Saturday, September 3, 2016

Freedmen Bureau records with SC indexing

Last week FamilySearch released an interesting collections update for the week of August 15, 2016. The update included several Freedmen Bureau record groups that have updated indexing for South Carolina.  As many of you know FamilySearch houses digitized Freedmen Bureau records that are only browsable but, recently, they have undertaken a crowdsourcing project to index the records and make them keyword searchable.

As a reminder, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the Civil War to supervise relief efforts and to assist the newly freed slaves in building new communities. The aid effort included: education, medical facilities, jobs and work contracts. The record groups that include SC indexing so far include: complaints, ration records and records from the Superintendent of Education.

In previous posts about this record group I’ve reiterated that this record group is not just for African American research. It is an important record for anyone doing SC local and family history research. For example, while experimenting with the records I found the complaint of Clara Ann Adams, a white woman from Anderson County. Clara had recently given birth. Unable to find a job she was looking for assistance. The child’s father was a black man, Wayne Donald, who worked on the nearby David Donald plantation. Before he was free he worked (i.e.: was a slave) on the plantation of Clara’s uncle. Clara lived with her uncle because her mother died when she was young. Whoa! There is a hot mess of genealogical information in that letter.

Not all the record groups, including the powerful labor contracts, have SC indexing available, yet. Use the above updated records to experiment with searching techniques to squeeze as much as you can out of the documents. There is more information to be revealed in upcoming releases. 

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