1.5 Million Slavery Era Documents to be Digitized, Helping African Americans to Learn About Their Lost Ancestors

The Freedmen’s Bureau Project — a new initiative spearheaded by the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — will make available online 1.5 million historical documents, finally allowing descendants of former African-American slaves to learn more about their family roots.

Genealogists, researchers, archivists, authors, bloggers, educators, and faith leaders discuss the Freedmen’s Bureau and the need for volunteers to make the records of nearly 4 million emancipated African Americans freely searchable online. http://www.discoverfreedmen.org

btw- As usual, the best coverage of this is by a non-US media source.
Pretty embarrassing for us Americans, I’d say.


About Stan Flouride

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2 Responses to 1.5 Million Slavery Era Documents to be Digitized, Helping African Americans to Learn About Their Lost Ancestors

  1. Dec says:

    Digitizing slave-era documents right now is not a good idea. I am reacting to the 1.5 million records collected by the Freedmen’s Bureau about slave-era stories that our being digitized by The Smithsonian, The National Archives; The Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, The California African American Museum and FamilySearch. Whether, we like it or not, the operation to digitize slave-era records of this magnitude is likely the beginning of a trend of digitizing slave-era information globally. There is something the world should know and prepare for if this must happen. Digitization does help to keep information secure but it also does something else. It proliferates it. Nothing is wrong with this, unless where the information is false. As a by stander watching the process unfold it probably would be more accurate to title this article: why proliferate inaccurate data? Truth deserves to be sought for first and then digitized. Some critical details on the slave trade era may have been rewritten for the convenience of some powerful entity or to protect a certain class of people. I don’t know but it would be needful to document truth 1st before digitization. I am pretty sure, you are already wondering about what I am talking about. Please read my article on the African Caribbean Trade website at https://www.africaribtraders.com/blog/slave/


    • There is, as you say, undoubtedly a deafening silence in Africa about the involvement of Africans in the slave trade. But that involvement is well known to historians and fairly well documented in numerous places.
      In fact, by tracing slaves’ history back to a specific time and place in West Africa is possible to gain insight into the shifting geopolitical conflicts in the region.
      But these records are from the time of the US Civil War and Reconstruction, almost 60 years after direct trade with Africa had been outlawed.
      It did continue in Cuba and Brazil until the 1860s but by the beginning of the 19th century the population of slaves in the US was already self-sustaining, growing from about 1 million to 4 million.
      Emancipation freed nearly 4 million slaves. The Freedmen’s Bureau was established to help transition them from slavery to citizenship, providing food, housing, education, and medical care. And for the first time in U.S. history, the names of those individuals were systematically recorded and preserved for future generations.
      I wish you the best of luck with your efforts but I don’t see how the involvement of Africans in the slave trade is in any way relevant to the Freedmans Bureau Project.


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