Alabama Minorities

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Alabama Minorities

Most research on minorities consists of consulting the same types of records as research for non-minorities. The purpose of this section is to identify a few special sources that influence research on minority families in Alabama.

Records and histories of minorities and ethnic groups may provide clues to immigrant origins, migration information, and previous residences. Some records, histories, and periodicals of African-Americans, Germans, Jews, and others are available at the Family History Library.

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Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

African Americans

Resources for African-American research fall into two periods: pre-and post-Civil War. Post-Civil War research consists of consulting the same record types you would use to research non–African-Americans. Pre-Civil War records consist of slave importation declarations, plantation records, emancipation records, apprenticeship bonds for freedmen, Alabama hiring practices, census records, plantation owners’ family records, church and cemetery records, military records, and Alabama court records.

Online Resources for African-American Research

Census Records

African Americans are identified in the 1866 Census.

Church Records

Booth, Charles Octavius. The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama: Their leaders and their work. Birmingham: Alabama Pub. Co., 1895. - 267 p.: ill. BX6444.A6 B6

Freedman's Bank Records

An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company. This company was created to assist African-American soldiers of the Civil War and freed slaves. Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers from 3 March 1865 to 25 July 1874 may list the name of the depositor, date of entry, age, birthplace, residence, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband’s name, death information, children’s names, name of father and mother, brothers’ and sisters’ names, remarks, and signature. Early books sometimes contained the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. Copies of death certificates were sometimes attached to the entries. The collection is organized alphabetically by state, then city where the bank was located, then date the account was established, then account number.

Alabama Freedman Bank Records
Example of a Freedman's Bank record.

Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Huntsville, Alabama), Registers of Signatures of Depositors, 1865–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. FHL film 928571
Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Mobile, Alabama). Registers of Signatures of Depositors, 1867–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. FHL film 928572

Freedman’s Bureau. Additional government records


Plantation and Land Records

Slaves are sometimes mentioned in deeds (see "Land and Property"), wills (see "Probate Records"), tax records (see "Taxation"), and court order books (see "Court Records") under their owner’s name. A few parish registers (see "Church Records") list slaves who attended church with their masters.

Plantation Records

For example, the booklet for Series F describes records of many plantations in Alabama and other states of the Deep South. The records were microfilmed at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina.
Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution Through the Civil War: Series F, Selections from the Manuscript Department, Duke University Library. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1986–1987. FHL films beginning with 1549774 (first of 84 films.


Several biographical dictionaries, compendia, and histories may contain information you need, for example:

History of Slavery in Alabama


Military records of Alabama

Civil War

Over 10,000 Alabama freedmen served as Union Soldiers as well as in the Confederate Army.

Alabama. Department of Archives and History. Negroes in the Confederate Army, 1860–1907. (Family History Library FHL film 1653243 item 4. This source lists the name of the soldier and his duty. It may indicate the name of the slave owner, the date of pay, master’s place of residence, where the soldier served in the military, and his military expenses.

World War II (1941-1945)

Vital Records

Records of African-Americans may be listed as "colored" in birth, marriage and death records. See Alabama Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for those records.

FamilySearch has begun to digitize colored Alabama marriage books: Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950. As of 6 August 2012, some books from Baldwin, Bullock, Crenshaw, Dallas, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile, Morgan, Pike, and St. Clair counties have been digitized and indexed.[1]


Taylor, Frazine K. Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama A Resource Guide. Montgomery, Alabama: New South Books. 2008.

Italian Immigrants

Italian immigrants settled in Birmingham in the early 20th century. For a list of books and articles about these families, see Alabama History: An Annotated Bibliography mentioned in Alabama History.


See also United States Minorities for additional resources.

Other records and histories of ethnic, racial, and religious groups in Alabama are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


You will also find records in the Subject Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:



  1. Coverage Table, "Alabama County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)," FamilySearch Research Wiki,, accessed 6 August 2012.
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