House passes online database for slave records

The House passed a bill late Jan. 22 to preserve the historical records of slaves and emancipation by posting those records on a national online database.

The bill passed 414-1. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) cast the lone dissenting vote. The Senate must now consider the measure.

The Preservation of Records of Servitude, Emancipation and Post-Civil War Reconstruction Act (H.R. 390) requires the National Archives to establish an electronic database for the public to keep 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.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who introduced the legislation Jan. 10, said the lack of well-catalogued birth, death and marriage records has hindered research into black Americans’ family histories.

Genealogists and descendants of these families have to identify former slave owners’ names and hope the owners kept birth and death records. Even then, most of these records are often inaccessible or poorly maintained, Lantos said.

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

Featured

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

  • Comment
    Blue Signage and logo of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    Doing digital differently at VA

    The Department of Veterans Affairs CIO explains why digital transformation is not optional.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.