Maryland and Delaware, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.|
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War to supervise relief efforts including education, health care, food and clothing, refugee camps, legalization of marriages, employment, labor contracts, and securing back pay, bounty payments, and pensions. These records include letters and endorsements sent and received, account books, applications for rations, applications for relief, court records, labor contracts, registers of bounty claimants, registers of complaints, registers of contracts, registers of disbursements, registers of freedmen issued rations, registers of patients, reports, rosters of officers and employees, special and general orders and circulars received, special orders and circulars issued, records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads. This collection corresponds with NARA microfilm publication M1906, Records of the Field Offices for the States of Maryland and Delaware, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Maryland and Delaware. Field Offices for the States of Maryland and Delaware, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Freedmen's Bureau Letters, 1865-1870. NARA M1906. National Archive and Records Center. Washington, D.C.
The following important genealogical information is often found in Bureau records:
- Name of the freedman
- Name of the freedman’s former owner
- Date of the record
- Marriage date
- Marriage place
How to Use the Records
The Freedmen’s Bureau records are a major source of genealogical information about post Civil War African Americans. To begin your search it is helpful to know the name and some other identifying information such as age, residence or former owner.
Search the Collection
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "_____________" category
⇒Select the "_____________" category
⇒Select the "_____________" category which takes you to the images
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors. For example use the place of residence, age, and other information for each person to search for the individuals in census records and other types of records.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- The records are a good source to quickly identify a family group and residence.
- Former slaves may have had used multiple names or changed their names until they decided upon one particular name. Search all possible names along with variations or spellings of their known names.
- If you cannot find your ancestor search the indexes and records of neighboring localities.
General Information About Freedmen's Bureau Records
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established in the War Department in March of 1865. It was commonly called the Freedman’s Bureau and was responsible for the management and supervision of matters relating to refuges, freedmen, and abandoned lands. The Bureau assisted disenfranchised Americans, primarily African Americans, with temporal, legal and financial matters, with the intent of helping people to become self-sufficient. Matters handled included the distributing of food and clothing; operating temporary medical facilities; acquiring back pay, bounty payments, and pensions; facilitating the creation of schools, including the founding of Howard University; reuniting family members; handling marriages; and providing banking services. Banking services were provided by the establishment of the Freedman’s Saving and Trust Company, or Freedman’s Bank.
The Bureau functioned as an agency of the War Department from approximately June 1865 until December 1868. In 1872, the functions of the Bureau were transferred to the Freedmen’s Branch of the Adjutant General’s Office.
The Bureau assisted over one million African Americans, including many of the nearly four million emancipated slaves, which was over 25% of the population of former slaves in America.
The records identify those who sought help from the Bureau at the end of the Civil War. Most supplicants were freed slaves, some of which were military veterans. In addition, a few veterans who were not African Americans also sought help from the Bureau. Freedmen’s Bureau records are usually reliable, because the records were supplied through first-person correspondence or the recording of a marriage.
Related Wiki Articles
- United States Freedmen’s Bureau Letters (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- African American Freedmen’s Bureau Records
- Quick Guide to African American Records
- African American Research
Citing Family Search Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
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- “Delaware Marriage Records,” database and digital images, FamilySearch (: 4 March 2011), William Anderson and Elizabeth Baynard Henry, 1890; from Delaware, State Marriage Records 23 November 1913, no. 859, Delaware Bureau of Archives and Records Management, Dover; FHL microfilm 2,025,063.
- “El Salvador Civil Registration,” database and digital images, FamilySearch (: 21 March 2011), Jose Maria Antonio del Carmen, 1880; from La Libertad, San Juan Opico, Nacimientos 1879-1893, image 50; Ministerio Archivo Civil de la Alcaldia Municipal, San Salvador.