Millions of African Americans will soon be able to trace their families through the era of slavery, some to the countries from which their ancestors were snatched, thanks to a new and free online service that is digitizing a huge cache of federal records for the first time.
Handwritten records collecting information on newly freed slaves that were compiled just after the civil war will be available for easy searches through a new website, it was announced on Friday.
The records belong to the Freedmen’s Bureau, an administrative body created by Congress in 1865 to assist slaves in 15 states and the District of Columbia transition into free citizenship.
Before that time, slaves were legally regarded as property in the US and their names were not officially documented. They…