Washington, DC… Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein has announced that the National Archives has completed a five-year, multi-series project that preserved and microfilmed the field office records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau). The project was made possible by the U.S. Congress through the Freedmen's Bureau Records Preservation Act of 2000. These microfilm publications consist of nearly 1,000 rolls of microfilm reproducing over one million Bureau field office records from the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia.
All of the microfilm series of the field office records are available free of charge for research at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and at the National Archives 13 regional archives nationwide. Visit www.archives.gov/locations/ for locations.
Background on the Freedmen's Bureau
Following the Civil War, the Freedmen's Bureau provided assistance to tens of thousands of former slaves making the transition from slavery to freedom. Established in the War Department by an act of Congress in March 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau issued food and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, established schools, helped legalize marriages, supervised labor agreements, and worked with African American soldiers and sailors and their heirs to secure back pay, bounty payments, and pensions. The records created during the course of these activities are a rich source of documentation of the black experience in the late-19th-century America, and are essential for the study of African American genealogy and Southern social history.
Information Contained in the Records
Included in these extraordinary records are registers that give the names, ages, and former occupations of freedmen and names and residences of former owners. For some states, there are marriage registers that provide the names, addresses, ages, and complexions of husbands and wives and their children. There are also census lists, detailed labor and apprenticeship agreements, complaint registers, rosters with personal data about black veterans (including company and regiment), and a host of documentation concerning the social and economic conditions of the black family.
Field office records have been filmed and published by state in 17 M-numbered publications. These include series for Alabama (M1900), Arkansas (M1901), the District of Columbia (M1902), Florida (M1869), Georgia (M1903), Kentucky (M1904), Louisiana (M1905), Maryland/Delaware (M1906), Mississippi (state, M1907, and pre-Bureau, M1914), Missouri (M1908), North Carolina (M1909), South Carolina (M1910), Tennessee (M1911), Texas (M1912), and Virginia (M1913). In addition, there is a film series of marriage records from the Bureau's Washington, DC, headquarters (M1875).
How to order
Descriptions of series contents and historical background texts are available online through the National Archives Order Online! system, or in descriptive pamphlets (available by calling 1-866-325-7208).
Microfilm publications are available for $65 per roll for domestic orders and $68 per roll for foreign orders; shipping and handling fees are included in the price per roll. Order through the Order Online! system or call in credit card orders toll free to 1-866-272-6272 (301-837-2000 in the Washington DC, metropolitan area) weekdays 8 A.M.–4:30 P.M. eastern time, or fax your order to 301-837-0483. Mail checks or money orders to the National Archives Trust Fund, P.O. Box 100793, Atlanta, GA 30384-0793, and please include a daytime telephone number with your order.