African American Resources for Michigan

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African American Resources

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Introduction

Online Resources

Research Strategy

History

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

Biographies

Cemeteries

Census Records

Church Records

Emancipation Records

Funeral Homes

Genealogies

Land and Property

Plantation

Oral Histories

Other Records

Military Records

Newspapers

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. 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

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

Slavery Records

Vital Records

Birth

Marriage

  • 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

  • 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

Voting Registers

Archives and Libraries

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

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

  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.