Volunteers are Needed
Contact: Merrith Baughman, 402-223-3514
Help is needed, and Homestead National Monument of America is looking for volunteers to come to the park and help find key pieces of information contained within the Homestead Records! The Monument and its partners, Family Search, Fold3.com, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the National Archives and Records Administration have been actively digitizing Homestead Records for the last two years in an effort to have this information available to the public on the internet. We are now ready to start carefully indexing these records in an effort to provide scholars with important data like the age and gender of homesteaders. In addition, if the homesteader immigrated to the United States we will be documenting their country of origin. This data will help scholars answer important questions about the individuals who were homesteading the public lands of the United States! The process has been productive and the information contained in these records has the potential to re-write the historical narrative of the American West!
Homestead Land Entry Case Files are the existing paper trail left by those individuals claiming land under the Homestead Act. These records contain a wealth of information about the individual homesteaders and their activities during the 5 years they were improving their claim as they tried to get free land from the U.S. Government. Today, progress on the digitization of these records is accelerating. By the end of August over 1,000,000 pages in these case files will have been digitized by Family Search volunteers and will be viewable at www.fold3.com. In order to maximize this historical opportunity, Homestead National Monument of America and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Center for Research in the Digital Humanities staff, students, and volunteers are combing through these records one by one in an effort to extract essential data that can be used by researchers. This information could dramatically change the study of our past, and the story we tell in the future. Dr. Richard Edwards, Director at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that "scholars are already able to see the value of the information found in these records and predicts that once all 30 million records are digitized and indexed they will lead to a new interpretation of history as it relates to the settlement of the American West!"
As this project continues to grow, more help is going to be needed. If you are interested in volunteering for this project please contact Homestead National Monument of America's Historian Blake Bell at 402-223-3514 to find out how you can help.
Remember, Homestead National Monument of America has an exciting schedule of events planned for 2012, the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act of 1862. Keep up with the latest information by following us on Twitter (HomesteadNM) and Facebook (Homestead National Monument of America).
Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park Service located four miles west of Beatrice, Nebraska. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Admission is free of charge. For additional information, please call 402-223-3514 or visit http://www.nps.gov/home/index.htm.
Did You Know?
During the height of the Homesteading era, Ellis Island was established to process the millions of people immigrating to America to acquire land.
-- Homestead National Monument of America