FamilySearch made the following announcement on Monday:
Salt Lake City—This month, millions of individuals of African descent are celebrating Black History Month by exploring their family history roots. In the U.S., FamilySearch volunteers have been busy helping digitize historic documents and create free, searchable indexes to them online. Throughout Africa, from Accra to Zimbabwe, where irreplaceable family information and traditions are at risk of being lost due to neglect, war, and deterioration, FamilySearch volunteers are also helping preserve this valuable history so Africans can connect with their roots. Researchers can search the millions of African-related records as they are published online at FamilySearch.org.
They conclude their announcement with the following:
Many of the records collected by FamilySearch are now available for free on FamilySearch.org. More African records will be posted on the site in the coming months. Following are a few samples of some types of records at FamilySearch.org that may be of interest to those doing African or African-American research. Many of them are works in progress.
- Virginia, Freedmen’s Bureau Letters, 1865-1872
- U.S. Arkansas Confederate Pensions, 1901 to 1929
- Ghana 1982-1984 Census
- South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-1973
- U.S. Southern States Births, Marriages, and Deaths
- U.S. Naturalization Petitions
This is tremendous amount of material being made available. Their blog entry about this release says that the Virginia Freedmen’s Bureau records total more than 1 million records. It’s an important delivery of documents, and will provide a great deal of help for African-American researchers.