Ancestry.com Celebrates Black History Month by Providing Free Access to Historical Records Detailing the Lives of Hundreds of Thousands of African Americans
PROVO, Utah, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- For African Americans, tracking down ancestors can present a unique set of challenges -- few other groups face as many obstacles when it comes to family history research. Often, a lack of credible documentation can make the journey both difficult and time-consuming. Fortunately, there is a vast collection of data available online. In celebration of Black History Month, Ancestry.com, which hosts the largest online collection of family history records, has launched an all new African American Research Center at . Throughout the month of February, Ancestry.com will be offering free access to this vast collection of historical records detailing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans. "Public records, personal narratives, legal documents, and letters -- evidence of the past, left behind by those who lived it -- can be extremely valuable tools for understanding the lives, legacies, and stories of our ancestors and the worlds in which they lived," said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of MyFamily.com, Inc., which operates Ancestry.com. "By making this information easily accessible, Ancestry.com is making it easier for the people to uncover and share the personal stories that make up their family history and heritage." A wealth of personal information can be obtained in the documents available at Ancestry.com and the African American Research Center (http://www.ancestry.com/aahistory ). Some of the records available include:
Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1874 -- Shortly after the Civil War in March 1865, several New York business men started the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, or Freedman's Bank -- a savings bank where soldiers and former slaves could invest their money. The Freedman's Bank records show depositors' names and sometimes other personal information such as age, place of birth, and occupation.
Slave Schedules, 1850 & 1860 -- Slaves were counted separately during the 1850 and 1860 U.S. censuses. In most schedules, the names of land owners only were recorded; individual slaves were not named but were simply numbered and can be distinguished only by age, sex, and color.
U.S. Federal Census, 1870 -- The 1870 census is the first U.S. Federal Census to list African Americans by name (in previous censuses they were included only as tally marks on a page).
Civil War Service Records -- A listing of over 5.3 million men who served in the war. Each record provides the soldier's name, company, unit, the individual's rank when inducted and rank when discharged.
Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820 -- Detailed information on over 100,000 slaves who arrived in Louisiana between 1718 and 1820. The records include rich personal details such as name, gender, race, birthplace, family names and relationships, skill or trade, personality traits and information about how the person was freed.
Slave Narratives -- A collection of one-on-one interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves collected over a ten-year period from 1929 to 1939. The interviews, written exactly as they were dictated to preserve the spoken dialect of the former slave, are very rich in family history data and often identify ages, places of residence and birth, and names of spouses, children, siblings, and parents.
WWI Draft Registration Cards -- In 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men, close to 25% of the total population of the United States, completed a World War I draft registration card. The cards contain more than just names and dates: they contain significant genealogical information such as birthplace, citizenship status, and information on the individual's nearest relative. If a person was of African descent, the bottom left corner was cut off of the registration card to make that distinction.
Family and Local Histories -- A compilation of journals, memoirs, and other first-hand personal narratives that provide a poignant picture of daily life, from everyday challenges to extreme hardships.