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Less than six months into the Freedmen’s Bureau Project, the initiative has reached two notable milestones. More than 10,000 indexing volunteers have contributed to the project, and together they have made 440,865 records (15 percent of the total) searchable online.
The project was announced in June 2015 by FamilySearch, a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The goal is to make more than 1 million Civil War–era historical documents — records of about 4 million freed men, women and children — available online in time for the September 2016 opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The Freedmen’s Bureau, organized under an 1865 Congressional order at the conclusion of the Civil War, offered assistance to freed slaves in many ways. Handwritten records of these transactions include records such as marriage registers, hospital or patient registers, educational efforts, census lists, labor contracts and indenture or apprenticeship papers and others. The records were compiled in 15 states and the District of Columbia.