African American Records

Select Images from Freedmen's Bureau Records

The Bureau confronted the basic and urgent needs of freedpeople, as shown by these sample documents, all cited below by microfilm series.

Freedmen's Bureau Main Page

Mobs and Outrages

Report to Brig. Gen. John Ely on Outrages Committed by "Regulators" on Freedmen in Kentucky, 1867

"Butcher (freeman) . . . was assaulted, threatened, and driven from his home, for giving information to the agents of the Bureau, . . . Ceasar Crowddus (Freedman) was severely whipped for refusing to give information to the mob."

Kentucky, Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Inspection Reports Received Concerning Freedmen Conditions and the Operations of the Bureau in Kentucky.
M1904, roll 48


Hawkins Wilson to "Chief of the Freedmen's Bureau, at Richmond," VA, May 11, 1867

"I am anxious to learn about my sisters, from whom I have been separated many years__I have never heard from them since I left Virginia twenty four years ago__I am in hopes that they are still living and I am anxious to hear how they are getting on__"

Virginia, Bowling Green, Caroline County, Letters Received
M1913, roll 58

Labor Contract

Labor Contract Between Abraham Bledsoe and Henry Bledsoe (freedman), commencing January 19, 1866

"I am to furnish . . . quarters, fuel, substantial and healthy rations, and the amount set opposite His name, per month."

Kentucky, Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Other Records, Labor Contracts, 1866
M1904, roll 64

Marriage Certificate

Marriage Certificate of Thomas Harris and Jane Harris (Shute) Issued April 28, 1866

"I have this day united Thomas Harris and Jane Harris (Shute), colored, in the bonds of matrimony, they having been living together as man and wife for about Fifteen years past, and have had, as the result, the following children, viz:"

Tennessee, Lebanon, Wilson County, sent to Freedmen's Bureau Headquarters,
Washington, DC
M1875, roll 4


H.R. 613, An Act to Continue in Force a "Bureau for the relief of Freedmen and Refugees," June 11, 1866

Records of the U.S. Senate,
RG 46

Medical Record

"Women and children vaccinated and capable"

Beaufort (Contraband Department), South Carolina
M1910, roll 62


Teacher's Monthly Report, Little Rock, Arkansas, March 24, 1865

"Number enrolled: 65 males, 96 females, 161 total . . . Number who pay full tuition fees, 17 males, 36 females, 53 total."

- Arkansas, Little Rock Superintendent of Freedmen, Narrative School Reports from Teachers
M1901, roll 16


"Colored Census," Huntsville and Athens, Alabama, ca. 1865

Census of black residents at Huntsville and Athens, Alabama, ca. 1865, listing name, age, sex, street, former owner, occupation, and county.

Alabama, Huntsville and Athens (Claims Agent), Census of Black Citizens
M1900, roll 19


Land Order for Richard Brown, April 1, 1865

". . . permission is hereby granted to Richard Brown to take possession of and occupy forty acres of land, situated in St. Andrews Parish, Island of James."

South Carolina, Berkley District, Labor Contracts
M1910, roll 62

Relief (Rations)

Rations Issued at Fort Smith, Arkansas, in June and July 1867

"Names of person, no. of adults and children, Dates of issue, no. of days, no. of lbs. of bacon and corn, and Remarks [race]."

Arkansas, Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Register of Persons Drawing Rations
M1901, roll 8

Bureau Administration

Freedmen's Right to Vote, May 1, 1867

". . . measures will be taken as will inform all Freedmen entitled to be registered, of the necessity for, and the time and place of registration, and the time and place of voting."

Virginia, Jerusalem (Southampton County), Letters and Orders Received
M1913, roll 97


Plan for a Virginia Classroom, undated

- Virginia, Warrenton (Assistant Subassistant Commissioner), School Reports
M1913, roll 178

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