Ancestry Posts Greatly Expanded African-American Historical Records Collection

Captains Lemuel R. Curtis and Charles B. Hall, 99th Fighter Squadron, 06-1944On accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “When the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have pause and say, ‘There lived a great people–a black people–who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization encouraging us to find the origins of our existence.'” is paving the way for African-Americans everywhere to discover their ancestors with the launch of a greatly expanded African-American Historical Records Collection–the world’s largest online collection of black history records. Here’s what you will find in the collection:

  • Freedmen’s Bureau Records
    An eclectic record collection of former slaves (1865-1874) taken by the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was formed to assist freed people in the South during Reconstruction.
  • Freedman’s Bank Records
    More than 480,000 records of Freedman’s Savings and Trust, which served thousands of former slaves between 1865 and 1874.
  • African American Family History Books Online
    Books featuring inspiring stories of African American lives in history.
  • African American Photo Collection
    Thousands of photos showing African Americans throughout American history. The photograph accompanying this blog entry is from this collection and is of Captains Lemuel R Custis (Left) and Charles B Hall, of the 99th Fighter Squadron. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
  • World War I Draft Cards
    Records of nearly 2 million black men (ages 18-45) who registered for the WWI draft in 1917 and 1918.
  • Slave Narratives
    Narratives that recount the life stories of 3,500 former slaves.
  • U.S. Federal Census
    The U.S. Federal Census online includes more than 53 million African-American records and is a significant source for black family history research.
  • U.S. Colored Troops Records (86,000 Currently available, with more coming soon**)
    Records of the more than 178,000 men who served in the U.S. Colored Troops regiments during the Civil War.
  • Southern Claims Commission Records (**Coming Soon**)
    From 1871-1880, the Southern Claims Commission considered compensation claims made by over 20,000 individuals within the eleven Confederate States.
  • Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records (**Coming Soon**)
    Following the Civil War, tens of thousands of newly freed slaves sought to legalize their marriages. The Freedmen’s Bureau was responsible for the “solemnization” of thousands of marriages of former slaves.

This collection is a wonderful way for African-American researchers and students studying Black history to gain insights into the lives of millions of African-Americans who made their mark in history. Click here to access the African-American Collection and start your journey through the past. (Free for three days!)

3 thoughts on “Ancestry Posts Greatly Expanded African-American Historical Records Collection

  1. Nice list, good to see the update. You can already get Southern Claims Commission Records online on

  2. I have been grateful for these records, but I’d be a LOT happier if the U.S. Colored Troops Records were working. At least in Library Edition, many images won’t display. I first reported this on 13 November, and it’s still a problem. Please fix?!

  3. Replies to my post on the Ancestry Site Comments board confirm that personal subscriptions are showing the same problem for the U.S. Colored Troops Records.

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