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District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
District of Columbia, United States
United States flag.png
Flag of the United States of America
Flag of the United State (1863-1865).png
US Flag 1863-1865 (35 stars)
NARA logo circular black on white.jpg
National Archives and Records Administration Logo
Record Description
Record Type Freedmen and Refugee Records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen,and Abandoned Lands
Collection years 1863-1872
Microfilm Publication M1902. Records of the Field Offices for the District of Columbia, Bureau of Refugees,Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. 21 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


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

This collection consists of scanned images of records from National Archives microfilm publication M1902,Records of the Field Offices for the District of Columbia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands which is part of Record Group 105 Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands.

The images are generally arranged in the order the records were microfilmed with the records of the Assistant Commissioner who oversaw Bureau operations in the state and state level staff officers; Commissary of Subsistence, Inspector General and Disbursing Officer, Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer, and Surgeon first then the local field office records are arranged alphabetically by location and by NARA roll number.

Related Article

  • Sharon Batiste Gillins.A Window into the lives of black and white ancestors: Freedmen's Bureau field office records. NGS Magazine 39 #1 (January-March 2013): 34-38.

Related Sources

Record Types[edit | edit source]

Collection Inventory Table[edit | edit source]

The inventory will include for each individual collection the National Archives Identifier Number (NAID) and preliminary inventory entry number.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872.

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

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War 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.

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

Records with Freedmen and Refugee Names

For details about the contents of these records, their history, and help using them, see the wiki article: United States Freedmen’s Bureau Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the individual
  • The approximate age of the individual
  • The place where the individual lived

The Freedmen’s Bureau records are a major source of genealogical information about post Civil War African Americans. The records are also a good source to quickly identify a family group and residence.

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting 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]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page

  1. Select the Freedmen's Bureau Office or Subordinate Field Office Location
  2. Select the 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.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

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

  • Copy the citation below, in case you need to find this record again later
  • Use the age or estimated birth date to find church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death
  • Use the information found in the record to find land, probate and immigration records
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in censuses
  • Determine if the slave owner kept plantation or account records listing information about their slaves

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

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby town or county
  • Former slaves may have 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

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of District of Columbia.

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

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands 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 temporal, legal and financial matters, with the intent of helping people to become self-sufficient. Matters handled included the distributing of food and clothing; operating temporary medical facilities; acquiring 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 Bureau functioned as an agency of the War Department from approximately June 1865 until December 1868. In 1872, the functions of the Bureau were transferred to the Freedmen’s Branch of the Adjutant General’s Office.

The Bureau 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.

The records identify those 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.

Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying you 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.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.