United States Freedmen’s Branch Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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United States, Freedmen’s Branch Records, 1872-1878
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.

United States
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Record Description
Record Type War Department Records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
Collection years 1872-1878
Microfilm Publication M2029. Records of the Field Offices for the Freedmen’s Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1872-1878. 58 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives and Records Administration

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

The Freedmen's Branch assisted black veterans with claims for bounty, pensions,and arrears of pay. The records in this collection will consist of correspondence and claim records of the local field office locations. This collection will be helpful when searching for service records in the United States Colored Troopsand pension records.

Records of the Freedmen’s Branch in the Office of the Adjutant General are part of RG 105 Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands from NARA microfilm publication M2029. National Archives Pamphlet M2029

Branch field office locations

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Fort Johnson, North Carolina
  • Louisville, Kentucky;
  • Fort Macon, Georgia
  • Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
  • Fort Monroe, Virginia
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Natchez, Mississippi
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • St.Louis, Missouri
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Vicksburg, Mississippi

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.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

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To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for United States, Freedmen's Branch Records, 1872-1878.

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 information may be found in these records:

Freedmen's Branch

  • Name(s) of the primary individual(s)
  • Name of the freedman’s former owner
  • Names of family members
  • Residence
  • Age
  • Date of the record
  • Birth, marriage or death dates and places

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

Claim Records in this Collection Include:

  • Registers of Claimants: Charleston, SC, Roll 1; Fort Johnston, NC, Roll 2; Louisville, KY, Roll 8; Fort Macon, NC, Roll 18; Fort Leavenworth, KS, Roll 18; Fort Monroe, VA, Roll 22; Memphis, TN, Roll 27; Nashville, TN, Roll 32; Natchez, MS, Roll 37; New Orleans, LA, Roll 47; St. Louis, MO, Roll 50; Savannah, GA, Roll 52; Vicksburg, MS, Roll 56
  • Lists of Claimants: Charleston, SC, Roll 1; Louisville, KY, Roll 9; Fort Macon, NC, Roll 18; Fort Leavenworth, KS, Roll 18; Memphis, TN, Roll 27; Nashville, TN, Roll 32; Natchez, MS, Roll 37; St. Louis, MO, Roll 51; Savannah, GA, Roll 52; Vicksburg, MS, Roll 56
  • Confidential Lists: Charleston, SC, Roll 1; New Orleans, LA, Roll 47
  • Memorandums of Examination of Claimants: Louisville, KY, Roll 9; Natchez, MS, Roll 38; New Orleans, LA, Roll 47; Vicksburg, MS, Roll 56
  • Confidential Lists for the Identification of Claimants: Louisville, KY, Roll 17; Fort Macon, NC, Roll 18; Fort Leavenworth, KS, Roll 19; Memphis, TN, Roll 28; Nashville, TN, Roll 33; Natchez, MS, Roll 40; St. Louis, MO, Roll 51; Savannah, GA, Roll 53 ;Vicksburg, MS, Roll 57
  • Receipts for Payments of Claims: Memphis, TN, Roll 28;St. Louis, MO, Roll 51
  • Lists of Claimants Paid…: Nashville, TN, Roll 33
  • Registers of Claims Investigated: Natchez, MS, Roll 37
  • Names and Addresses of Claimants: Natchez, MS, Roll 37; New Orleans, LA, Roll 47; Vicksburg, MS, Roll 56
  • Register of Payments Made to Claimants: St. Louis, MO, Roll 50
  • Confidential Lists Concerning Deceased Soldiers: St. Louis, MO, Roll 51
  • Affidavits of Identify: Vicksburg, MS, Roll 58

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

Before searching this collection, 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]

This collection does not have a searchable index. Only images are available. See View the Images to access them.

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

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

Related Family History Library Holdings[edit | edit source]

Related FamilySearch Historical Record Collections[edit | edit source]

Related Digital Books[edit | edit source]

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]

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Collection Citation:
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