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Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection

Creator:
United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands  Search this
Extent:
1,917,680 Digital images (1918 digitized microfilm rolls)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Digital images
Date:
1865-1872
Summary:
The Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 1918 rolls of microfilm held by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Arrangement:
The Freedmen's Bureau digital collection consists of 44 collections.

Headquarters

Selected Series of Records Issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872 -- (M742, 7 rolls)

Registers and Letters Received by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872 -- (M752, 74 rolls)

Records of the Education Division of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1871 -- (M803, 35 rolls)

Superintendents of Education

Alabama -- (M810, 8 rolls)

Arkansas -- (M980, 5 rolls)

District of Columbia -- (M1056, 24 rolls)

Georgia -- (M799, 28 rolls)

Louisiana -- (M1026, 12 rolls)

North Carolina -- (M844, 16 rolls)

Tennessee -- (M1000, 9 rolls)

Texas -- (M822, 18 rolls)

Virginia -- (1053, 20 rolls)

Assistant Commissioners

Alabama -- (M809, 23 rolls)

Arkansas -- (M979, 52 rolls)

District of Columbia -- (M1055, 21 rolls)

Georgia -- (M798, 36 rolls)

Louisiana -- (M1027, 36 rolls)

Louisiana - New Orleans Asst. Commissioner -- (M1483, 10 rolls)

Mississippi -- (M826, 50 rolls)

North Carolina -- (M843, 38 rolls)

South Carolina -- (M869, 44 rolls)

Tennessee -- (M999, 34 rolls)

Texas -- (M821, 32 rolls)

Virginia -- (M1048, 67 rolls)

Field Offices

Alabama -- (M1900, 34 rolls)

Arkansas -- (M1901, 23 rolls)

District of Columbia -- (M1902, 21 rolls)

Florida -- (M1869, 15 rolls)

Georgia -- (M1903, 90 rolls)

Kentucky -- (M1904, 133 rolls)

Louisiana -- (M1905, 111 rolls)

Maryland/Delaware -- (M1906, 42 rolls)

Mississippi - Pre-Bureau Records -- (M1914, 5 rolls)

Mississippi -- (M1907, 65 rolls)

Missouri -- (M1908, 24 rolls)

North Carolina -- (M1909, 78 rolls)

South Carolina -- (M1910, 106 rolls)

Tennessee -- (M1911, 89 rolls)

Texas -- (M1912, 28 rolls)

Virginia -- (M1913, 203 rolls)

Marriage

Marriage -- (M1875, 5 rolls)

Adjutant General's Office

Office of the Adjutant General, 1872-1878 -- (M2029, 58 rolls).

Freedmen's Savings and Trust

Freedmen's Savings and Trust -- (M816, 27 rolls)
Historical Note:
As the Civil War drew to a close, President Lincoln and members of Congress debated how to reunite the nation, reconstruct Southern society, and help formerly enslaved individuals make the transition to freedom and citizenship. As one response, in March 1865 Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly referred to as The Freemen's Bureau. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard Commissioner of the Bureau. Howard, who served until the Bureau was discontinued, maintained his headquarters at Washington, D.C. Assistant commissioners supervised the work of the Bureau in the States.

The Bureau was responsible for providing assistance to four million formerly enslaved individuals and hundreds of thousands of impoverished Southern whites. The Bureau set up offices in major cities in the 15 Southern and border states and the District of Columbia.

The Bureau provided food, clothing, medical care, and legal representation; promoted education; helped legalize marriages; and assisted African American soldiers and sailors in securing back pay, enlistment bounties and pensions. In addition, the Bureau promoted a system of labor contracts to replace the slavery system and tried to settle freedmen and women on abandoned or confiscated land. The Bureau was also responsible for protecting freedmen and women from intimidation and assaults by Southern whites.

By most accounts, the Bureau was only partially successful. Congress did not provide sufficient funds or staff for the Bureau to be truly effective. The Bureau only operated from 1865 to 1872. It generally failed to protect the freedmen or their political and civil rights from white Southerners intent on re-establishing their local power.

Administered by the War Department, the Bureau followed the record-keeping system inspired by the war effort and the expansion of the Federal Government it required. Those hundreds of thousands of documents provide an unexcelled view into the lives of the newly freed slaves.
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch, International in 2015.
Rights:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865-1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
American South  Search this
Citation:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb
Online Media:

Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865–1874

Topic:
American South
Extent:
27 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1874
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 27 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M816. These digital surrogates reproduced 55 volumes containing signatures of and personal identification data about depositors in 29 branch offices of the Freedman's Saving and Trust Company, 1865–1874.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M816.]

The Company was incorporated by an act of Congress approved March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 510), as a banking institution established in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, for the benefit of freed slaves. The military savings banks at Norfolk, VA, and Beaufort, SC, were transferred to the Company soon after it was founded. From 1865 through 1870 a total of 33 branches were established, including an office that was opened in New York, NY, in 1866.

In 1874 the Company failed and by the terms of an act of Congress approved June 20, 1874 (18 Stat. 132), the trustees were authorized to select, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, three commissioners to take charge of the effects of the Company and to report on its financial state to the Secretary of the Treasury. The arrangement was altered by an act of Congress approved February 21, 1881 (21 Stat. 327), whereby the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized and directed to appoint the Comptroller of the Currency to administer the affairs of the Company. The Comptroller was made commissioner ex officio and he submitted annual reports to Congress. The final report on the trust company was submitted in 1920.

