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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2013. It is an excerpt from their course Research: African American Ancestors  by Michael Hait, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Southern Claims Commission

The U.S. Congress created the Southern Claims Commission on 3 March 1871 in order to receive claims from loyal citizens of the southern states for property provided to—or destroyed by—the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Thousands of claims were filed.

Many freed African Americans filed claims for property lost during the War. Far more freedmen and freedwomen filed testimony in the claims of their former slave owners. Even when they were not the subject of the claim, their testimony often provides insightful detail about their own lives.

The original papers for approved, barred, and disallowed claims are held by the National Archives and Records Administration, among the records of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the Department of the Treasury. All of the barred and disallowed claim files and approved claims for a few states have also been transferred to microfiche, in multiple publications by state for approved claims, and for barred and disallowed claims. These microfiche publications have also been digitized and are available by paid subscription on Ancestry.com and Fold3. Fold3 has also digitized the paper claim files for approved claims in states not available on microfiche.

Southern Claims Commission - Mary Cowling Claim, page 1

Mary Cowling claim, no. 13131, April 1872;Barred and Disallowed Case Files of the Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880, microfiche publication M1407 FHL Film (Washington: National Archives and Records Administration), card 32.

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Southern Claims Commission - Mary Cowling Claim, page 2

Mary Cowling claim, no. 13131; Barred and Disallowed Case Files of the Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880, microfiche publication M1407 FHL Film (Washington: National Archives and Records Administration), card 32.

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Southern Claims Commission - Matthew A. Bolls Claim, page 1

Matthew A. Bolls claim, no. 14445, Settled Case Files for Claims Approved by the Southern Claims Commission; Department of the Treasury, Office of the First Comptroller; Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, 1775-1978, Record Group 217; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington.


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Southern Claims Commission - Matthew A. Bolls Claim, page 2

Matthew A. Bolls claim, no. 14445, Settled Case Files for Claims Approved by the Southern Claims Commission; Department of the Treasury, Office of the First Comptroller; Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, 1775-1978, Record Group 217; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: African American Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

The name of this category, "African Americans," was taken from the prevailing Library of Congress subject heading. The LC does not use "African American" or "African-American."

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