From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Using nearly 3.5 million documents from the National Archives and Records Administration, Ancestry.com has put together what it claims is the most comprehensive digital index of records from what’s known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, the federal agency charged with helping millions of Southern Black people adjust to lives of freedom after the Civil War. While the original handwritten bureau records have been available and digitized by the National Archives and genealogy resources such as FamilySearch for years, even trained historians found the records difficult, if not confounding, to search because of the labyrinthian way they were organized by topic and location.
That Ancestry has combined the entire collection of documents — including land records, labor contracts, court disputes, banking records, marriage licenses, schools, even food and clothing rations — and made them searchable now by keyword or name, represents a significant shift in the way people will be able to readily access a critical moment in the nation’s history, historians say. The service will be free, according to a company spokesperson.
Additional Information Direct via Ancestry.com