The information contained in many of the registers is as follow: account number, name of depositor, date of entry, place born, place brought up, residence, age, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband, children, father, mother, brothers and sisters, remarks, and signature. The early books sometimes also contain the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. In many entries not all the requested data are given. Copies of death certificates have been pinned to some of the entries. In each case the certificate has been filmed immediately after the page that shows the registration of the person's signature.

The registers are arranged alphabetically by name of State. The entries are arranged alphabetically by name of city where the bank was located, there under chronologically by date when the account was established, and there under numerically by account number. Many numbers are missing, a few are out of numerical order, and in some cases blocks of numbers were not used. Many registers seem to be missing. The volume for Philadelphia, PA, dated January 7, 1870, to June 26, 1874 contains signatures of officers of societies.

Filmed after these introductory remarks is an index that gives the location and the date of organization of the branch. The first part also gives the account numbers and the numbers of the rolls of microfilm on which the registers are filmed. There are no account numbers or registers available for the branches listed in the second part.

The records reproduced in this microfilm publication are part of the records in the National Archives designated as Record Group 101, Records of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Closely related records in the same record group include indexes to deposit ledgers (42 vols.). The ledgers are arranged alphabetically by name of State, there under by name of city, and there under by name of depositor. As the indexes to the deposit ledgers include the depositor's account number they can serve as a finding aid to the registers of signatures reproduced in this microcopy, which is not indexed. Other related records include loan and real estate ledgers and journals, 1870–1916, arranged roughly in chronological order; inspectors' reports, minutes of meetings of committees and a journal of the board of trustees, 1865–1874; dividend payment records, 1882–1889, arranged alphabetically by name of city and there under by depositor's account number; and letters received by the commissioners of the Company and by the Comptroller of the Currency as ex officio commissioner, 1870–1914. Interspersed among their records are legal papers, canceled checks, payrolls, expense checks, and passbooks.

Other record groups containing related documents are Record Group 105, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freemen, and Abandoned Lands, and Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's–1917.

The records reproduced in this microcopy were prepared for filing by Lockwood Wright, who also wrote these introductory remarks and provided the other editorial material.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M816
See more items in:
Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865–1874
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m816

Selected Series of Records Issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Topic:
American South
Extent:
7 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 7 rolls of microfilm described in NARA publication M742. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Selected Series of Records Issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. This collection contains seven volumes of letters sent, six volumes of endorsements sent, one volume of circulars issued, and one volume of special orders issued by the Commissioner. Also included are fourteen volumes of indexes. These records relate to the general operation of the Bureau.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M742.]

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands often referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau , was established in the War Department by an act of Congress approved March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). Congress assigned to the Bureau responsibilities previously shared by the military commanders and the agents of the Treasury Department, which included the supervision of all affairs relating to refugees and freedmen and the custody of all abandoned or confiscated lands and property. The act also provided that the Bureau was to be headed by a Commissioner, appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

In May 1865 the President appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner. Howard, who served until the Bureau was discontinued in 1872, established his headquarters in Washington, D. C. Although the size and organization of the Bureau headquarters varied from time to time, Howard's staff consist primarily of an Assistant Adjutant General, an Assistant Inspector General, a Chief Medical Officer, a Chief Quartermaster, a Chief Disbursing Officer, and officers in charge of the Claim Division, the Education Division, and the Land Division.

The Bureau's operations were confined principally to the former Confederate States, the border states, and the District of Columbia. Assistant Commissioners supervised the work of the Bureau in the districts into which the States were divided. Officers subordinate to the Assistant Commissioners carried out the policies of the Bureau within the districts.

During the years of its greatest activity, the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau resembled, in many ways, the work of later Federal social agencies. In addition to supervising the disposition of the abandoned or confiscated lands, Bureau officers issued rations, clothing, and medicine to destitute refugees and freedmen. They established hospitals and dispensaries and supervised tenement and camps for the homeless. Bureau officers and members of philanthropic organizations cooperated in establishing schools, operating employment offices, and dispensing relief.

The main concern of the Bureau was the freedman. Bureau officers supervised the writing of labor contracts and terms of indenture, registered marriages, listened to complaints, and generally concerned themselves with improving almost all aspects of the freedman's life. In March 1866 the Bureau assumed the function of helping colored soldiers and sailors to file and collect claims for bounties, pensions, and pay arrearages.

By the beginning of 1869 most of the work of the Freedmen's Bureau had come to an end. An act of Congress approved on July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), provided that on January 1, 1869, the Commissioner was to withdraw the Bureau officers from the States and discontinue the functions of the Bureau except those relating to education and to the collection and payment of claims, effective June 30, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). All unfinished work, which by this time related chiefly to the collection and payment of claims, was transferred to the Freedmen's Branch that was established in the Office of the Adjutant General.

