A Significant Opportunity to Give Thanks and Show Love

November 23, 2015  - by 

Earlier this year, a series of very special indexing projects were launched containing the records of The Freedmen’s Bureau, a government office established to supervise relief and educational opportunities for freed slaves (see DiscoverFreedmen.org). At the time they were launched, FamilySearch recommended giving those with family ties to the Freedmen’s Bureau collection the honor of having the first opportunity to index these precious records.  

Since that time more than 10,000 new volunteers have begun indexing the records with a goal to index the million Freedmen’s Bureau images in time for them to be published in June 2016. Despite the valiant efforts of these dedicated, mostly beginner indexers, the hand-written, mostly paragraph-style nature of the records has slowed the project considerably. Today the project is still just over 20% complete, which is far off the pace needed to meet its stated goals.

An Opportunity to Stand Shoulder to Shoulder

Anyone who has researched their ancestors knows the pain of hitting the proverbial “brick wall.” African Americans run into brick walls at nearly every turn because of a dearth of records maintained during the slavery period. The Freedmen’s Bureau collection is one shining exception that has the power to connect individuals in our day with their families that were separated by slavery. If there was ever an example of how indexing matters to others, this is it!

Some important dates are approaching that make it important right now to stand shoulder to shoulder with these new volunteers and help bolster their amazing effort. February is celebrated as Black History Month, and it also coincides with the goal to have the indexing and arbitration portion nearly complete so the collection can be published on FamilySearch.org by Juneteenth—an annual celebration, held June 19th, that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

What a wonderful expression of gratitude and love it would be if many experienced volunteers would take time from their normal indexing activities to index and arbitrate batches from the Freedmen’s Bureau project! With that kind of help, the project completion percentage will skyrocket, and these highly anticipated milestones and celebrations will proceed as anticipated. More importantly, it will send a powerful message about our desire as an indexing community to help everyone experience the joy of discovering their ancestors.

Show your gratitude and love for your fellow men and women by looking for indexing projects that begin with “US—Freedmen’s Bureau.” For more information about the Freedmen’s Bureau project, visit http://www.discoverfreedmen.org/.

Please note: The Freedmen’s Bureau project does not diminish the ongoing, critical need for records in non-English languages. If you have begun using your language skills to help in this area, please be thoughtful as you consider how you can best contribute at this time.

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  1. you are stingy with your phone numbers. I can not take care of the help I need over the internet. I need a human to help me. ii will keeplooki ng untili find a phone number

    1. I am averaging 1000 names per week since the 1st of Dec. Labor contracts go very quicklyl, and the instructions are very clear. I notice they now have an “attention” added to index ALL names that are not officials. That helps clear up that puzzle.

  2. I am from Egyptian origin. I have nothing connected to the Freedmen of the USA. I have no records to help me with my family history research. This is why I find joy in helping those who are searching for their ancestors. My commitment in participation in this project gives me personal satisfaction in being of help to accomplish the goals of this project.

    1. Zarif, You have the right attitude and because you’re helping others with their ancestors, the Lord will help you find yours in ways you’d never known before! Although (so far) I do not have any family from Egypt, like you do, I have found family that I’ve been searching for. Keep helping others and I promise you He will help you find yours!

  3. have been arbitrating and find it very confusing. especially when indexer says duplicate image. how do i know if it is. how many times do they index the owners name and keep arbitrating it.

    1. Dwayne, at the bottom of the article and before the comments there is a blue button that says “Print Article”. That will allow you to print it.

  4. Although my ancestry includes no African Americans, I feel strongly the urge to get these records indexed. !t is my most humble prayer that we will succeed in reachin the goal by Juneteenth 2016.

  5. I am pleased to have the opportunity to join this project and have already started indexing records from the Freemans Bureau Collections. My ancestors Johns, Mordecai’s, Avery’s and more are listed in those records.
    Some records are difficult to read but after sometime you get the writing down.

  6. I am a beginner very much so. All the downloads are for intermediate or advanced. Some beginners are listed, but in another language. How do I start with just beginner downloads in English so I can get more practice before jumping into the next level?

      1. Greetings,
        to answer your question, when you log in at the very top of the page you will see Tools click on it and it will take you preferences. Click on it and you will see
        1. Email Preferences
        2. Project Difficulty Level (click on this link and follow the instructions. You will see levels for beginners, Intermediates and Advance.

    1. I begin by just signing in and indexing US records labeled beginner. Not Freedman’s Records but they helped to orient me. Once I felt comfortable then I focused on the Freedmen’s records

  7. Thank you all for helping with this project. I have been presenting this project in the Houston and Oklahoma City areas and the work is contagious. Thanks again for your help.