AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum
H. R. 390
I wanted to post this some time ago, but I was not sure where. I watched a presentation on TV with several members of Congress giving their support of this bill.
H. R. 390 The Preservation of Records of Servitude, Emancipation, and Post-Civil War Reconstruction Act
Thursday, January 11, 2007
“As our nation is about to pause to remember and to recognize the extraordinary efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am pleased to introduce legislation that will eliminate a vestige of our country’s disgusting history of slavery,“ Lantos said. “Unlike most Americans, researching African-Americans family histories from the 19th Century has been hampered by the lack of well-catalogued birth, death, and marriage records. Instead, genealogists and descendants of these families must often try to identify the name of former slave owners, hoping that the owners kept records of pertinent information, such as births and deaths. Compounding this problem is the fact that most of these records are often inaccessible or poorly maintained.”
The Preservation of Records of Servitude, Emancipation, and Post-Civil War Reconstruction Act (H.R 390) builds on the foundation of the Freedmen’s Bureau Records Preservation Act, which was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate in 2000 and which became Public Law 106-444. That law required the Archivist of the United States to create a searchable indexing system to catalogue the genealogical records from the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. H.R. 390 will augment the already highly useful catalogue created by the National Archives to protect countless other critically important historic documents.
The Lantos bill directs the National Archives to preserve additional post-Civil War Reconstruction records. It also establishes a grant program for the Archivist to work with various states, universities, colleges, and genealogical institutions to establish digitized databases so that anyone in this country will have access to these treasure troves of information.
The bipartisan H.R. 390 has 20 cosponsors. It is similar to a bill that Congressman Lantos introduced last year which passed the Government Reform Committee unanimously but did not come up for a vote in the full House of Representatives, which was under Republican control at the time.