The volumes reproduced in the microcopy were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder in numerical sequence, with no numbers assigned to index books or to series consisting of single volumes. Later all the volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers. In this microfilm publication the last set of numbers assigned are in parentheses and are useful only as an aid in identifying the volume.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M742
See more items in:
Selected Series of Records Issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m742

Records of the Field Offices of the Freedmen's Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1872–1878

Extent:
58 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1872–1878
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 58 rolls of microfilm described in NARA publication M2029. These digital surrogates reproduced the field office records of the Freedmen's Branch in the Office of the Adjutant General, 1872–1878. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, including letters sent, letters received, registers of letters received, and registers of claims.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. All of the volumes of the Freedmen's Branch were at one time arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) after the records came into its custody. In the table of contents that follows, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there may be blank numbered pages that have not been filmed. It appears that about 40 volumes of Freedmen's Branch records listed by a clerk in the Adjutant General's Office in 1906 were not transferred to the National Archives; however the other Freedmen's Branch records are intact.

The records of field disbursing offices operating under thee Freedmen's Branch consist of the following series: letters sent, letters received, registers of letters received, and registers of claims. These records span various periods within the years 1872–78. The records are ordered by field office just as they were arranged when transferred by the Office of the Adjutant General to the National Archives as follows: Charleston, SC; Columbia, SC (see Charleston); Fort Johnston, NC; Louisville, KY; Fort Macon, NC; Fort Leavenworth, KS; Fort Monroe, VA; Memphis, TN; Nashville, TN; Natchez, MS; New Orleans, LA; St. Louis, MO; Savannah, GA; and Vicksburg, MS.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M2029.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Freedmen's Branch was established in the office of the Adjutant General in June 1872. It assumed and continued the unfinished business of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau), which was ended by an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872.

The Freedmen's Bureau was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). Under the direction of Commissioner Oliver Otis Howard, it was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self–sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their families or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

An act of Congress approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered the Bureau to withdraw from the states in which it operated and to discontinue its work. Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers ended their field office activities. For the next year and a half, the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the state superintendents of education ceased to operate in the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. With the closing of the Bureau on June 30, 1872, its records and remaining functions, which consisted almost exclusively of the disposition of military–related claims, were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the War Department's Office of the Adjutant General.

When Assistant Adjutant General Thomas Vincent assumed office as head of the Freedmen's Branch on June 27, 1872, his charge was to supervise the transfer of the records of the unfinished business of the Freedmen's Bureau and to "look to the arrangement of the records and distribution of the duties, so that there will be the least delay in the future transaction of the business, with the view of completing and closing it." When the records of the Freedmen's Bureau began to arrive at his office, however, Vincent found them "in a state of much confusion." The records for several states and divisions were intermixed with others; some records were missing and presumed kept by Assistant Commissioner and local agents; many transactions relating to claims were never recorded, making it difficult to determine who had been paid; and there were a deficit in the amount of moneys due the some 4,858 unpaid claims and the amount transferred by the Freedmen's Bureau. These and other factors contributed to numerous complaints, accusations of fraud and embezzlement, and delays in the Freedmen's Branch's attempt to prepare and pay claims.1

Vincent established his headquarters and a chief disbursement office in Washington, DC. Capt. James McMillian served as the chief disbursing officer of the Freedmen's Branch from July 1872 to July 1877, until he was succeeded by Capt. G. G. Hunt, who served from July 1877 to February 1879. Field disbursing offices were established at Louisville, Kentucky; St. Louis; Missouri; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Payments to claimants in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia were made through the Washington office; in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and states where slavery had not existed, disbursing officers were temporarily assigned.

The effort to organize, arrange, and make sense of the Freedmen's Bureau's records took the Freedmen's Branch almost a year and a half. Nevertheless, in accordance with Joint Resolution Number 25, approved Mach 29, 1867, which had governed the payment of black veterans' claims by the Freedmen's Bureau, the Freedmen's Branch received, acted upon, and paid claims of black soldiers, sailors, and marines and their heirs for bounty, pension, arrears of pay, commutation of rations, and prize money. Under the provisions of the resolution, the chief disbursement officer received all checks and certificates relating to the settlement of blacks soldiers' claims, and was responsible for paying claimants in the Washington, DC, area and for the accounting and disbursements of funds to the field disbursing officers located in the Border and former Confederate States. The Washington office also paid attorneys' fees and expenses, and after satisfactory identification, the balance of the claim was paid to individual claimants, heirs or representatives. To protect black claimants from fraud and "imposition," claimants were to receive payment in currency rather than checks or drafts. The transfer or assignment of power off attorney for the balance of a claim ("or any part thereof") was not allowed. The resolution made clear that it was the duty of the Freedmen's Branch and its officers "to facilitate as far as possible the discovery, identification, and payment of claimants."2

In December 1874, the Secretary of War reported that as of July 1872, the Freedmen's Branch had paid military claims amounting to more than $1 million. He also reported that, to meet the needs of claimants in Kansas and the northwestern areas of Missouri, a field office was opened at Fort Leavenworth. The disbursing office that had been established at Nashville in 1873 was consolidated with the Memphis, TN office and the office at Fort Macon, NC and Columbia, SC, were discontinued. One of the offices at New Orleans, LA, was consolidated with that at Vicksburg, MS. While the Secretary of War reported that payments of claims by means of postal orders were alleviating delays in remote areas, Freedmen's Branch officials still found it difficult to process unpaid bounty and pension claims transferred by the Freedmen's Bureau. In many of these claims, individuals had moved from their former residences and could not be located. Some had died, leaving no representative; others for one reason or another failed to apply for payments.3

