Bill proposes database on slave records

Information on the legislation

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A bill introduced Jan. 10 would set up a national online database to aid black Americans’ search for information on their ancestors.

The Preservation of Records of Servitude, Emancipation and Post-Civil War Reconstruction Act (H.R. 390) would establish an electronic database in the National Archives to house records from the Southern Claims Commission, the Freedman’s Bank, slave payrolls and slave manifests.

Many federal agencies already have these records, which will be used to form the database.

The bill also would give grants to state and local entities to build similar catalogs. It proposes $5 million to build the database and another $5 million for grants.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) introduced the legislation.

The bill has been sent to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for consideration.

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