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United States, Freedmen's Bureau Ration Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States, Freedmen's Bureau Ration Records,1865-1872
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United States
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Flag of the United States of America
Flag of the United State (1863-1865).png
US Flag 1863-1865 (35 stars)
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National Archives and Records Administration Logo
Record Description
Record Type War Department Records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872
Collection years 1865-1872
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


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

Index of records to rations including registers and applications for rations, certificates of destitution for the issuance of rations, lists of destitute or indigents to whom rations were issued or lists of rations issued, registers of freedmen receiving rations, registers of ration returns and other supplies provided to refugees and freedmen by the Freedmen's Bureau.

Records from the field offices are from the following states

  • Alabama (M1900), rolls 3, 15, 31
  • Arkansas (M1901), rolls 9, 18, 22
  • Kentucky (M1904), roll 132
  • Louisiana (M1905), rolls 63, 67, 71, 78, 83, 84, 87, 92, 95, 110
  • Mississippi (M1907), roll 31
  • North Carolina (M1909), rolls 20, 32, 42, 51, 64, 74, 76
  • South Carolina (M1910), rolls 21, 25, 26, 37-39, 52, 59, 63, 64, 73, 76, 79, 95, 99, 106
  • Virginia (M1913), rolls 37-40, 51, 109, 111, 115, 127, 146, 147, 159, 172, 192, 198, 202

Records of the Assistant Commissioner

  • Arkansas (M979), rolls 31-34
  • District of Columbia (M1055), roll 15-17

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.

The following important information is often found in Bureau records:

  • Name of the freedman
  • Name of the freedman’s former owner
  • Date of the record
  • Birthplace
  • Residence
  • Age
  • Bride and groom
  • Marriage date and place

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

Coverage Tables[edit | edit source]

The search results in this collection will identify the National Archives microfilm publication that the indexed image is from along with the film, digital and image numbers. The coverage table will help you determine the specific locality and provide the film notes which should identify the record type. Additional images of bureau records for the locality identified in the table will be found by searching in the browse collection.

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

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate age of your ancestor
  • The place where your ancestor lived
  • The name of the former slave owner

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

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

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

  • Use the information found to search for the family in census records
  • Use the information found to search for the family in church records
  • Use the information found to search for the family in land and probate records
  • Use the information found to search additional state and county records

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

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name
  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor
  • Former slaves may have had 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

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the United States.

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 FamilySearch Historical Records Collection 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 your 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 is found below the record.
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]

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