African American Freedmen's Bureau Records

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United States go to African American Research  go to Freedmen's Bureau

The Bureau's records (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands), kept from 1865-1872, contain a wide range of data about the African American experience during slavery and freedom. Therefore, they are a valuable source for the black family historian. Refugees include many in the local white population.
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Definition

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; aid involved: education (4,300 schools were established), health care (100 hospitals were established), issued food and clothing,operated refugee camps, helped legalize marriages, employment, supervised labor contracts, worked with African American soldiers and sailors and their heirs to secure back pay, bounty payments and pensions, for newly freed African Americans (four million), and to supervise confiscated Southern properties.

Mapping the Freedmen's Bureau

Mapping the Freedman's Bureau is a new web site helping researchers put their ancestors back on the historical landscape where they lived and is brought to you by Angela Walton-Raji, Co-Founder and Toni Carrier, Co-Founder.

Mapping includes

Value

Because the Bureau's records 1865-1872 contain a wide range of data about the African American experience during slavery and freedom, they are a valuable source for the black family historian. Among the records are registers that give the names, ages, and former occupations of freedmen and names and residences of former owners. In addition, there are marriage registers that provide the names, addresses, ages, and complexions of husbands and wives and their children. For some states there are census lists, details of labor and apprenticeship agreements, back pay records, complaint registers, personal data about black soldiers (including company and regiment), school records, hospital registers, census records, and records of murders committed against freedmen.

Challenges in Using the Records:

Most of the records are not indexed.

The record type and quality vary with each state, field office to field office.

Individuals may have changed their names.

Not all records survived or are available in searchable formats.

Jurisdictions

This bureau operated in the states of: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolin, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia West Virginia, and Indian Territory (that is Oklahoma) and has records from 1861 to the 1870s. The Freedmen’s Bureau created records at headquarters in Washington, DC, state records and field agents.

There are four sets of records:

1 Commissioner’s records

2 Assistant Commissioner records

3 Superintendent of Education records

4 Field office records (local)—normally the most useful. However, the commissioner’s records contain lists and reports such as two linear feet of marriage papers. Records from the field offices vary from state to state. Since most freedmen contacted the bureau at the local level, you will find the most genealogical data and clues in field office records

Arrangement

The Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Field Offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands: Record Group 105 by Elaine Everly and Willna Pacheli of the National Archives [FHL book 973 F23ea; fiche 6002638-40] describes the bureau’s records. They are organized alphabetically by state, thereunder by offices, and thereunder by county or town. Part One is about Alabama, Arkansas (including the Oklahoma Indian Territory), the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Part Two is about Maryland and Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Part Three is about Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and the Freedmen's branch at of the Adjutant General's Office. National Archives Identifier 434

Availability

Discover Freedmen Project

Help Index the Freedmen Bureau Records (Records of the Bureau of Freedmen Refugees and Abandoned Lands (record group 105)) on discoverfreedmen.org

Searchable Collections on FamilySearch

Index and Image Collections

Image Browse Collections


Most of the Freedmen's Bureau records have been microfilmed with the exception of some records from the Washington Headquarters. The Family History Library has acquired, the records that have been microfilmed.The microfilm numbers of these records can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog Keyword Search using the search phrase “Bureau of Refugees” www.FamilySearch.org Images of these records are also available.


Records of Bureau of Refugees, Freedman and Abandoned Lands and Freedman's Saving and Trust Company Available at the Family History Library
State Record Type Record Group NARA FamilySearch Catalog

First Film or Fiche #

Number of Films /Fiche Additional Reading
National Preliminary Inventory of Records of the Filed Offices Pt. 1 Alabama-Louisiana, Pt. 2 Maryland-South Carolina, and Pt. 3 Tennessee-Virginia 105 - FHL fiche 6002638 3 fiche - Inventory: Pt 1 Alabama-LouisianaPt 2 Maryland-South Carolina,Maryland-South CarolinaPt 3 Tennessee-Virginia

Select Series of Records issued by the Commissioner, 1865-1872 105 M742 FHL film 491550 7 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M742

Register and Letters Received by the Commissioner, 1865-1872 105 M752 FHL film 908680 74 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M752

Records of Education Division, 1865-1871 105 M803 FHL film 1695186 35 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M803

U.S. Court of Claims Docket Cards for Congressional Case Files, ca. 1884-1943 123 M2007 unavailable 5 rolls -

Marriage Records of Office of Commissioner, Washington Headquarters, 1861-1869 105 M1875 FHL film 2425252 5 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M1875

Alabama Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1850-1870 105 M809 FHL film 1612338 23 rolls

- Descriptive Pamphlet: M809



Records of Superintendent of Education, 1865-1870

105 M810 FHL film 1695841 8 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: FHL book: 973 J53m no. 810

Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1900 FHL film 2424719 34 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1900






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Arkansas Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869 105 M979 FHL film 1498698 52 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M979

Records of Superintendent of Education, 1865-1871 105 M980 FHL film 1695811 5 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M980

Records of Field Office,1865-1872 105 M1901 23 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1901






-
Delaware Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1906 FHL film 2424887 42 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1906






