The Freedmen’s Bureau Project is a new initiative by the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints helping 1.5 million handwritten historical documents be made available online. It will allow descendants of former African-American slaves to learn more about their family roots and find out who their relatives or certain people may or may not be.

The Freedmen’s Bureau was created at the end of War War II, helping newly-freed slaves adjust back into American society. They opened schools to educate freed slaves, managed hospitals, rationed food and clothing for the destitute, and even solemnized marriages.

In doing so, the Bureau gathered handwritten records on over four million former African Americans slaves that are now being digitally reconstructed with the help of volunteers to be made available in a searchable database at discoverfreedmen.org at the end of 2016. This will give African Americans the ability to find their roots that were once hidden and gives of voice to millions of enslaved people who may have not had one before.