Bureau of Indian Affairs, Register of Families

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In the early 1890s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognized the need of having a record on each reservation which listed the residents of that reservation by family group. To meet this need, the “Register of Families” (also sometimes mistakenly called an Allotment Register, which is a separate record) was instituted.

This record was kept in a standard format in bound volumes and included the following information:

1. English Name
2. Indian Name
3. Marital Status
4. Age
5. Father’s Name, if living
6. Mother’s Name, if living
7. Uncles’ Names, if living
8. Aunts’ Names, if living
9. Brothers’ Names, if living
10. Sisters’ Names, if living
11. Wife’s Name, if living
12. Wife’s Age
13. Wife’s Father’s Name, if living
14. Wife’s Mother’s Name, if living
15. Wife’s Uncles’ Names, if living
16. Wife’s Aunts’ Names, if living
17. Wife’s Brothers’ Names, if living
18. Wife’s Sisters’ Names, if living
19. Number of Children
20. Allotment Number
21. Description of Allotment
22. Wife’s Allotment Number
23. Description of Wife’s Allotment
24. Names of Children
25. Age of Children
26. Children’s Allotment Numbers
27. Description of Children’s Allotments

Apparently the accuracy of these records was relied upon quite heavily by the BIA agents, for they seem to be used for determining degrees of relationship upon which fractional interests of land titles were issued in heirship cases under the General Allotment Act of 1887.

Most of the “Registers of Families” are still housed in the individual Agency Offices. A few have been transferred to the National Archives or one of NARA’s regional archives. Some of those thus transferred to the NARA System may be duplicates of the original volumes in the Agency Offices.

See also:

History of Indigenous Peoples of the United States

Allotment Records for Indigenous Peoples of the United States