-
District of Columbia Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869 105 M1055 FHL film 1605536 21 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1055

Records of Superintendent of Education, 1865-1872 105 M1056 FHL film 1617650 24 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M1056

Records of Field Office,1863-1872 105 M1902 FHL film 2424776 21 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1902






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Florida Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872 105 M1869 FHL film 2425908 15 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1869






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Georgia Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869 105 M798 FHL film 1498626 36 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M798

Records of Superintendent of Education, 1865-1870 195 M799 FHL film 1685269 28 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M799

Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1903 FHL film 1574209 90 rolls -






-
Kentucky Records of Field Office. 1865-1872 105 M1904 FHL film 2425923 133 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M1904






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Louisiana Records of Superintendent of Education, 1865-1869 105 M1026 FHL film 1695273 12 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1026

Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869

105

M1027

FHL film 1498662 36 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1027

Records of Field Office, 1863-1873 105 M1905 FHL film 2426056 111 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1905
New Orleans, Louisiana Records of Field Office, 1865-1869 105 M1483 FHL film 1604921 10 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1483






-
Maryland Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1906 FHL film 2424887 42 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1906






--
Mississippi

Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1863-1869

105 M826 FHL film 1616440 50 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M826

Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1907 FHL film 2428148 65 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1907

Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1863-1865("Pre Bureau Records")

105 M1914 FHL film 2424701 5 rolls -






-
Missouri Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1908 FHL film 2426982 24 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1908






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North Carolina Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1862-1879 105 M843 FHL film 1616841 38 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M843

Records of Superintendent of Education, 1864-1869 105 M844 FHL film 1695567 16 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M844

Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1909 FHL film 2427006 78 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1909






-
South Carolina Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1870 105 M869 FHL film 1579188 44 rolls

Martin Abbott, The Freedman's Bureau in South Carolina, 1865-72. (Chapel Hill: university of North Carolina Press, 1967)

- Descriptive Pamphlet:M869



Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869 105 T999 FHL film 1616490 34 rolls -

Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1910 FHL 2427084 106 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M1910






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Tennessee Records of Superintendent of Education, 1865-1870 105 M1000 FHL film 1685219 9 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1000

Records of Field Office,1865-1872 105 M1911 FHL film 2427190 89 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M1911

Selected Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 T142 FHL film 1616879 73 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:

Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869

105 M999 FHL film 1616490 34 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M999






-
Texas Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869 105 M821 FHL film 1503542 32 rolls

Barry A. Crouch, Hidden Sources of Black History: The Texas Freedmen's Bureau Records as a Case Study. Southwestern Historical Quarterly 83 (1980): 211-26.

-Descriptive Pamphlet:M821



Records Superintendent of Education, 1865-1870 105 M822 FHL film 169516 18 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M822

Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1912 FHL film 2427279 28 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M1912






-
Virginia Records of Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1869 105 M1048 FHL film 1601562 67 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet:M1048

Records of Sup. of Education, 1865-1870 105 M1053 FHL film 1549578 20 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet: M1053

Records of Field Office, 1865-1872 105 M1913 FHL film 2413534 203 rolls - Descriptive Pamphlet M1913

Reference

  • Davis, Robert Scott Jr.,Freedmen's Bureau and Other Reconstruction Sources for Research in African-American Families, 1865-1874. Journal of the Afro-American Historical And Genealogical Societyy. Volume 9 No. 4.pg 171-176.
  • Bentley, George R. A History of the Freedmen's Bureau. Philadelphia: Octagon Books, 1970.WorldCat

Freedmen's Bureau Online

The Freedmen’s Bureau Online Internet site includes numerous online database indexes. Select among the variety of databases mostly based on locality or by topic such as marriages, labor contracts, or murders. However, this online site does not include all the available records from the Freedmen's Bureau.

Content

  • Records Relating to Murders
  • Records Relating to Freedmen's Labor
  • Marriage Records: Most of these records are divided up by the state, then by the area, and then by the marriage date, month, or year of marriage. (These records can be found on the homepage under the contents heading at the left of the screen.)
  • To find state-specific collections, go to the homepage and there is a list of states under the contents heading at the middle left of the screen. (Examples of some of these collections are: Alabama: Petition of Colored Citizens from Mobile, Alabama; Mississippi: Registers of Indentures of Colored Orphans, Aug. 1865 - May 1866; Tennessee: Index to Freedman's Labor Contracts between Tennessee Freedmen and employers in Kentucky.)

Using this site

Type a surname or name or term in question in the search site box. (Examples: Jones, Smith, etc. for surname searches OR land, marriages, etc. for keyword searches)

  1. Documents which seem a “best” match appears.
  2. Click on desired match.

Tips

  • This site lists many other search sites for African American histories and genealogy websites.
  • Their on-line bookstore carries many useful books of interest.

Related Web Sites

  • 1863-1878 - Freedmen's Bureau Records of Field Offices 1863-1878 index and images at Ancestry.com. This database contains about 102,010 personal names from field office records for Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, New Orleans, and North Carolina. Information available in the database includes: name, record type, year, and field office location. Family History Centers and the Family History Library have limited access to this index. There is a subscription fee for home use.



Wiki articles describing online collections are found at: