Ancestry Works to Bring Black Family Histories Forward

Ancestry is expanding the resources it offers to Black family histories. Ancestry recognizes family history research can be challenging for Black Americans due to the long history of slavery in the U.S. and the lack of documentation about those who were enslaved. In an effort to aid in Black family history discoveries, Ancestry will be adding several new searchable and digitized collections over the course of the year so every story can be told.

In addition to existing Ancestry collections such as U.S. City Directories, Military Records, and The U.S. Census which offer insight into the remarkable contributions of our Black ancestors, Ancestry will be extending their resources in 2021 to include:

Digitization of the U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau Records for all U.S. States: The Freedmen’s Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War.

Danish West Indies Record Collections: These collections of records can be used to enable discoveries and establish connections to enslaved people with ties to the Danish West Indies, today known as the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Reindexed U.S. Probate Collection: An update to Ancestry’s U.S. Wills and Probate Collection, which Ancestry first made available in 2015, will capture all people mentioned by name in wills and can further help descendants of previously enslaved people make additional discoveries about their families.

Also this year, Ancestry is honoring and highlighting some of the most important historical Black figures from yesterday, and today’s greats who will be tomorrow’s, through a partnership with The New York Times. Family history stories and historic milestones of Black Americans will be shared through videos, editorials and more across multiple channels and platforms.

Ancestry is committed to continue unearthing new avenues to support the empowerment of Black Americans. While there is much more to be done, we are excited to take this first step toward enabling every story to be found and shared.

Related Articles at

National Museum of African American History & Culture

The Origin of Black History Month

Probate Records Help Genealogists Trace Black Family Ancestries

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