Arkansas, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Arkansas, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872 .
This article describes a collection of records at
Arkansas, United States
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Record Description
Record Type Freedmen and Refugee Records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands,1865-1872
Collection years 1865-1872
Microfilm Publication M1901. Records of the Field Offices for the State of Arkansas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. 23 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives and Records Administration

What Is in the Collection?

This collection consists of scanned images of records from National Archives microfilm publication M1901Records of the Field Offices for the State of Arkansas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands which is part of Record Group 105 Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands.

The images are generally arranged in the order the records were microfilmed with the records of the state level staff officers; Claims Division, Chief Disbursing Officer and Claims Agent, first then the local field office records are arranged alphabetically by location and by NARA roll number.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Arkansas, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872.

Collection Content

Sample Images

  • Records with Freedmen and Refugee Names:
  • Arkansas, Chief Disbursing Officer and Claims Agent: Roll 6, Registers of Claimants 3 vols.
  • Arkadelphia, Clark County: Roll 6, Registers of Complaints, Labor Contracts and Marriages
  • Augusta, Woodruff County: Roll 6, Registers of Labor Contracts, Legal Papers
  • Batesville, Independence County: Roll 6, Monthly Reports of Persons and Articles Hired, Court Writs, Summons, and Other Legal Papers Contracts
  • Camden, Ouchita County: Roll 7, Register of Labor Contracts, Register of School Children and Register of Attendance of School Children, Affidavits and Depositions, Register of Complaints
  • Lewisburg, Conway County: Roll 7, Labor Contracts, Amnesty Oaths and Marriage Certificates, Affidavits and Petitions
  • Devall’s Bluff, Prairie County: Roll 8, Reports of Persons and Articles Hired
  • Fort Smith, Sebastian County: Roll 8, Register of Labor Contracts, Register of Application for Restoration of Property, Register of Marriages, and Register of Persons Drawing Rations
  • Fort Smith, Sebastian County: Roll 9, Register of Refugees Issued Rations, Register of Rebel Property in Counties Subject to Confiscation
  • Hamburg, Ashley County: Roll 10, Registers of Complaints and Contracts
  • Helena, Phillips County: Roll 11, Register of Claimants
  • Jacksonport, Upper White River District: Roll 11, Register of Contracts
  • Jacksonport, Jackson County: Roll 12, Affidavits and Court Papers, Register of Contracts and Register of Marriages, Register of Complaints
  • Lake Village and Luna Landing, Chicot County: Roll 12, Register of Contracts and Register of Major Landholders
  • Lewisville, Lafayette County: Roll 14, Register of Complaints
  • Little Rock, Pulaski County: Roll 14, Registers of Complaints and Marriages, Register of Freedmen Employed on Plantations
  • Little Rock, Pulaski County: Roll 15, Employment Registers 3 volumes
  • Madison, St. Francis County: Roll 16, Registers of Complaints and Contracts, Court Papers
  • Magnolia: Roll 16, Affidavits of Freedmen
  • Monticello: Roll 17, Register of Contracts for Bradley County, Court Papers and Reports
  • Napoleon, Desha County: Roll 17, Register of Complaints
  • Osceola, Mississippi County: Roll 18, Registers of Claims, Marriages, Contracts and Indentures, Register of Complaints
  • Ozark: Roll 18, Register of Destitute Citizens of Franklin and Johnson Counties Issued Rations
  • Paraclifta, Sevier County: Roll 18, Orders Sent to Local Citizens, Register of Marriages and Copies of Indentures, Register of Complaints, Register of Employees and Employers
  • Pine Bluff: Roll 19, Reports of Persons and Articles Hired
  • Pine Bluff, Jefferson County: Roll 21, Register & Certificates of Marriage, Register of Abandoned Property, Record of Account Book of Mrs. Bayner’s Plantation
  • Princeton, Dallas County: Roll 22, Contracts and Monthly Statements of Property
  • South Bend: Roll 22, Orders Issued to Local Citizens, Proceedings of Cases
  • Washington, Hemstead County: Roll 23, Registers of Contracts, and Complaints, Marriage Certificates

What Can These Records Tell Me?

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 M1901, Records of the Field Offices for the State of Arkansas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872.

The records usually include:

  • Name of the freedman
  • Name of the freedman’s former owner
  • Date of the record
  • Birthplace
  • Residence
  • Age
  • Bride
  • Groom
  • Marriage date
  • Marriage place

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know at least some of the following:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The age of your ancestor.
  • The residence of your ancestor.
  • The name of the former slave owner.

Compare the information on the image to what you already know about your ancestor to determine if it is the correct family or person. You may need to compare several images before you find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page then:
⇒Select the "Freedmen's Bureau Office or Subordinate Field Office Location" category
⇒Select the "NARA Roll Number-Contents" category

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found Who I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, census, land and death records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of Arkansas, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the Arkansas Archives and Libraries.

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.

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Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"Arkansas, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1864-1872." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2017. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1901. Washington, D.C.: National Archive and Records Administration, n.d.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Arkansas, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1864-1872.

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