African American Resources for Arkansas

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Introduction

This guide focuses on sources that are specific to the African American experience in Arkansas. Check out the Arkansas and African American guides on FamilySearch.org as well.

Online Resources

Research Strategy

Follow the strategies described on the African American Genealogy page.

History

Resources

Biographies

Cemeteries

Census Records

Church Records

  • Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church records (1944-1983) are located in the state archives (Arkansas History Commission). This collection contains the church board, treasurer, and Sunday school records of the Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), of Sweet Home, Arkansas, 1944-1983.
  • First Missionary Baptist Church [Little Rock] (1845- ) History
  • Clark, John Franklin. A Brief History of Negro Baptists in Arkansas: A Story of Their Progress and Development, 1867-1939. Pine Bluff, Ark.: [s.n.], 1938. At various libraries (WorldCat).

Emancipation Records

Funeral Homes

Genealogies

Land and Property

Visit the Arkansas Land and Property page to learn more about land records and how to access them. Check the deed book indexes for the years before 1865 for enslaved people listed in the "Description" column. Most county courthouse deed books are digitized on FamilySearch.org. Search the FamilySearch Catalog by county.

Plantation

Oral Histories

Other Records

Military Records

Newspapers

Probate Records

Visit the Arkansas Probate Records page to learn more about probate in Arkansas and how to find them. Pre-1865 records could contain the names of enslaved people from the slaveowner's probate records.

Reconstruction Records

Freedman’s Bank

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.

Online collections of Freedman's Bank records:

Freedmen's Bureau

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:

Additional Resources:

School Records

Slavery Records

  • Slavery in Arkansas: A Resource for Genealogists. Features Arkansas Slave Names, a searchable, downloadable spreadsheet containing the names of enslaved people, the slaveholders, county, and date and abstract of document.
  • Works Project Administration. Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Arkansas Narratives, Parts 1–7. Digital version at Internet Archive made available by Project Gutenberg.
  • Taylor, Orville W. Negro Slavery in Arkansas. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press, 2000. FHL book 976.77 F2t At various libraries (WorldCat).
  • George Berry Washington, Black Plantation Owner. By Iroquois Research Institute prepared for Historic Preservation Associates. - Fairfax, Va.: The Institute, 1981. - iv, 84 leaves: ill. F415.C9 W373
  • Burton, Arthur T. Black, Buckskin and Blue: African American Scouts and Soldiers on the Western Frontier. Austin, Texas: Eaton Press, 1999. FHL book 978 F2b At various libraries (WorldCat).

Vital Records

Birth

Marriage

Death

Divorce

Voting Registers

Archives and Libraries

Visit the Arkansas Archives and Libraries page to learn more about archives and libraries in Arkansas.

Societies

AAHGS Arkansas Chapter
Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS)
P.O. Box 4294
Little Rock, AR 72214
Website: AAHGS

A Museum of African American History
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
501 W. Ninth Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Telephone: (501) 683-3593
Website: Mosaic Templars Center

Black History Commission of Arkansas
Arkansas State Archives
2B215, 2nd Floor, 1 Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201
Website: BHCA

References

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