Fayetteville State University among those collaborating with Smithsonian to transcribe Freedmen's Bureau documents

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Freedmen's Bureau was established by the government in 1865 to provide assistance to free men and women once slavery ended. Many of the remaining documents from that time still need to be transcribed.

Fayetteville State University is the only HBCU in the state participating in this effort, which is important because it is likely that these historical records are missing pieces to family puzzles.

"With these records, people can discover where their ancestors once resided, any assistance they may have received or also things about their family history simply lost ...until now," said Fayetteville State University student and library technician Nicholle Young. "These records from North Carolina are primarily based in Wilmington. However, what's cool is they are relevant to Fayetteville. For example, this letter I'm transcribing right now is from Fayetteville, North Carolina 1866."

Young is participating in a virtual pilot program with the Smithsonian to transcribe historical documents from the Freedmen's Bureau.

Relief to free men and women came in the form of resources such as healthcare and education. The Freedmen's Bureau constructed many HBCUs, such as Fayetteville State University in 1867.

Other participating groups include the River Jordan Council, Cumberland County Library, Cumberland County Schools students and other community members.

"I felt it was an incredible experience to be able to move our kids from learning history to being a part of history," said Westover High School social studies teacher Daniel Smith. "It was a fantastic opportunity to get our kids involved in learning the history, specifically, what happened after slavery ended and the hardships."

The digitized documents are written in calligraphy and give North Carolinians a new outlook on Black history.
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