The Freedmen's Bureau Project

Most people don't rejoice to find out that 19th-century banking records have been preserved, but writers of historical fiction are notoriously weird, and I was more than delighted to discover that the Freedmen's Bureau project had 1) decided to help people use the records associated with organizations for newly-freed slaves for genealogical research and 2) was directing them to the bank records in particular.

The bankers collected information on all of their account holders, going beyond the expected data of gender, age, address, and occupation to ask their customers about their place of origin and their families, both the ones they had created through marriage as well as the ones they had lost during slavery. I have pored over the Atlanta records for 1870 and they are full of stories.

But the Freedmen's Bureau website has captivated me for another reason--the images they use to connect the present and the past. They meld the historic and the contemporary in a wonderful way--like this image of two young women, and this one, of two young men. I can't  remember when I have seen a better visual metaphor.