South Carolina, Freedmen Bureau Field Office Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: South Carolina, Freedmen Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872 .
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 M1910, Records of the Field Offices for the State South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872. English
For a list of records currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
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.
- South Carolina. Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Freedmen's Bureau Letters, 1865-1872. NARA M1906. National Archive and Records Center. Washington, D.C.
The information in these records varies. You may find any of the following:
- Name of the freedman
- Name of the freedman’s former owner
- Date of the record
- Names of family members
- Dates of birth, marriage or death
- Physical descriptions
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 "Freedmen's Bureau Office or Subordinate Field Office Location" category
⇒Select the "NARA Roll Number - Contents" category which takes you to the images.
Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
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.
- National Archives Resources for Genealogists
- Publications of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project
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
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.