For many African Americans you can dig up your ancestry for the last 150 years or so with a bit of diligence and hard work. The brick wall many meet is prior to the end of slavery after the Civil War.
Some, can go back to the initial 1790 census, but before that time, things get incredibly difficult to sort out.
Making that search even more difficult, was the Civil War itself, where Union Troops burned a number of local Courthouses in the South, destroying both property and civil records.
Those records which survived were copied onto microfilm, but until now, were never transcribed onto electronic media to make them searchable by computer.
The end of slavery meant a kind of beginning for the family histories of many African-Americans: for the first time, the enslaved people’s identities and family connections became part of a public record. And the huge task of recording that data fell to the federal Freedmen’s Bureau. Read the rest of this entry »