Fold3 Makes Nearly 3 Million African American Records Free During Black History Month

The following news was received from Matthew Deighton at Ancestry.com

Fold3 is proud to announce Free access to our Black History Collection in honor of Black History Month. This collection includes many enlightening historical records documenting African American achievements since the earliest days of our nation, and will be available the entire month of February.

As soon as black soldiers were recruited to serve the Union in 1863, records were generated to document their service including Compiled Service Records for the U.S. Colored Troops and, ultimately, pension files. The pension file index cards, like this one for Joel Bedenbaugh, include a soldier’s rank, company, and regiment within the U.S.C. Infantry, his pension numbers, and sometimes a death date, 24 August 1913, in this case. Private Bedenbaugh’s 16-page service record also includes his enlistment record from when he joined up in Dayton, Ohio, in 1864.

Southern Claims Commission files are petitions by southerners who lost property to Union troops during the Civil War, including many blacks, like William and Louisa Ferguson. Though freeborn, Louisa was not only the wife of a slave, but also the daughter of George Washington’s carpenter, also a slave. Their claim for compensation of $150 for the loss of a horse was denied, but Louisa’s tales of Union and Confederate troops in the vicinity includes her encounters with the rebels and her service to the Union hospital nearby. A transcription of her file is here.

Explore these and thousands of other records documenting the history of African Americans in the U.S., from before the Civil War to the War in Vietnam. Join us as we recognize Black History Month and provide free* access to the Black History Collection on Fold3.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (www.FamilyRootsPublishing.com), writes daily at GenealogyBlog.com, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

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