Project reconnecting African-Americans with Civil War ancestors needs the communities help

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A project reconnecting millions of African-Americans with their Civil War-era ancestors is counting on help from people in the Central Valley. (KFSN)

A project reconnecting millions of African-Americans with their Civil War-era ancestors is counting on help from people in the Central Valley.

Tuesday afternoon at Fresno State staff and students were on hand for a special presentation from the Smithsonian Freedmen's Bureau Project. "We're hoping this project will give people the comfort and just the solitude that they need. So that they can learn where they come from and feel like they belong to something," said Denise Lancaster-Young, Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.

The Freedmen's Bureau Project was established after the Civil War to help freed slaves adjust. Organizers said the project has produced millions of documents listing family names and lands owned by the freed slaves. But the project now needs help to index and convert the handwritten records of freed slaves for an online database. "We're looking for thousands of people all over the united states. But specifically people here in Fresno we're asking people to join in and join the nation," said Lancaster-Young.

The volunteers sign up on the projects website, will be trained at a workshop later this month.

A Fresno State music major was invited to perform at the presentation. But now Chevas Clements wants to learn more and help out. He hopes it will benefit his future. "There is no way to understand who you are in the present if you don't know where you come from, and, you know, the things that your people did in the past to help you understand who you are now."

The National Museum of African American History and culture has set a goal to complete the indexing in time for the Juneteenth holiday on June 19th.

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Related Topics:
societyAfrican Americanshistoryfresno statefresno
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