia.”

    Are we to just keep going with indexing? Or should we await some kind of announcement from FamilySearch? I’m a Group Administrator, and I’d like to be able to give my AAHGS-PGCM Group the latest information. Thanks!

    1. please contact customer service or look in the get help area. this blog post is 2 months old. I happen to be following from my post from two months ago.

    2. Jeanette: We completed the indexing for the Freedmen’s Bureau Project which were records specifically to provide to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in time for their grand opening. It will take a few months to publish the indices thus making the names of the individuals discovered through indexing searchable online and available in a database accessible at NMAAHC.

      At the request of other groups interested in continuing indexing records that focus on African Americans, we added another Freedmen’s Bureau record set to the FamilySearch Indexing program. These are separate records and will not be a part of what we give to NMAAHC by their grand opening. Feel free to continue to index these if you like. Eventually, they will be added to the database of searchable records available on FamilySearch and at NMAAHC but there is not an exact due date with this new content.

  7. When and where will the indexed information actually be available to the general public? The http://www.discoverfreedmen.org/ site only gives an error message “your session has timed out” when you attempt a search from the interface there. The full indexing was completed in June, it’s now August.

    1. Once indexing is completed, it still has to go through arbitration and other steps prior to publication. The goal is to have all of the Freedmen’s records officially published by the dedication of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

      1. Thank you for that information. Available where? discoverfreedmen? familysearch? the NMAAHC website? freedmensbureau.com? All of the above? Somewhere else? Can the discoverfreedmen page (and other blog posts) be updated to reflect this information so that those of us anxious to access the information don’t have to keep asking? Thanks!

        1. I AM WORKING REAL HARD ON ARBITRATING THE LAST FREEDMAN WORK. I LOVE DOING IT AND HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH. THANK YOU. WHEN IS THIS HOLIDAY YOU SAID? I HAVE DONE HUNDREDS OF FREEDMAN NAMES. I JUST READ IN A JUNE COMMENT FROM THOM THAT THE FREEDMEN WORK HAS BEEN COMLETED. IF SO WHY AM I STILL ARBITRATING ONE SECTION OF THEM?

        2. Charity,

          Everything that has been published since we completed indexing is on FamilySearch.org. Go to https://familysearch.org/search/collection/list and type in “freedmen” to filter the list of collections to Freedmen’s Bureau Records.

          We are still working to resolve the error that occurs on DiscoverFreedmen.org. The information on that page is pulling from the collections on FamilySearch.org. I don’t have an estimate as to when it will be resolved. I’m working with our engineering team to post a notification of the issue on the page.

          As for the other websites you listed, they do not have the content. We will provide the records to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture prior to the opening. We are not sure exactly when they will make the records available on their website. Freedmensbureau.com is not affiliated with the Project and as far as I know, will not link to the records.

          You can always search on FamilySearch.org. As more indexed collections are published, we’ll be posting information about it on our blog and links to that information through our social media pages. You can “Like” The Freedmen’s Bureau Project on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverFreedmen/. We provide more regular updates on that page.

          1. Thanks Thom! I taught a session about these records at the South Carolina Genealogical Society Summer Workshop in July based on indexing my library has done for our local counties and folks from elsewhere in the state were asking about this. I do understand the need for arbitration (thanks for doing that extra step to help the indexing be as accurate as possible) but had not seen any timelines for when the information would be available for searching. Thanks again for the response.

    2. Charity,

      Thank you for your interest in this record set. Several collections from this set have recently been published on FamilySearch.org since we completed the indexing on June 20. Two new collections were published the last two days, records of rations and records of claims. You can search these records directly on FamilySearch.org.

      We became aware of a technical issue with the search function on DiscoverFreedmen.org a few weeks ago. Our engineering team is actively working on a solution to enable you to search the published records on DiscoverFreedmen.org on all browsers. I can’t remember which one for sure but I think you can search using the Firefox browser without any issues. We apologize for the technical glitch.

      #HappyHunting 🙂