In order to know where you are going, you must know where you came from. However, for African Americans this statement isn’t as easy to digest as it sounds. African Americans are the only race whose history is near impossible to trace. Although there are classes that one can take in order to get an ideal of African American history, there is so much that is unknown. If you were to ask an African American how far back they can trace their lineage, their answer might end with their great grandparents. Personally, I have tried several times to trace my lineage through Ancestor.com and I have not had any success yet. This mostly because black families were separated from each other without knowing where their other family members may have gone. However, this is soon to change thanks to a project called, “The Freeman’s Bureau Project”.
According to Discoverfreeman.org, “The Freedmen’s Bureau Project was created as a set of partnerships between Family Search International and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and the California African American Museum”. The project allows African Americans to trace their lineage back to the Civil War era. African Americans can simply enter one of their ancestor’s name and review records from their ancestors.
For more information, visit http://www.discoverfreedmen.org
While this project is deemed as heaven sent, there’s still more work to be completed. There are tens of thousands of records that need to be reviewed and uploaded. Discoverfreeman.org is asking for volunteer’s to sign up and help make these records searchable. I have signed up as a volunteer with the hopes of not only finding my ancestors, but also helping others find theirs. Together we can keep our ancestor’s history alive and the outline of our future brighter.