The Freedmen’s Bureau Project, a Smithsonian genealogical project that is reconnecting millions of African-Americans with their Civil War-era ancestors, will be presented at Fresno State at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16.
A special project with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Freedmen’s Bureau Project was established after the Civil War to help freed slaves adjust. The project has produced millions of documents listing family names and lands owned by the freed slaves, said Debra Mortimer of FamilySearch International, a non-profit genealogy organization that is assisting with the project.
The project now seeks 2,016 volunteers to index and convert the handwritten records of freed-slaves for an online database and welcomes Valley residents to participate.
Approximately half of the records have now been indexed. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has set a goal to complete the indexing in time for the “Juneteenth” holiday on June 19, commemorating the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas learned they had been freed.
Speakers at Tuesday’s presentation include:
- Sam Singley, a family history researcher and indexer with the Freedmen’s Project who researched his own family back to the Civil War;
- Denise Lancaster-Young, the chapter president of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Central California;
- Francine Oputa, director of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center at Fresno State;
- Deanna Reese, faculty in the Department of History and chair of the Africana Studies program.
“These records add to the story of African-Americans after the Civil War,” Reese said. “By knowing your genealogy you can know where you came from and better understand yourself.”
(University Communications news assistant Erika Denise Castañon contributed to this report).