Ancestry.com Adds Lincoln & Civil War Docs

This announcement on the 24/7 Family History Circle blog today:

PROVO, UTAH – Feb. 12, 2009 – Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online resource for family history, announced today it will commemorate the 200th birthday of one of the nation’s greatest Presidents – Abraham Lincoln – with the addition of five new databases to its Civil War Collection. This historically significant collection includes unique content such as photographs, handwritten letters, slave manifests and pension applications, and spans the days of slavery to the Civil War and through Reconstruction. The new databases will make millions of important Civil War era records easily searchable alongside other records already available at Ancestry.com, creating the largest online collection of Civil War documents, containing more than 12 million names.

Among the five new databases, The Abraham Lincoln Papers is an incredible collection of more than 20,000 documents – most from the 1850s through Lincoln’s presidential years – which include drafts of speeches and the Emancipation Proclamation, incoming and outgoing correspondence and notes, and printed material. The Abraham Lincoln Papers Collection will be searchable for free on Ancestry.com.

“We’re very proud to be adding these amazing Civil War era historical materials to our already robust Civil War Collection,” said Gary Gibb, Vice President for U.S. Content for Ancestry.com. “As the 200th birthday of one of our nation’s greatest Presidents approaches, we thought it was the perfect time to add these databases to our site and to help individuals discover their family members who lived during a time of such dramatic change in America.”

The Civil War Collection is part of Ancestry.com’s U.S. Military Collection, which includes more than 100 million names from the 1600s through Vietnam. The five new Civil War era databases now available on Ancestry.com include:

  • Abraham Lincoln Papers (from the Library of Congress) – a collection of more than 20,000 letters written to and from President Lincoln, as well as drafts of speeches. The collection includes a letter from Mary Lincoln, Lincoln’s wife, who chides him for not responding promptly to her letters and requests a check for $100. Other documents include a draft of Lincoln’s speech from 1863 condemning slavery and a letter from May 11, 1863 written by Ellie B. Reno, niece of Brig. Gen. Jesse Reno – who had disguised herself as a male to fight in the Union Army – asking him, “…iff [sic] I can remain in your Service…” These letters can be searched for free on Ancestry.com.
  • New Orleans Slave Manifests, 1807-1860 – includes images of ship manifests transporting more than 30,000 slaves en route to New Orleans from the upper Southern states. It offers insights into the lives of these men and women, who were likely being moved to the lower Southern states to provide labor for the booming cotton industry. The manifests will be transcribed by a global community of family history enthusiasts through Ancestry.com’s World Archives Project in the coming months.
  • Confederate Pension Applications from Georgia – more than 60,000 records documenting pension applications filed in Georgia from Confederate soldiers and their widows. As part of the application process, applicants answered a series of questions about themselves and signed the document, resulting in a wealth of personal information.
  • Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardons – a collection containing more than 15,000 records of former Confederate soldiers and government officials requesting Presidential pardons.
  • U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles – contains more than 4.2 million records and profiles about nearly every officer and soldier who fought in the Civil War. Many of the records include actual photographs of the individuals.

Over the next two years, Ancestry.com will add millions more historical records from the Civil War period to its Web site, as the country approaches the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of that historic conflict. The five new Civil War databases are now available online as part of Ancestry.com’s Civil War Collection.

About Ancestry and The Generations Network
The Generations Network, Inc., through its flagship Ancestry.com property, is the world’s leading resource for online family history. Ancestry.com has local websites in nine countries and has digitized and put online over 7 billion names and 27,000 historical records collections over the past ten years. Since July 2006, Ancestry.com users have created 9 million family trees containing 865 million profiles and 16 million photographs and stories. The Generations Network also includes myfamily.com, Genealogy.com, Rootsweb.ancestry.com, MyCanvas.com, dna.ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Magazine. More than 7.9 million unique visitors spent over 4 million hours on a TGN website in December 2008 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide).

I was thrilled about this announcement. But then, in a brief moment of cynicism, I thought, “Okay, but I bet they forgot the U.S. Colored Troops!” So I went to the U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, and entered the name of my gg-grandfather, Zeke Johnson.   Much to my delight, his name and profile immediately appeared!

I then looked up my Confederate gg-grandfather, George Preston Birdsong’s name in Confederate Pension Applications from Georgia.  Here I found a transcription error. George P[reston] Birdsong was listed as George R. Birdsong.  Every other identifier (unit, county, etc.) was correct for George P.   So I made a correction to that page.  George P. Birdsong was from Upson County and served with the 5th Regiment, Georgia Infantry.   George R. Birdsong, his cousin, hailed from Clay County and served in  the 51st Regiment, Georgia Infantry.

I learned quite a bit about George P. Birdsong, including why he didn’t get his pension–something I had wondered about for many years.  I’ll write about it one day soon.

These are great additions by Ancestry.com–be sure to check them out!

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Craig


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