African American Resources for AlabamaEdit This Page
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Pre-Civil War records
slave importation declarations, plantation records, emancipation records, apprenticeship bonds for freedmen, Alabama hiring practices, census records, plantation owners’ family records, church and cemetery records, military records, and Alabama court records.
Some plantation records mention slaves. The Family History Library has many plantation records on microfilm. These records are described in a series of booklets by Kenneth M. Stampp. Guides for Series A–M are available at the Family History Library:
Stampp, Kenneth M., ed. A Guide to Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War: Series A–M, Selections from the Manuscript Department, Duke University Library. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1986. ( Family History Library .) The Family History Library has microfilms of most of the records described in the guide. Alabama plantation records are scattered throughout.
For example, the booklet for Series F describes records of many plantations in Alabama and other states of the Deep South. The records were microfilmed at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. They are:
Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution Through the Civil War: Series F, Selections from the Manuscript Department, Duke University Library. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1986–1987. (On 84 Family History Library .)
For a history of slavery in Alabama, see:
Sellers, James Benson. Slavery in Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1950, 1994. (Family History Library .) This 426 page book includes a bibliography, on pages 399–409.
Records of African-Americans may be listed as "colored" in birth, marriage and death records. See Alabama Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for those records
Civil War Records
A record was made of men of African descent who served in the Confederate Army:
Alabama. Department of Archives and History. Negroes in the Confederate Army, 1860–1907. (Family History Library .) This source lists the name of the soldier and his duty. It may indicate the name of the slave owner, the date of pay, master’s place of residence, where the soldier served in the military, and his military expenses.
An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company. This company was created to assist African-American soldiers of the Civil War and freed slaves. Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers from 3 March 1865 to 25 July 1874 may list the name of the depositor, date of entry, age, birthplace, residence, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband’s name, death information, children’s names, name of father and mother, brothers’ and sisters’ names, remarks, and signature. Early books sometimes contained the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. Copies of death certificates were sometimes attached to the entries. The collection is organized alphabetically by state, then city where the bank was located, then date the account was established, then account number.
Jim Crow Era
Alabama had a branch of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company in Huntsville and Mobile. In each city depositors are listed by account number. The records are in:
Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Huntsville, Alabama), Registers of Signatures of Depositors, 1865–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. (Family History Library .)
Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Mobile, Alabama). Registers of Signatures of Depositors, 1867–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. (Family History Library .)
Freedman’s Bureau. Additional government records are:
United States: Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Records of the Assistant Commissioner for Alabama, 1865–1869. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0809. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. (Family History Library .) These reports primarily contain statistical and historical information. For 1865 and 1866, the section on abandoned and confiscated lands (Family History Library ) includes the names of the owners of the plantations or homes that were abandoned, confiscated, or leased. It gives the county and location, a description of the house, the number of acres owned, and the number of cabins of former slaves. These films do not appear to contain the names of former slaves.
The separate Freedman’s Bureau records do not usually name relatives or give genealogical information. They can be found in the Family History Library Catalog Subject Search under:
FREEDMEN - ALABAMA
Slaves are sometimes mentioned in deeds (see "Land and Property"), wills (see "Probate Records"), tax records (see "Taxation"), and court order books (see "Court Records") under their owner’s name. A few parish registers (see "Church Records") list slaves who attended church with their masters.
Several biographical dictionaries, compendia, and histories may contain information you need, for example:
Black Biographical Dictionaries, 1790–1950. Alexandria, Virginia: Chadwyck-Healy, 1980. (On 1070 Family History Library .) This publication is sometimes referred to as "The Black Biography Project." Three of the sources included in this collection are:
Bothe, Charles Octavius. The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama: Their Leaders and Their Work. Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Alabama Publishing, 1895. (Family History Library [set of 3].) This book contains biographies, birth dates, parents’ names, and sometimes pictures. It also provides information on associations and state conventions.
Mixon, Winfield Henri. History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Alabama, with Biographical Sketches. Selma, Alabama: A.M.E. Church Sunday School Union, 1902. (Family History Library [set of 3].) This book provides pictures, church minutes and history, and speeches. There is no index.
Moorman, Joseph H. and E. L. Barrett. Leaders of the Colored Race in Alabama. Mobile, Alabama: News Publishing, [198–?]. (Family History Library [set of 2].) This source contains biographical sketches with birth dates, educational information, a history of each minister’s service, and a history of churches. It includes an index.
Military records of Alabama
1862: Over 10,000 Alabama freedmen served as Union Soldiers
World War II (1941-1945)
Combat Connected Naval Causalities, World War II, by States. Two Volumes. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946. (Family History Library .) This source is alphabetically arranged by state, then within the state by dead, missing, wounded, Prisoner of War (POW), died or killed while a POW, and POWs released.
Tuskegee Airmen tuskegeeairmen.org An estimated 16,000 to 19,000 airmen including mechanics, parachute riggers and support staff were involved.
For photos of Tuskegee Airmen americanprofile.com/tuskegee
Taylor, Frazine K. Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama A Resource Guide. Montgomery, Alabama: New South Books. 2008.
Online Resources for African-American Research
Alabama Department of Archives and History
Alabama Statewide Deaths 1908-1974 (Record Search)
Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama by Frazine K. Taylor (Google Books)
Birmingham Public Library: Collections and Research
Alabama African American Genealogy Research - A list of Alabama genealogy resources, including records and databases.
Access Genealogy: Alabama African American Records
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