African American Resources for Michigan

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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 Ancestry ($)
  • 1861-1872 United States, Freedmen's Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872 at FamilySearch
  • 1865-1874 Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1874 at FamilySearch
  • African American Digital Bookshelf - a growing list of digital books on FamilySearch and other websites
  • Discover Freedmen - this site searches all of the Freedmen's Bureau record collections on FamilySearch altogether (and redirects there)
  • Negroes in Michigan during the Civil War at Ancestry ($)
  • Slavery petitions and papers at Ancestry ($)
  • University of Detroit Mercy Black Abolitionist Archives
  • Research Strategy[edit | edit source]

    History[edit | edit source]

    In the 1796 Detroit census both slaves and free African Americans are listed. The abolitionist movement was strong and the part of a "underground railroad" ran through Michigan. In 1855 the state passed a "personal liberty law" blocking the recovery of fugitive slaves. The automobile industry attracted African Americans to Detroit in the 1900s.[1]

    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.[2] 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]

    • Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925 - lists marriage date and place and the bride and groom’s name, race, residence, age, birthplace, occupation, and witnesses

    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.

    Death[edit | edit source]

    • Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995 - information may include name, gender, death date and place, burial date and place, age, birth date and place, race, marital status, spouse, and parents
    • Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897 - lists name, death date, gender, race, marital status, age, death place, cause of death, birthplace, occupation, and parents and their residence

    Divorce[edit | edit source]

    Voting Registers[edit | edit source]

    Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

    Digital Archive: Brown v. Board of Education
    University of Michigan Library
    818 Hatcher Graduate Library South
    913 S. University Avenue
    Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
    Phone: (734) 764-0400
    Email: contact-mlibrary@umich.edu

    Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
    315 East Warren Avenue
    Detroit, MI 48201
    Phone: (313) 494-5800

    Societies[edit | edit source]

    The Burton Historical Collection has African American records. For further reading, see:

    • Melvin E. Banner, Black Pioneer in Michigan (Midland, Mich.: Pendall Publ., 1973. WorldCat entry.
    • Reginald Larrie, Black Experiences in Michigan History. Lansing, Mich.: MI History Div., 1975. WorldCat entry.
    • State Archives of Michigan, Circular No. 29, African-Americans. Lansing, Mich.: SAM, 2002.

    The Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society
    471 W. South Street, Suite 42A
    Kalamazoo, MI 49007
    Phone: (269) 381-9775

    References[edit | edit source]

    1. Alice Eichholz, ed., Red book : American state, county and town sources (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 343. (FHL 973 D27rb). WorldCat entry.
    2. "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.