African American Genealogy Records

  • “Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life.”

    — W.E.B. Du Bois

  • “We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”

    — Jesse Owens

  • “There's nothing written in the Bible, Old or New Testament, that says, ‘If you believe in Me, you ain't going to have no troubles.’”

    — Ray Charles

Find Your Ancestors in the Following Collections:

African American Genealogy Records and Research

Most people seeking their African American genealogy can trace their ancestry to slaves who were brought to this country from Africa and from the Caribbean Islands. FamilySearch provides free access to valuable African American historical records. These include military, census, and vital records, slave ownership records and bank records. Research guides and instructional videos are also available to help you learn how to use these records to find your ancestors.

Freedman’s Bureau

The Freedmen's Bureau was a U.S. federal government agency, initiated by President Lincoln after the Civil War to aide distressed freed slaves. The Bureau's main role during the years of 1865-1869 was to provide emergency food, housing, medical aid, and help reunite families. Later, it focused its work on helping freed slaves adjust to their new found freedom.

Numbers of United States Colored Troops by State, North and SouthView Record Data

Chart showing number of records, 1850-1930

The Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records

The records of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company were created as newly freed slaves opened savings accounts and borrowed money. The bank failed in 1874 but the records of the bank remain. The bank registers date from 1864 to 1871. They show the names, residence, and description of each depositor. They may also include the genealogy and relatives of the depositor.

These records are indexed and include about 480,000 personal names. They often show family history information about each depositor, such as birth date, birthplace, where raised, former owner, employer, occupation, residence, and relatives.