North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872  and North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870
CID2143119
CID1803698
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
North Carolina, 
United States
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Record Description
Record Type Freedmen and Refugees Records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
Collection years 1865-1872
Microfilm Publication M1909. Records of the Field Offices for the State of North Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872. 78 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection consists of scanned images of records from National Archives microfilm publication M1909 Records of the Field Offices for the State of North Carolina, 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; Superintendent of Education, Inspector, Chief Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer, Surgeon, first then the local field office records are arranged alphabetically by location and by NARA roll number.

Hospitals were established by the Freedmen’s Bureau in Raleigh, Newberne, Beaufort, Roanoke Island, Kinston, Wilmington, Salisbury and Charlotte. Smallpox hospitals were also established in Beaufort, New Bern, Raleigh, Greensboro and Wilmington.

Records with Freedmen and Refugee Names

Also available is a field office personnel coverage table which shows where the field offices in North Carolina were located, the names of the employees, what office they held, and the dates they served. See: Freedmen's Bureau North Carolina Field Office Coverage Table.

On March 2, 1867 Congress created five military districts in the Southern States. Some of the records of these military districts found in Record Group 393 may relate to records of the Freedmen's Bureau. The links below to the National Archives Catalog will provide a history of the second district and links to record descriptions.

General Information about Freedmen's Bureau Records[edit | edit source]

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 Article

  • Sharon Batiste Gillins.A Window into the lives of black and white ancestors: Freedmen's Bureau field office records. NGS Magazine 39 #1 (January-March 2013): 34-38.
  • Sharon Batiste Gillins. Navigating Freedmen's Bureau Records for Research Success NGS Magazine 47 #2 (April-June 2021): 27-35.

Related Digital Images - National Archives Catalog

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

To Browse These Collections[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for North Carolina, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872.
You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870.

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

Record Types

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) created many different record types necessary 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.

  • 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

Officer's Manual

The War Department published an Officer's Manual to assist bureau personnel in the records that were required to be keep in bureau offices.

The following Wiki articles are transcriptions of portions of the manual


Inventory

Collection descriptions for the browse images may be located in either the published National Archives preliminary inventory with the "Entry No." or the National Archives Catalog Online Public Access Catalog "OPA." with the National Archives Identifier "NAID" number. To see the inventory, click on the following link. Inventory

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate age of your ancestor
  • The place where your ancestor lived
  • The name of the former slave owner
  • Locate your ancestor in the 1870 Census. Most local Bureau activities ended (except from claims and education) in December 1868.
  • Check the records of the local field office in the area(s) where you believe your ancestor lived between June 1865 and December 1868.
  • Determine, if possible, the name of the former owner. The 1860 Slave Schedule may be helpful. Also consider searching the 1860 and 1870 Agricultural Schedules.
  • The Bureau created many different types of records. Review the record types in the Collection Content Collection Content section in this article.
  • While searching Bureau records remember to search other records of the local government, including marriage and court records and especially the 1867 or later voter registrations.
  • Consider ancestors who may have been employed as a civilian agent or served as local agent while still in the military. Look for statewide rosters of bureau personnel in the records of Assistant Commissioners and the Freedmen's Bureau North Carolina Field Office Coverage Table for this state. Others may have worked with aid associations or taught school supported by aid associations in the north.
  • Freedmen would have determined what their name would be and may have changed it multiple times.

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870

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

North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872

This collection does not have a searchable index. Only images are available. See View the Images to access them.

View the Images[edit | edit source]

North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870

View images in this collection by visiting the Collection Browse Page:
  1. Select Freedmen's Bureau Office or Subordinate Field Location
  2. Select NARA Roll Number - Contents to view the images

North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872

View images in this collection by visiting the Collection Browse Page:
  1. Select Freedmen's Bureau Office or Subordinate Field Location
  2. Select NARA Roll Number - Contents to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

When you have located your ancestor in the Freedmen's Bureau records, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use the place of residence, age, and other information for each person to search for the individuals in census records
  • Use the information found to search for the family in church records
  • Use the information found to search for the family in land records
  • Use the information found to search for the family in probate records
  • Use the information found to search for the family in additional state and county records

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name
  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor
  • 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

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of North Carolina.

FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Digital Library[edit | edit source]

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.