Researchers Building Database of African American Civil War Soldiers, Detailing Their Lives Both Before and After the War

A team of researchers has launched a project that is working to put online records of the United States Colored Troops—regiments of African American soldiers that included large numbers of men who had been slaves at the start of the Civil War.

In 1862, the Union Army officially created the United States Colored Troops (USCT)—regiments of African American soldiers that included large numbers of men who had been slaves at the start of the Civil War. However, details of these estimated 200,000 men who fought in the conflict are not easily accessible. While the army kept records of their backgrounds and where they fought as well as their fates and fortunes, they are housed, in paper format, in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

The African American Civil War Museum in Washington now plans to produce an electronic archive chronicling the lives of these soldiers, both before and after the war, shedding new light on life in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The project will use volunteer transcribers in a crowdsource effort. YOU can help!

You can read more in a news release in the NYU web site at


I read the other article and I am wondering if they are going to be transcribing records from the officers as well as the enlisted men. I believe that the officers were only white people, and I would be very interested to know if they were going to include all.


    I have transcribed many of these records in the past few weeks, and have yet to see an officer’s record. Most records have little information on what happened to the man, but in the Remarks section at the bottom of the card details of his service, promotion/demotion, illnesses, death due to battle wounds or more commonly to disease, mustering out (often in Texas), and desertion. Each man’s height is given, and they are toward the lower end of the typical heights of men of that time and place–5 feet 5 inches or so–with the least being 4 feet 10 inches and the greatest 6 feet 1 inch. Although the vast majority were born in the United States, I have seen a couple born in Canada and one in Cuba. Occupations are also listed, with most being farmer or laborer, but an occasional sailor enlisted and was usually transferred to the Navy. A number of men enlisted as substitutes for wealthy men who could afford to pay $300, and several of those promptly deserted, as was fairly common. Some, I’m sure, re-enlisted to get another bounty, which was also common, although probably under a different name. I highly recommend signing up and transcribing these very interesting records.


francese D Wilocox May 3, 2018 at 4:45 pm

this is wonderful news!


There were also a number of African American Confederates. Will they be included too?


Interesting. Not sure how Jasper McCown would have been considered though, as he was with my GG GF Simeon McCown. Jasper went with Simeon when he served the Confederacy. Jasper was captured and froze to death at Camp Douglas. He was probably consider Confederate since they made him a prisoner.


Reblogged this on Finding My Civil War Ancestor and commented:
As more Black history record come online, finding a Civil War ancestor becomes more accessible for those with African heritage. This post is from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter


Excellent plan. I am able to assist in indexing if help is needed. I have some experience, I indexed the Bureau of Refugees Freedman and Abandoned Lands for Family Search. Thank you for all you do Terri


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