"These records cover subjects including slavery, military service, and issues facing African Americans dating back to the late 18th century," explains James Hastings, Director of Access Programs at NARA. "Making these records available online will help people to better understand the history and sacrifice that took place in this country."
Footnote.com has spent the last two years with NARA compiling this collection and is currently working on adding more records that will be released in the upcoming months. African American records currently on Footnote.com include:
* Service Records for Colored Troops in the Civil War – Records for the 2nd-13th infantries including enlistment papers, casualty sheets, oaths of allegiance, proof of ownership and bills of sale.
* American Colonization Society – Letters and reports relating to this colony established in 1817 for free people of color residing in the U.S.
* Amistad Case – Handwritten records of this landmark case beginning in 1839 involving the Spanish schooner Amistad, used to transport illegal slaves.
* Southern Claims Commission – Petitions for compensation resulting from the Civil War.
"The Southern Claims Commission records are a very rich, often overlooked resource for African American family research. They often contain information that cannot be found anywhere else," says Toni Carrier, Founding Director of the USF Africana Heritage Project. "These records document the experiences of former slaves during the Civil War and in the days immediately after. Many contain detailed narratives that make it possible for descendants to envision the lives and experiences of ancestors."
Footnote.com is also working on additional record collections that will be released shortly. Those records include:
* Records of the US District Court for the District of Columbia Relating to Slaves, 1851-1863 – includes slave schedules, manumission papers and case papers relating to fugitive slaves.
* Records for the Emancipation of Slaves in the District of Columbia, 1862-63 – minutes of meetings, docket books and petitions pertaining to emancipation of slaves.
* Registro Central de Esclavos 1872 (Slave Schedules) – registers from Puerto Rico giving information for each slave: name, country of origin, name of parents, physical description, master's name and more.
* Records Relating to the Suppression of the African Slave Trade and Negro Colonization, 1854-1872 - letters, accounts, and other documents relating to the suppression of the African slave trade.
* Correspondence of the Military Intelligence Division Relation to "Negro Subversion" 1917-1941 - record cards and correspondence of the Military Intelligence Division (MID) that relate to activities of blacks in both civilian and military life.
In addition to these records, Footnote.com also features member contributions that include topics ranging from the Underground Railroad to Women Abolitionists to African Americans receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"The contributions to our site have been impressive," says Russell Wilding, CEO of Footnote.com. "It's exciting to see people connect with history and with each other."
To view the African American Collection on Footnote.com visitors can go to http://go.footnote.com/blackhistory/.