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LDS Church
Inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Pulling a flash drive from a lantern, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented a database of African American slaves freed after the Civil War to the Smithsonian's new National African American Museum of History and Culture on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday's event celebrated the completion of a massive nationwide project to compile a database of nearly 1.8 million of the 4 million enslaved people freed at the end of the war.

The Freedmen Bureau Project, a landmark in African American genealogy, included 25,550 volunteers in the United States and Canada who indexed 1.78 million records. Indexing is the process of creating digital files of handwritten documents.

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The project included more than 100 indexing events in which chapters of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society partnered with congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, black churches and others.

"For the first time in history, African Americans can now bridge the gap between freedom and slavery and reunite their families — on paper — that were once torn apart by slavery," Elder Christofferson said.

Congress organized the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1865 to provide assistance to freed slaves. The bureau's handwritten records from 15 states include marriage registers.

African Americans can access the Freedmen’s Bureau Records online at no cost at discoverfreedmen.org.