By mid–fall 1875, the disbursing office established at Fort Leavenworth, KS was consolidated with that in St. Louis, MO. Because of increasing demand for services, the office at Nashville was reopened. The offices at Fort Monroe, VA and Charleston, SC were permanent closed. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1875, the Freedmen's Branch received more than 13,000 correspondences relating to the military claims of black veterans. Disbursing officers settled more than 3,700 of these claims, at a cost of nearly $390,000. Also, through the "diligent effort" of disbursing officers, the settlement of unpaid claims had increased, although allocating some claimants still remains a problem. To protect the interests of both the Federal Government and claimants, disbursing officers worked "vigorously" to investigate contested and fraudulent claims, which had increasingly become an important part of their duties. The Freedmen's Branch also continued to pursue matters relating to embezzlement.4

By October 1876, payment of military claims had fallen off dramatically. The number of claims paid during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1876, and July and August 1876, totaled less than 2,500. Most claimants who remained unpaid lived in remote locations thus making payment extremely difficult. Also, some claimants had changed their place of residence after filing claims. The periodic reduction of disbursing offices and clerical staff also greatly impacted the settlement process. The offices at St. Louis, MO and Nashville, TN were permanently closed. The disbursing responsibilities formerly assigned at Natchez and Vicksburg, MS were moved to the New Orleans, LA; Memphis, TN; Louisville, KY and the chief disbursing office at Washington, DC. Nonetheless, the Freedmen's Branch continued to settle unpaid claims, address complaints, institute measures to combat fraud, and when necessary, worked to rearrange records that had been transferred by the Freedmen's Bureau.5

In accordance with an act of December 15, 1877 (20 Stat. 11), the work of the Freedmen's Branch had to be completed by January 1, 1879. If not, the Freedmen's Branch would be closed and all of its papers would be turned over the Paymaster General. However, when the Freedmen's Branch was finally closed on June 30, 1879, its work relating to the claims of black veterans was assigned to the Colored Troops Division in the Office of the Adjutant General.

ENDNOTES

1 House Ex. Doc. 109, 42nd Cong., 3rd Sess., Serial Vol. 1566, pp. 1 – 4; see also George R. Bentley, A History of the Freedmen's Bureau (New York: Octagon Books, 1974), pp. 212 – 213.

2 House Ex. Doc. 109, Serial Vol. 1566, pp. 6 – 7.

3 House Ex. Doc. No. 59, 43rd Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1645, pp. 1 – 2.

4. See Annual Report of the Adjutant General on the Operations of the Freedmen's Branch, October 9, 1875, pp. 1 – 14, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Record Group (RG) 105, National Archives Building (NAB), Washington, DC.

5 See Annual Report of the Adjutant–General on the Operations of the Freedmen's Branch, October 10, 1876, pp. 1 – 7, RG 105, NAB.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Office of the Adjutant General:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Adjutant General's Office personnel at selected field offices of the Freedmen's Branch. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Freedmen's Branch's Washington Office Register of Employees, July 1872–June 1879.

CHARLESTON, SC

Dec. 1872–Jan. 1874 -- Disbursing Officer J. H. Counselman

Jan.–June 1874 and July 1874–Apr. 1875 -- Disbursing Officer J. K. Hyer, at Columbia (See Savannah, GA)

FORT JOHNSTON, NC

June 1872–May 1874 -- Disbursing Officer W. S. Starring

LOUISVILLE, KY

Oct. 1872–June 1876 -- Disbursing Officer A. P. Howe

June 1876–July 1878 -- Disbursing Officer Maj. H. S. Hawkins

FORT MACON, NC

Dec. 1872–Apr.1874 -- Disbursing Officer Edgar Dudley

FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS

Jan.–Mar. 1874 -- Disbursing Officer Quentin Campbell

Mar. 1874–May 1875 -- Disbursing Officer Capt. D. H. Brotherton

FORT MONROE, VA

Dec. 1872–Apr. 1875 -- Disbursing Officer James Curry

MEMPHIS, TN

Sept. 1872–June 1876 -- Disbursing Officer Maj. George Gibson

July 1876–June 1877 -- Disbursing Officer Maj. G. G. Hunt

NASHVILLE, TN

Sept. 1872–June 1874 -- Disbursing Officer R. G. LaMotte

June 1874–Apr. 1875 -- Disbursing Officer Maj. George Gibson

Apr. 1875–July 1876 -- Disbursing Officer Maj. H. S. Hawkins

NATCHEZ, MS

Oct. 1872–June 1874 -- Disbursing Officer Maj. G. G. Hunt (also, New Orleans, LA)

June 1874–June 1876 -- Disbursing Officer Maj. G. G. Hunt, at Vicksburg (also, New Orleans, LA)

