Black historians and families researching their forbears could have a new national database to plumb if a Senate measure wins favor on Capitol Hill. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is proposing the creation of the database at the National Archives to offer a central registry of emancipation records, land deeds, wills, voter-registration and other far-flung documents from the slavery, Reconstruction and pre-civil-rights eras. In the House, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., is sponsoring a similar bill, which would also help states, colleges and genealogical organizations to establish digitized databases of similar records.
Here is a link to Sen. Landrieu's recent press release. The text of the SEARCH Act can be found here as a pdf file.
After reading the text of the proposed act, and pulling my cynical cap a wee bit tighter, I would prefer the language to read...
The Archivist of the United States shall establish, as a part of the National Archives, a national database consisting of historic records of servitude and emanicaption in the Unites States to assist all
AfricanAmericans in researching their genealogy.
As I understand it, my 4th greatgrandfather, Stephen Fluharty, was an indentured servant. He later fought in the Revolutionary War. I am not African American (that I know of), but I do have someone in my line that should have a record of servitude. I have traced my family as coming from: Canada, France, Scotland, England, Germany and elsewhere. My wife's mother's family comes mostly from Germany. Her father's side from Europe. Yet, according to the proposed bill, the new database is not designed for me, but only for African Americans.
If the bill is accepted into law (and I hope that it is), I'll search the new database. I don't expect to find my people in there, but I truly am glad that Sen. Landrieu is pushing to get this in place. It will be a good thing for the whole of the genealogical community.
Thank you, Sen. Landrieu.