African American Resources for Alabama

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Help Index Freedmen's Bureau Records
Help yourself and others find their African American ancestors by participating in the Discover Freedmen Indexing Project. June 19th Press Conference

Archives and Libraries

Alabama Department of Archives and History
P.O. Box 300100 / 624 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-4435

J.F. Drake Memorial Learning Resources Center
Alabama A & M University
Box 489
Normal, AL 35762
Phone: (205) 851-5760

Samford University Library
Samford University 800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
Questions or Comments: 205-726-2748
Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)

Birmingham Public Library: Collections and Research
Birmingham Public Library
Department of Archives & Manuscripts
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, Alabama USA 35203
Phone:(205) 226-3631

Pre-Civil War records

slave importation declarations, plantation records, emancipation records, apprenticeship bonds for freedmen, Alabama hiring practices, census records, plantation owners’ family records, church and cemetery records, military records, and Alabama court records.

Plantation records

Some plantation records mention slaves. The Family History Library has many plantation records on microfilm. These records are described in a series of booklets by Kenneth M. Stampp. Guides for Series A–M are available at the Family History Library:

  • Stampp, Kenneth M., ed.A Guide to Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War: Series A–M, Selections from the Manuscript Department, Duke University Library. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1986. ( Family History Library book 975 H2sm.) The Family History Library has microfilms of most of the records described in the guide. Alabama plantation records are scattered throughout.

For example, the booklet for Series F describes records of many plantations in Alabama and other states of the Deep South. The records were microfilmed at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. They are:

  • Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution Through the Civil War: Series F, Selections from the Manuscript Department, Duke University Library. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1986–1987. (On 84 Family History Library films beginning with 1549774.)

For a history of slavery in Alabama, see:
Sellers, James Benson. Slavery in Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1950, 1994. (Family History Library book 976.1 F2s.) This 426 page book includes a bibliography, on pages 399–409.

Records of African-Americans may be listed as "colored" in birth, marriage and death records. See Alabama Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for those records

Civil War Records

A record was made of men of African descent who served in the Confederate Army:
Alabama. Department of Archives and History. Negroes in the Confederate Army, 1860–1907. (Family History Library film 1653243 item 4.) This source lists the name of the soldier and his duty. It may indicate the name of the slave owner, the date of pay, master’s place of residence, where the soldier served in the military, and his military expenses.

Post-Civil War

Freedman's Records

An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company. 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.

Alabama had a branch of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company in Huntsville and Mobile. In each city depositors are listed by account number. The records are in:

  • Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Huntsville, Alabama), Registers of Signatures of Depositors, 1865–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. (Family History Library film 928571.)
  • Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Mobile, Alabama). Registers of Signatures of Depositors, 1867–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. (Family History Library film 928572 .)
Freedmen’s Bureau

United States:Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Records of the Assistant Commissioner for Alabama, 1865–1869. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0809. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969. (Family History Library films 1612338–60.)There is an ongoing effort to index these records. For more information please follow the link to the article about the Bureau. These records do contain the names of slaves and the names of white southerners who were displaced by the war. They are very valuable to African American researchers.

For 1865 and 1866, the section on abandoned and confiscated lands (Family History Library film 1612358 ) 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.

The records for Alabama can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog Subject Search under:

Slaves are sometimes mentioned in deeds (see "Land and Property"), wills (see "Probate Records"), tax records (see "Taxation"), and court order books (see "Court Records") under their owner’s name. A few parish registers (see "Church Records") list slaves who attended church with their masters.

Reconstruction Era (1868-1877)

Jim Crow Era (1859-1964)


Several biographical dictionaries, compendia, and histories may contain information you need, for example:

Black Biographical Dictionaries, 1790–1950. Alexandria, Virginia: Chadwyck-Healy, 1980. (On 1070 Family History Library fiche beginning with 6049870.) This publication is sometimes referred to as "The Black Biography Project." Three of the sources included in this collection are:

Bothe, Charles Octavius. The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama: Their Leaders and Their Work. Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Alabama Publishing, 1895. (Family History Library fiche 6078965 [set of 3].) This book contains biographies, birth dates, parents’ names, and sometimes pictures. It also provides information on associations and state conventions.

Mixon, Winfield Henri. History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Alabama, with Biographical Sketches. Selma, Alabama: A.M.E. Church Sunday School Union, 1902. (Family History Library fiche 6079113 [set of 3].) This book provides pictures, church minutes and history, and speeches. There is no index.

Moorman, Joseph H. and E. L. Barrett. Leaders of the Colored Race in Alabama. Mobile, Alabama: News Publishing, [198–?]. (Family History Library fiche 6079115 [set of 2].) This source contains biographical sketches with birth dates, educational information, a history of each minister’s service, and a history of churches. It includes an index.

Church Records

St.Bartley Primitive Baptist Church [Huntsville] (1808- ) History

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church [Montgomery] (1883- )History

Military Records

Military records of Alabama

Civil War

1862: Over 10,000 Alabama freedmen served as Union Soldiers
World War II (1941-1945)

  • Combat Connected Naval Causalities, World War II, by States. Two Volumes. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946. (Family History Library .) This source is alphabetically arranged by state, then within the state by dead, missing, wounded, Prisoner of War (POW), died or killed while a POW, and POWs released.
  • Tuskegee Airmen An estimated 16,000 to 19,000 airmen including mechanics, parachute riggers and support staff were involved.
  • For photos of Tuskegee Airmen


Slave Narratives


  • Online Records of Black Belt African American Genealogical Historical Society, Inc.


Vital Records


Alabama African American Marriages
Alabama Genealogy Project