NEW ORLEANS, LA

Sept. 1872–July 1878 -- Disbursing Officer A. K. Arnold

ST. LOUIS, MO

Sept. 1872–June 1876 -- Disbursing Officer P. T. Swain

SAVANNAH, GA

Nov. 1872–June 1874 -- Disbursing Officer J. W. Dillenback

July–Nov. 1874 -- Disbursing Officer J. W. Dillenback, at Charleston, SC

Nov. 1874–Apr.1875 -- Disbursing Officer E. H. Totten, at Charleston, SC

VICKSBURG, MS

Sept. 1872–Apr.1873 -- Disbursing Officer E. F. Townsend

Apr.1873–June 1874 -- Disbursing Officer Th. Anderson

June 1874–June 1876 -- Disbursing Officer (See Natchez, MS)
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M2029
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices of the Freedmen's Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1872–1878
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m2029

Legal Documents Concerning Slavery Collection

Author:
Maynard, Thomas  Search this
Donor:
Clark, Julie  Search this
Clark, Julie  Search this
Extent:
1 Cubic foot (2 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Bills of sale
Deeds
Land titles
Slave bills of sale
Manuscripts
Manumission, deeds of
Place:
Maryland
Date:
undated
1710-1865
Summary:
A collection of a variety of legal documents that relate to slavery and African-Americans.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists mainly of a wide vareity of court and legal documents such as, bills of sale, warrants, a manumission document, a certificate of free birth, and documents concerning debt, property, and legal obligations. The documents originated in four states: Alabama, the Carolina colony, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. They span the greatest portion of the era of slavery within what is now the United States. Most of the documents are from Lawrence County, Alabama and may have at one time been created or used as evidence in either an orphans court or civil court case. The documents are arranged in one series in chronological order.
Arrangement:
The collection is divided into 1 series:

Series 1: Legal Documents Concerning Slavery, 1710-1865, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Up until the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent victory of the Union forces in the Civil War, slaves were considered chattel, property that could be bought and sold. Slaves were a commodity that could be attached for non-payment of debt, used as collateral, given as bequests in a will, and were considered assets of a deceased's estate. As such, they engendered legal battles and the need for a variety of legal documents asserting one's freedom or manumission.
Provenance:
Bill of Sale of "one Negro girl named Nancy, about three years old, from Thomas Maynard to John Stephen Hale, for the sum of 30 pounds, Frederick County, Maryland, June 13, 1796." 2002 acquisition: "Receipt for a slave named Wilson", January 19, 1863, and two carte-de-visite portraits: W.B. Mitchell, July 1880, and Pleasant A. Mitchell, undated. Gifts of Julie Clark, 2008 addendum.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Branding (Punishment)  Search this
Fugitive slaves  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Slave trade -- Maryland  Search this
Slaveholders -- Maryland  Search this
Slavery -- United States -- Maryland  Search this
Genre/Form:
Bills of sale
Deeds
Land titles
Slave bills of sale
Manuscripts -- 18th century
Manumission, deeds of
Citation:
Legal Documents Concerning Slavery Collection, 1710-1865, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0786
See more items in:
Legal Documents Concerning Slavery Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0786
Online Media:

Records of the Education Division of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1871

Extent:
35 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1871
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 35 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M803. These digital surrogates reproduced the 23 volumes and the unbound records of the Education Division of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–71. The records consist mainly of letters sent, letters received, and reports of schools by the State superintendents of education on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M803.]

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established in the War Department by an act of Congress approved March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The legislation provided that the Freedmen's Bureau, as it was often called, would be headed by a Commissioner appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate. Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard was appointed as Commissioner in May 1865 and served in the Bureau Headquarters in Washington, D. C., until the activities of the Bureau were terminated in 1872. With minor variations in size and organization, General Howard's staff consisted of an Assistant Adjutant General, an Assistant Inspector General, a Chief Medical Officer, a Chief Quartermaster, a Chief Disbursing Officer, and officers in charge of the Claim Division, the Education Division, and the Land Division.

The Bureau confined its operations to the District of Columbia and to the area of the former Confederate and border states. Assistant Commissioners supervised the work of the Bureau in the districts into which the States were divided. The initial legislation provided for only 10 Assistant Commissioners, necessitating some of the districts to encompass more than one State. The number of Assistant Commissioners was increased later to 14.

During the years of its greatest activity the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau resembled, in many ways, the work of later Federal social agencies. In addition to supervising the disposition of abandoned or confiscated lands, Bureau officers issued rations, clothing, and medicine to destitute refugees and freedmen; established hospitals and dispensaries; and supervised camps and settlements for the homeless. Bureau officers worked with members of benevolent and philanthropic organizations in dispensing relief, operating employment offices, and establishing schools. The schools were of four types: day schools for instruction of young children; night schools for older children and parents; industrial schools for practical instruction in such skills as sewing; and Sunday or Sabbath schools for religious instruction.

Although the establishment of schools was an important aspect of improving the lives of the newly freed slaves, there was no organized department concerned with matters of education when the Bureau began operations in 1865. The educational activities of the Bureau and the organization for supervising these activities grew as the educational needs of the freedmen increased.

During the early months of the Bureau's existence there was no apparent attempt by the Government to finance freedmen's schools on a large scale. This inactivity on the part of the Bureau was due primarily to the fact that benevolent societies in the North maintained schools in many parts of the South, and a few in some of the Northern States, and continued to do so for some months after the establishment of the Bureau. In July 1865 Commissioner Howard directed the Assistant Commissioners in the States to appoint general superintendents of schools to assist them in making reports on educational matters.

