African American Resources for Montana

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

  • 1846-1867 U.S., Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records, 1846-1867 at ($)
  • 1861-1872 United States, Freedmen's Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872 at FamilySearch
  • 1865-1874 Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1874 at FamilySearch
  • African American Digital Bookshelf - a growing list of digital books on FamilySearch and other websites
  • Discover Freedmen - this site searches all of the Freedmen's Bureau record collections on FamilySearch altogether (and redirects there)
  • Montana’s African American Heritage Resources
  • Research Strategy[edit | edit source]

    History[edit | edit source]

    Although African Americans have only ever totaled less than one percent of the state's population, they have played a role in its history since the beginning. The first African Americans in Montana worked as in the fur trade. More African Americans came in the following decades to obtain homesteads. In 1866, Congress authorized the creation of six all-African-American regiments, dubbed "Buffalo Soldiers" who served in various forts in Montana. In 1870, 183 African Americans lived in Montana Territory. This number increased to 346 by 1880. African Americans worked in hotels, clubs, restaurants, and on the railroad. The St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1888 and the Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1891. By 1890, 1,490 African Americans lived in Montana. Montana's first black newspaper, The Colored Citizen, was published in 1894. By 1900, 1,523 African Americans lived in Montana. By 1930, 1,256 African Americans were living in Montana. In 1933, nearly 1,000 African Americans came to work in the Kootenai National Forest as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. However, national and local concern over integrated CCC camps led to their departure in 1934. The Malmstrom Air Force Base was built in 1942 near Great Falls, leading to more African American migration into Montana. For more information, see Montana’s African American Heritage Resources.

    Resource: Thompson, Lucille Smith and Alma Smith Jacobs. The Negro In Montana, 1800-1945: A selective Bibliography / - Helena : Montana State Library, 1970. - 23 p. Z1361,B39 T53

    Resources[edit | edit source]

    Biographies[edit | edit source]

    Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

    Census Records[edit | edit source]

    Church Records[edit | edit source]

    Emancipation Records[edit | edit source]

    Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

    Genealogies[edit | edit source]

    Land and Property[edit | edit source]

    Plantation[edit | edit source]

    Oral Histories[edit | edit source]

    Other Records[edit | edit source]

    Military Records[edit | edit source]

    Newspapers[edit | edit source]

    Probate Records[edit | edit source]

    Reconstruction Records[edit | edit source]

    Freedman’s Bank[edit | edit source]

    An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (visit the African American Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records page to learn more). 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.

    Online collections of Freedman's Bank records:

    Freedmen's Bureau[edit | edit source]

    The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created by the US government in 1865 until 1872 to assist former slaves in the southern United States. The Bureau created a wide variety of records extremely valuable to genealogists. Such documents include censuses, marriage records, and medical records. These records often include full names, former masters and plantations, and current residences.[1] For 1865 and 1866, the section on abandoned and confiscated lands includes the names of the owners of the plantations or homes that were abandoned, confiscated, or leased. It gives the county and location, a description of the house, the number of acres owned, and the number of cabins of former slaves. These films do not appear to contain the names of former slaves.

    To find Freedmen's Bureau records:

    Other FamilySearch collections not included:

    Visit the African American Freedmen's Bureau Records page to learn more about utilizing these records.

    School Records[edit | edit source]

    Slavery Records[edit | edit source]

    Vital Records[edit | edit source]

    Birth[edit | edit source]

    Marriage[edit | edit source]

    The Freedmen's Bureau (1865-1872) was created by the US government to assist former slaves in the southern United States. One of their responsibilities was to record the marriages (past and present) of the former slaves. These records can be found in the collections below and include the lists of marriages that occurred previously, marriage certificates, and marriage licenses. The information contained on the records may include the name of the husband and wife/groom and bride, age, occupation, residence, year or date of marriage, by whom, number of children, and remarks.

    • Montana Marriages, 1889-1947 - information may include the bride and groom’s name, birth place, age, parents, race, and marriage date and place
    • Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1987 - information may include the bride and groom’s name, residence, parents, birth place, age, race, marital status, and marriage date and place

    Death[edit | edit source]

    Divorce[edit | edit source]

    Voting Registers[edit | edit source]

    Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

    Societies[edit | edit source]

    References[edit | edit source]

    1. "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.