African American Resources for Wisconsin
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A list of resources for African American research of ancestors who lived in Wisconsin .
Many African Americans settled in Wisconsin. They were trappers and boatmen in the 1700s. Settlers from the Southern states brought slaves with them. There were many free African-Americans in Wisconsin also. For more information, you may wish to contact:
Helpful sources for learning about African-Americans in Wisconsin is:
The few slaves that may have been in Wisconsin before the Civil War may be listed in the United States Census Slave Schedules. Wisconsin was not highly populated before the Civil War but after the War movement brought all groups, including African Americans. See also:
- Black settlers in rural Wisconsin
- Exodusters : black migration to Kansas after reconstruction
- Blacks in Topeka, Kansas, 1865-1915 : a social history
- First Presbyterian Church records, Pleasanton, Kansas, 1869-1900
- Black towns and profit : promotion and development in the Trans-Appalachian West, 1877-1915
- Narratives of African Americans in Kansas, 1870-1992 : beyond the Exodust movement
Land and Property
Many of those involved in the Civil War moved after the War.
- Researching African American Soldiers of the Civil War
- Military history of African Americans in the American Civil War
- Military history of African Americans
An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (visit the African American Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records page to learn more). 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:
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. 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:
- DiscoverFreedmen - the search on this site will utilize all of the Freedmen's Bureau records on FamilySearch, including:
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau Claim Records,1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau Hospital and Medical Records, 1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contracts, Indenture and Apprenticeship Records, 1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau Ration Records,1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau Records of Persons and Articles Hired, 1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Freedmen's Court Records, 1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Land and Property Records, 1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of Freedmen's Complaints, 1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Superintendent of Education and of the Division of Education, 1865-1872
Other FamilySearch collections not included:
- United States Freedmen's Bureau Miscellaneous Records,1865-1872
- United States Freedmen's Bureau, Records of Freedmen, 1865-1872
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872 Images only. These reports primarily contain statistical and historical information.
- More collections are available in the FamilySearch Catalog. Search for "FREEDMEN - WISCONSIN" in the Subjects search bar to find.
Visit the African American Freedmen's Bureau Records page to learn more about utilizing these records.
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.
- United States, Freedmen's Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872
- U.S., Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records, 1846-1867
Archives and Libraries
- Wisconsin Black Historical Society
- Black History in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Historical Society
- Kansas City Public Library Genealogy Link
- Wisconsin Archives and Libraries
Wisconsin Black Historical Society
2620 West Center Street
Milwaukee, WI 53206
- "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.