In October 1865 Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In the months after his appointment the educational needs of the freedmen grew rapidly and many benevolent societies learned that their financial resources were inadequate to meet the demand for educational development. By an act of July 13, 1866 (14 Stat. 92), Congress authorized funds for the salaries of State superintendents of education and for the repair and rental of school buildings. The appropriation aided in establishing the Education Division as a separate entity within the Freedmen's Bureau. Reverend Alvord was relieved of his responsibilities for the inspection of the Bureau's finances in January 1867 when he was appointed as General Superintendent of Education. He retained the new position until his resignation in late 1870.

Throughout its existence the Bureau maintained close ties with the benevolent societies who retained control of such administrative matters as the selection and the specific school assignments of teachers. In many instances when the philanthropic societies had to curtail their financial support, the Bureau provided funds that were channeled through the societies.

The period from late 1866 until far into 1868 was one of great activity for the Education Division. Enrollment in Bureau financed schools grew rapidly, new school buildings were constructed in many communities, and the curriculum was expanded. But by late 1868 much of the work in other divisions of the Freedmen's Bureau was coming to an end.

An act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), provided that on January 1, 1869, the Commissioner was to withdraw the Assistant Commissioners and most Bureau officers from the States and to discontinue the functions of the Bureau except those relating to education and to the collection and payment of claims. Although educational activities were to continue for an unspecified period, by late 1870 most offices of the State superintendents of education had closed, and on November 30, 1870, Reverend Alvord resigned as General Superintendent of Education.

The work of the Education Division was greatly reduced after Reverend Alvord's resignation, but school reports and correspondence continued to arrive during the next several months and some clerical functions were continued. Because no further appropriations were made by Congress the educational activities of the Freedmen's Bureau terminated in March 1871.

The volumes reproduced in this microcopy were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder in numerical sequence, with no numbers assigned to index books or to series consisting of single volumes. Later all the volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers. In this microfilm publication the last set of numbers assigned are in parentheses and are useful as an aid in identifying the volumes.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M803
See more items in:
Records of the Education Division of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1871
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m803

Juneteenth, a historical perspective : a research paper / by Amy Grey ; edited by Ann Hofstra Grogg

Author:
Grey, Amy  Search this
Grogg, Ann Hofstra  Search this
Anacostia Museum  Search this
Physical description:
15 p. : ill. ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1991
[1991]
1863-1877
Topic:
Juneteenth--History  Search this
Slaves--Emancipation  Search this
African Americans--History  Search this
Call number:
E185.2 .G842 1991
E185.2.G842 1991
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_419888

Juneteenth, unique heritage : an historical analysis of the origin and evolution of the 19th of June celebration in Texas / by David A. Williams

Author:
Williams, David A. 1939-  Search this
Physical description:
ix, 117 p. : ill. ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Texas
Date:
1992
C1992
Topic:
Juneteenth--History  Search this
Slaves--Emancipation  Search this
African Americans--History  Search this
Call number:
F395.N4 W72 1992
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_480063

Acceptance Speeches: Communist Candidates in Presidential Elections

Published by:
Workers Library Publishers, Inc., American, founded 1930  Search this
Written by:
Earl Russell Browder, American, 1891 - 1973  Search this
James W. Ford, American, 1893 - 1957  Search this
Subject of:
Communist Party of the United States of America, American, founded 1919  Search this
Medium:
ink on paper
Dimensions:
H x W: 7 x 5 1/16 in. (17.8 x 12.8 cm)
Type:
pamphlets
speeches
Place made:
New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Date:
1936
Topic:
African American  Search this
Mass media  Search this
Oratory  Search this
Political organizations  Search this
Politics (Practical)  Search this
United States--History--1933-1945  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the family of Dr. Maurice Jackson and Laura Ginsburg
Object number:
2010.55.31
Restrictions & Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Documents and Published Materials-Published Works
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd5e1ad6294-c058-4c7b-8063-dbf8a9ba49b8
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2010.55.31
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  • View <I>Acceptance Speeches: Communist Candidates in Presidential Elections</I> digital asset number 1

The Liberator, Vol. XXVII, No. 11

Created by:
The Liberator, American, 1831 - 1865  Search this
Edited by:
William Lloyd Garrison, American, 1805 - 1879  Search this
Published by:
Isaac Knapp, American, 1808 - 1858  Search this
Printed by:
J.B. Yerrington & Son, American  Search this
Medium:
ink on paper
Dimensions:
H x W (closed): 25 1/2 × 18 1/4 in. (64.8 × 46.4 cm)
Type:
newspapers
Place printed:
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States, North and Central America
Date:
March 13, 1857
Topic:
African American  Search this
Activism  Search this
Antislavery  Search this
Journalism  Search this
Mass media  Search this
Resistance  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Social reform  Search this
Societies  Search this
United States--History--1815-1861  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from the Liljenquist Family Collection
Object number:
2016.166.41.11
Restrictions & Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Collection title:
Liljenquist Family Collection
Classification:
Slavery and Freedom Objects
Documents and Published Materials-Published Works
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd564308f3b-39c4-49f0-b8aa-71d2fdc43fae
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2016.166.41.11
1 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant are shown: View entire project in transcription center
  • View <I>The Liberator, Vol. XXVII, No. 11</I> digital asset number 1
Online Media:

