African American Resources for District of Columbia

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

The following resources are useful for researching African Americans in the District of Columbia.

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Record Collections

  • 1830-1955 District of Columbia Births and Christenings, 1830-1955 at FamilySearch
  • 1830-1921 District of Columbia Marriages, 1830-1921 at FamilySearch
  • 1820-1863 District of Columbia Court and Emancipation Records, 1820-1863 at FamilySearch - images only
  • 1840-1964 District of Columbia Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964 at FamilySearch
  • 1846-1867 U.S., Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records, 1846-1867 at Ancestry ($)
  • 1851-1863 Washington, D.C., Slave Emancipation Records, 1851-1863 at Ancestry ($)
  • 1861-1872 United States, Freedmen's Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872 at FamilySearch
  • 1862-1863 Washington, D.C., Slave Owner Petitions, 1862-1863 at Ancestry ($)
  • 1863-1872 District of Columbia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872 at FamilySearch
  • 1863-1878 U.S., Freedmen's Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 ($)
  • 1865-1872 Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1874 at FamilySearch
  • 1865-1872 Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872 at FamilySearch - images only
  • 1874-1961 District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1961 at FamilySearch
  • 1892-1922 Washington D.C., Ex-Slave Pension Correspondence and Case Files, 1892-1922 at Ancestry ($)
  • 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)

  • Digital Archives

  • Moorland-Springarn Research Center
  • Research Strategy[edit | edit source]

    History[edit | edit source]

  • DC Emancipation Day - learn more about the history of slavery in the District of Columbia
  • Avoice: the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Virtual Library Project.
  • Sherman's Directory and Ready Reference of the Colored Population in the District of Columbia. Washington: Sherman Directory Company. [1913] 1 v. Micro 54541 L of C
  • Resources[edit | edit source]

    Biographies[edit | edit source]

    • Caldwell, A.B., editor. History of the American Negro, Washington, D. C. Edition. Volume 6. Atlanta, Georgia: A.B. Caldwell Publishing Co., 1922. Digital version at Internet Archive. Biographies of many prominent black men and women of Washington, D.C.
    • Brown, Letitia Woods. Free Negroes in the District of Columbia, 1790-1846. - New York: Oxford University Press, 1972. 226 p. (The Urban Live in America Series) E185.D6 B69

    Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

    • Colombian Harmony Cemetery Records, District of Columbia. 1831-1899. By Paul E. Sluby, Sr. for the Harmony Society. Washington, D.C. - [Washington]: Sluby, [197-?] - 357 leaves. F193 S58 FHL Book 975.3/W1 V22s
    • The Old Methodist burial ground, Georgetown, Washington, D.C. : A section of the Mt. Zion Cemetery as distinguished from the adjacent Female Union Band Society Burying Ground section. An aboveground arch-ecological study of the history of the old Methodist burying ground section of the Mt. Zion Cemetery as reflected through grave markers and other available records. By Paul E. Sluby, Sr. -: [S,1.]: Sluby, 1975. - 70 p. FamilySearch Catalog
    • Woodlawn Cemetery, Washington, DC : Brief history and inscriptions. Compiled by Paul E. Sluby, Sr.; edited by Stanton L. Wormley. - Washington: Columbian Harmony Society, 1984. 70 leaves F193. S585 1984 FamilySearch Catalog

    Census Records[edit | edit source]

    Church Records[edit | edit source]

    Emancipation Records[edit | edit source]

    Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

    Genealogies[edit | edit source]

    GU272 Memory Project Genealogy and history of descendants of the 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown University in 1838.

    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]

    • The Bee Full-text of this African American D.C. newspaper digitized and hosted online by the Library of Congress. Covers 1882-1884.

    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 African American Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records. 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.[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:

    School Records[edit | edit source]

    Slavery Records[edit | edit source]

    Vital Records[edit | edit source]

    Birth[edit | edit source]

    Marriage[edit | edit source]

    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]

    • District of Columbia Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964 Index only - information usually includes name, death date and place, burial date and place, gender, age, birth date and place, race, marital status, spouse, and parents and their birthplaces
    • District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1961 - information usually includes name, death date and place, gender, age, race, marital status, occupation, birthplace, parents' birthplaces, and cause of death

    Divorce[edit | edit source]

    Voting Registers[edit | edit source]

    Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

    Societies[edit | edit source]

    References[edit | edit source]

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