District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
District of Columbia, United States
United States flag.png
Flag of the United States of America
NARA seal300.jpg
Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Freedmen and Refugee Records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen,and Abandoned Lands
Collection years 1865-1872
Microfilm Publication M1902. Records of the Field Offices for the District of Columbia, Bureau of Refugees,Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. 21 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in the Collection?

This collection consists of scanned images of records from National Archives microfilm publication M1902,Records of the Field Offices for the District of Columbia, 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 Assistant Commissioner who oversaw Bureau operations in the state and state level staff officers; Commissary of Subsistence, Inspector General and Disbursing Officer, Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer, and Surgeon first then the local field office records are arranged alphabetically by location and by NARA roll number. The following link will provide a description of the record types found in this and other Freedmen’s Bureau collections.Freedmen's Bureau Record Types


To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872.

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.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Records with Freedmen and Refugee Names

  • Freedmen's Village: Roll 21, Register of people arriving at Freedmen's Village, Jan 1, 1867-June 27, 1868
  • Washington and Georgetown: Roll 19, Register of freedmen departing Mason's Island, VA, May 18, 1864-Jul 18, 1865
  • Superintendent of Marriages: Roll 12, Register of Marriages,Nov 1866-Jul 1867
  • Washington and Georgetown: Roll 18, Employment registers, Wisewell and East Capital Street Barracks, 1866-1868

For details about the contents of these records, their history, and help using them, see the wiki article: United States Freedmen’s Bureau Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

How Do I Search the Collection?

The Freedmen’s Bureau records are a major source of genealogical information about post Civil War African Americans. The records are also a good source to quickly identify a family group and residence. To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • Name of the individual
  • Approximate age or residence

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

You will be able to search this collection once it is published.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page

  1. Select Freedmen's Bureau Office or Subordinate Field Office Location
  2. Select NARA Roll Number-Contents

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

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

What Do I Do Next?

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Copy the citation below, in case you need to find this record again later.
  • Use the age or estimated birth date to find church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death records.
  • Use the information found in the record to find land, probate and immigration records.
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in censuses. Witnesses were usually family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records were kept years before counties began keeping records. They are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.


I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby town or county.
  • 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.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Check the info box above for additional FamilySearch websites and related websites that may assist you in finding similar records.


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

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:

“District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1902. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Record Citation

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872.


Image Citation

When looking at an image, the citation is found 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 District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872.

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