by MaRico Tippett
Have you ever stopped to wonder where you came from? Not just who your parents or grandparents are. But have you ever thought about the history surrounding your family name. Have you pondered what legacies were left and or what trials your ancestors had to endure in order for you to be where you are today?
For many of us, all we have to do is log on to one of the many family history websites such as Familysearch.com, Ancestry.com, or Genealogy.com. With a little effort, skill and knowledge of genealogy, one can build a family tree as far back to the 1600s. For my children, they have seen their lineage traced back to the 1600s, but that is only on their Mother’s side of the family.
For my side of the family it wasn’t until very recently that we had a glimmer of hope of tracing our ancestry past 1870. In celebration of Juneteenth 2015, (a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of African-American slaves), FamilySearch, a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced The Freedmen’s Bureau Project.
The Freedmen’s Bureau Project is a collaborative effort between FamilySearch International and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as other organizations to reconnect African American families to their pre- civil war ancestors through digitized records containing more than 4 million names. The ultimate goal of the Project is to make these digitized records searchable. This will require help from tens of thousands of volunteers around the world.
The Project currently stands at 13% complete. Once completed, African Americans will have the best opportunity in American history to build their family tree beyond 1870. The Freedmen’s Bureau Project brings the possibility for my children to trace their lineage on both sides of the family. If you and your family would like to help in this endeavor, please go to www.discoverfreedmen.org.