The Liberator, Vol. XXIV, No. 16

Created by:
The Liberator, American, 1831 - 1865  Search this
Edited by:
William Lloyd Garrison, American, 1805 - 1879  Search this
Published by:
Isaac Knapp, American, 1808 - 1858  Search this
Printed by:
J.B. Yerrington & Son, American  Search this
Medium:
ink on paper
Dimensions:
H x W (closed): 25 1/4 × 18 3/8 in. (64.1 × 46.7 cm)
Type:
newspapers
Place printed:
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States, North and Central America
Date:
April 21, 1854
Topic:
African American  Search this
Activism  Search this
Antislavery  Search this
Fugitive enslaved  Search this
Journalism  Search this
Mass media  Search this
Resistance  Search this
Self-liberation  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Social reform  Search this
Societies  Search this
United States--History--1815-1861  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from the Liljenquist Family Collection
Object number:
2016.166.41.3
Restrictions & Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Collection title:
Liljenquist Family Collection
Classification:
Slavery and Freedom Objects
Documents and Published Materials-Published Works
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd53fb37bea-8c13-463c-a714-644053a05724
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2016.166.41.3
1 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant are shown: View entire project in transcription center
  • View <I>The Liberator, Vol. XXIV, No. 16</I> digital asset number 1
Online Media:

Registers and Letters Received by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Topic:
American South
Extent:
74 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 74 rolls of microfilm described in NARA publication M752. These digital surrogates reproduced 33 volumes of registers and indexes and the related unbound letters received by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M752.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, often referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress approved March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). Congress assigned to the Bureau responsibilities previously shared by the military commanders and the agents of the Treasury Department, which included the supervision of all matters relating to the refugees and freedmen and the custody of all abandoned or confiscated lands and property. The act also provided that the Bureau was to be headed by a Commissioner, appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

In May 1865 the President appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard to be Commissioner of the Bureau. Howard, who served until the Bureau was discontinued in 1872, established his headquarters in Washington, D. C. Although the size and organization of the central office varied from time to time, Howard's staff consisted primarily of an Assistant Adjutant General, an Assistant Inspector General, a Chief Medical Officer, a Chief Quartermaster, a Chief Disbursing Officer, and officers in charge of the Claim Division, the Education Division, and the Land Division.

Assistant Commissioners supervised the work of the Bureau in the States. The Bureau's operations were mainly confined to the former Confederate States, the border states, and the District of Columbia. Assistant Commissioners had staff offices comparable to those of the Commissioner and performed all functions of the Bureau under the direction of the central office in Washington. Officers subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner carried out the Bureau's policies and programs within the districts.

During the years of its greatest activity, the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau resembled the work of later Federal welfare agencies. In addition to supervising the disposition of abandoned and confiscated lands, Bureau officers issued rations, clothing, and medicine to destitute refugees and freedmen. They established hospitals and dispensaries and supervised tenements and camps for the homeless. Bureau officers and members of philanthropic organizations cooperated in establishing schools, operating employment offices, and dispensing relief.

The main concern of the Bureau was the freedman. Bureau officers supervised the writing of labor contracts and terms of indenture, registered marriages, listened to complaints, and generally were concerned with improving the life of the freedman. In March 1866 the Bureau assumed the function of helping colored soldiers and sailors to file and collect claims for bounties, pensions, and pay in arrears.

On July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Congress ordered the Commissioner to withdraw Bureau officers from the States by January 1, 1869, and to discontinue Bureau activities except those relating to education and to the collection and payment of claims. The Bureau was abolished by an Act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), and effective June 30, 1872. All unfinished work, which by this time related chiefly to the collection and payment of claims, was transferred to the Freedmen's Branch that was established in the Office of the Adjutant General.

The records reproduced in this microcopy include the registers of letters received, the indexes to the registers, and the letters themselves. According to recordkeeping practices of the time, incoming letters were entered in registers of letters received. The registers include such information as the name or office of the correspondent, the date of the letter, the place from which the letter was sent, the date of receipt, and an abstract of its contents.

Before 1871, letters were entered in registers alphabetically by the initial letter of the surname or office of the writer and thereunder by date of receipt. Each entry was numbered according to a separate numerical sequence used for each letter of the alphabet, and the clerks usually began new sequences each January. Registers 2 and 3, which cover the period from October 1865 to February 1866, are an exception because separate numerical sequences were begun in October 1865 and in January 1866. Consequently, two numerical sequences exist under each alphabetical division in these two registers. In January 1871, the Freedmen's Bureau began to enter letters chronologically by date of receipt and to number them consecutively within each year. For this reason, register 18 (1871–1872) has two separate numerical sequences.

There are some variations in the order in which letters were entered in the registers. In registers with alphabetical divisions, letters of recommendation were entered under the name of either the person recommended, the person making the recommendation, or the person transmitting the recommendation to the Commissioner. Particularly in register 1, letters were not always entered upon receipt, and letters of application were entered at the end of each alphabetical division without regard to the date of receipt. In register 1 a few letters referred from other Government agencies antedate the establishment of the Bureau.

