Friday, January 20, 2006

A Genealogical Find is a Terrible Thing to Waste

This looks to be a good year for African American genealogy. The National Archives recently announced that Freedmen's Bureau records will be made more readily available to researchers. PBS will soon broadcast African American Lives, in which eight famous Americans are presented with their family trees. is creating a new "African American History Center," and will be offering 13 relevant databases free to the public throughout the month of February. African Ancestry, Inc., is making news for its DNA tracking service, which has traced the ancestries of more than 4,000 families back to specific countries and cultural groups in Africa.

And I've just noticed that HeritageQuest Online has put online some records they've been promising: The Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874.

The information contained in many of the registers is as follows: account number, name of depositor, date of entry, place born, place brought up, residence, age, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband, children, father, mother, brothers and sisters, remarks, and signature. The early books sometimes also contain the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. In many entries not all the requested data are given. Copies of death certificates have been pinned to some of the entries. In each case the certificate has been filmed immediately after the page that shows the registration of the person's signature.
If you don't yet use HeritageQuest Online, check out the list of libraries and societies that offer free access being compiled at The Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

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