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.
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.
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.
- Freedmen Court Records—on track to be published in May 2016.
- Registers and Applications of Rations Issued—on track to be published in May 2016.
- Labor Contracts, Indentures and Apprenticeship Records—anticipated publication in summer 2016.
- Records of Persons and Articles Hired—anticipated publication in summer 2016.
- 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.
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.
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