United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner - FamilySearch Historical Records

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United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872  and North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870
CID2427901
CID1803698
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.

United States
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US Flag 1863-1865 (35 stars)
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Record Description
Record Type Freedmen and Refugee Records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
Collection years 1865-1872
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


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

The collection consists of images of records of the Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) which 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 legal and financial matters including the distributing of food and clothing; operating temporary medical facilities; acquiring military benefits such as 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 intent of the Bureau was to help people to become self-sufficient.


Administrative Histories: Office of the Assistant Commissioner - National Archives


Related Sources

Assistant Commissioner records National Archive microfilm publications' included in this publication


Field Office Records published on FamilySearch.

Tennessee Assistant Commissioner

Publication Notes

  • Tennessee: Roll 7, Registers of letters received, H-L, 1865. Images 1-13 is a census of freedmen at Tunnel Hill, dated August 1865 images 1 -13. Includes name, age, residence, former masters name. Click this link to go to the first image of the census.

Florida Field Office Records[edit | edit source]

  • Florida Field Office Records were filmed with the Florida Assistant Commissioner Records:
  • Florida, Field Office Records see Freedman’s Bureau Florida Field Office Personnel Coverage Table
  • Records with Freedmen and Refugee Names:
    • Reports: Roll 9, Monthly Reports of Abandoned or Confiscated Lands
    • Reports: Roll 10, Unregistered Monthly Reports of Homesteads Located by Bureau Agents
    • Other Records, Rolls Records Relating to Restoration of Property
    • Other Records, Roll 11, Applications of Freedmen for Rations, Acre-Owens
    • Other Records, Roll 12, Applications of Freedmen for Rations, Page-Young
    • Claims Agent, Roll 14, Register of Bounty Claimants
    • Jacksonville, Roll 14, Register of Freedmen Issued Rations
    • Quincy, Roll 15, Register of Freedmen Issued Rations
    • Tallahassee, Roll 15, Records Relating to Court Trials; Register of Freedmen Issued Rations

Related Collections

FamilySearch Catalog

FamilySearch Historical Records


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

The United States Freedmen's Bureau, records of the Office of the Assistant Commissioner identifies African Americans 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. 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

The Bureau functioned as an agency of the War Department from approximately June 1865 until December 1868, and 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. In 1872, the functions of the Bureau were transferred to the Freedmen’s Branch of the Adjutant General’s Office.

These records include, letters and registers of letters sent and received, reports, endorsements, telegrams, issuances, 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.

National Museum of African American History & Culture[edit | edit source]

The museum is working with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and volunteers to transcribe the records of the Bureau.

For additional information about the Freedman's Bureau and the microfilm publications included in this collection visit the African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau page of the NARA African American Heritage Collection.

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 This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872.
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.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The records usually include:

  • Name of the freedman
  • Name of the freedman’s former owner
  • Date of the record
  • Birthplace
  • Residence
  • Age
  • Document dates

Collection Contents[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

Record Types[edit | edit source]

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

Officers 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

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 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 Field Office Personnel 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]

United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872

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

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

View the Images[edit | edit source]

United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872

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

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

View images in this collection by visiting the Collection Browse Page:
  1. 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]

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

  • Add any new information to your records
  • Check the image the index was taken from to see if there is additional information that could lead you to additional records or family members (Witnesses or bondsmen were usually relatives)
  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record entry for future reference
  • Use the age to calculate a birth date and to find other records such as birth, christening, census, land and death records
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900

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

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc
  • Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname to help you identify possible relations
  • Try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search
  • Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images
  • 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
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names; try searching for these names as well
  • Search the indexes and records of United States Genealogy
  • Search in the United States Archives and Libraries

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the United States.

Other FamilySearch Collections[edit | edit source]

These collections may have additional materials to help you with your research.

FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

Field Offices

FamilySearch Digital Library[edit | edit source]

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872[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.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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