Since 1976, Black History Month has been celebrated annually in the United States of America during the month of February and the United Kingdom in the month of October. In the U.S. Black History Month is also called African-American History Month.
In honor of Black History Month, Ancestry.com has launched more than 250,000 new records that document early African American family history.
There are five new collections that span more than a century and contain details about the lives of African Americans who fought in the U.S. Civil War. Also documented is the transportation of slaves to and from the slave ports of New Orleans and Savannah, Georgia, and first-person accounts from former slaves.
“The Ancestry.com African American Historical Record Collection includes thousands of poignant stories that bring this part of American history to life. One story outlines how Solomon Northup was lured from New York to Washington, D.C with the promise of a job in a circus. Instead he was kidnapped, put on a boat to New Orleans and sold into slavery. His liberation in 1853 prompted him to write “Twelve Years a Slave, 1841-1853,” which became both a popular seller at the time and an important historical document. The ship record of his transfer to New Orleans, which also lists most of the cast of characters from his book, can be found in Ancestry.com’s Slave Ship Manifests from New Orleans, 1807-1860. (original record images available)
The five new collections form part of the 60 million records already included in Ancestry.com’s African American Historical Record collection—the largest online collection of African American family history records available. These new collections are:
- US Colored Troops Service Records, 1861-1867: Approximately 178,000 African American troops served the Union in the final two years of the US Civil War. Their compiled service records include enlistment papers, casualty sheets, death reports and correspondence.
- Slave Ship Manifests from Savannah, 1789-1859: Although the transatlantic slave trade was banned in 1807, the internal transportation of slaves remained, especially as the tobacco industry diminished in the North while the cotton industry boomed in the South. These port records document the arrival and departure of more than 10,000 slaves through the port of Savannah, GA.
- Slave Ship Manifests from New Orleans, 1807-1860: Another important Southern port, this collection includes records for more than 100,000 slaves who arrived or departed through the port of New Orleans.
- Freedmen’s Bureau Records, 1865-1878: The Freedmen’s Bureau was formed after the Civil War to aid in Reconstruction efforts. This collection contains hundreds of thousands of records relating to former slaves the Bureau helped find work, to establish schools, negotiate contracts, seek medical care, legalize marriages and more.
- Slave Narratives, 1936-1938 (updated): In the early 1930s, an effort began to document the life stories of 3,500 former slaves. The result is a series of moving, individual accounts of their lives, as told in their own words.”
To read the press release in more detail please click on the link to Ancestry.com