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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

Extraction and Indexing of Freedmen's Bureau Records

Freedmen Extraction and Indexing Project Welcomes Volunteers

Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced on October 26, 2006, that Virginia will be the first state in the nation to participate in a historic extraction and indexing project focused on the preservation of the Freedmen's Bureau records. The Freedmen's Bureau, which operated from 1865 to 1872, was a federal agency that provided assistance and relief to newly freed African Americans. The Freedmen's Bureau records provide the earliest major compilation of information on the African-American community, documenting names, legalized marriages, educational pursuits, work contracts, and receipt of rations, healthcare, legal, and other services. According to Governor Kaine, these are the "genesis records" of African-American identity post Civil War. The Bureau's records, which are housed at the National Archives and Records Administration, have recently been digitized, and now are being extracted and indexed to make them accessible to researchers.

The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia is coordinating the recruitment of volunteers who will transcribe the records. Volunteers should have basic computer skills, access to the Internet, and an inherent interest in African American history and genealogy. Do consider becoming a part of this historic project. Volunteering will take only a modest amount of your time and can be done from your home computer. More than 100 persons have signed up already from places as far away as Australia. To volunteer, email your name, address, and phone number to the Project Director at: If you would like further information about the project, email Bessida Cauthorne White at or call her at 804-651-8753.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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