There are numerous breaks in the alphabetical sequences within the registers. These breaks occur because the number of pages allotted to each letter of the alphabet often proved to be insufficient, making it necessary to continue the entries elsewhere in the register. In each case, the National Archives has filmed the register in correct order so that these breaks do not appear on the microfilm. There are also breaks in the pagination of some registers because blank numbered pages were not filmed.

From time to time the clerks in the Commissioner's Office made errors in entering letters received in the registers. Some numbers in the sequences of assigned numbers were inadvertently omitted; consequently, there are no letters bearing such numbers. Occasionally registry numbers were repeated, giving two different letters the same file designation. The clerks usually added "1/2" to the second designation; but in cases where this correction was not made, the National Archives has added in brackets, "No. 1" and "No. 2," respectively.

Many symbols, cross–references, and abbreviations were entered in the registers by the Commissioner's Office and by the National Archives. The latter has stamped an asterisk (-"-) near the entry number for letters that are still in the series of letters received. The notation "F/W" before a cross–reference indicates that the letter received is filed with a related letter. There are some references to other series of records in the Commissioner's Office. The notations "LB" and "PLB" refer to the letter book and press letter book series of outgoing letters, and "EB" and "SO" refer to endorsement books and special orders, respectively.

Although a separate series of Endorsement Books was kept by Commissioner Howard's office, the endorsements from October 1865 to August 1866 were copied into the registers of letters received and are reproduced in this microcopy.

Two consolidated indexes, a general name index and a general subject index, are filmed on roll 1 of this microcopy. The general name index covers registers 1 – 12 and "A – H" of register 13; the general subject index covers registers 1 – 13. In the latter index the subject is entered alphabetically by initial letter. The entry identifies the letter received pertaining to a specific subject by giving either the number of the register and the file citation of the letter, or the register number and page number in the register on which the letter is entered.

Also reproduced are separate name and subject indexes to many of the registers. Neither kind of index exists for entries A – M in registers 4 and 5. Some of the indexes are bound in the registers; others are bound as separate volumes. On each roll the index has been filmed before the register to which it relates.

The registers reproduced in this microcopy were arranged in rough chronological order and numbered in sequence, but no volume numbers were assigned to the index books. Later all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers, which appear in parentheses in this microfilm publication and which are useful in identifying the volume.

The letters reproduced are arranged by order of their entry in the registers. According to the custom of other War Department offices, the Freedmen's Bureau generally filed correspondence under the name of the office of origin rather than the name of the writer. Letters from local agents and superintendents of Baton Rouge, for example, were forwarded through the Office of the Assistant Commissioner of Louisiana, and upon receipt in the central office at Washington they were entered in the register under "L" for Louisiana.

The file citation that appears on the back of registered letters is taken from the entry number in the register. In a citation such as "S 204 BRF&AL Vol. 9 1867," "S" is the initial letter of the correspondent's name or office; the number "204" indicates that it is the 204th letter recorded under "S"; "BRF&AL," that it was received by the Commissioner's Office; "Vol. 9," the register in which the letter was entered; and "1867," the year in which the letter was written.

Enclosures such as reports, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and printed publications were often registered and filed with their letters of transmittal. When the Commissioner's Office received a letter accompanied by enclosures, the clerks usually mentioned them in the register and on the back of the letter and indicated the number of enclosures.

Some letters, reports, and enclosures originally filed with the letters received are no longer in this series. Each of the Commissioner's staff offices maintained its own series of registers and letters received. Correspondence and reports received by Commissioner Howard were occasionally referred to staff offices and became part of their permanent records. Not all enclosures are filed with their letters of transmittal. Enclosures containing information that the central office wanted to keep together, such as reports on schools, lands, rations, and operations, were sometimes separated from their letters of transmittal and filed elsewhere in separate series. For this reason some of the reports that are registered as letters received and bear the file citation of the Office of the Commissioner are not among the series filmed in this microcopy.

Because the registers frequently were used to record the disposition of documents, they are useful in tracing documents that have been removed from the file. By 1871 the Commissioner's Office had added an "action" column to the register for this purpose, but even the earlier registers include such information as the name of the official or office to which a letter was referred, a cross–reference to indicate consolidation with other letters, and the disposition of enclosures.

A few letters received that were not registered and a few unidentified enclosures that were separated from their letters of transmittal have been arranged by year and are filmed on the last roll of this microcopy.

In the same record group as the documents described above are related records. Letters sent, endorsements sent, circulars issued, and special orders issued by the Commissioner are in Selected Series of Records Issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872 (Microcopy 742). There also are several series of reports and returns received by the Commissioner and records of staff and field offices.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M752
See more items in:
Registers and Letters Received by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m752

Frederick Douglass Home

Creator:
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Frederick Douglass Memorial Home  Search this
United States.. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 54th (1863-1865)  Search this
Brown, John, 1800-1859  Search this
Bruce, Blanche Kelso, 1841-1898  Search this
Cardozo, Francis Lewis, 1837-1903  Search this
Douglass, Anna Murray, -1882  Search this
Douglass, Frederick, 1817?-1895  Search this
Douglass, Helen, 1838-1903  Search this
Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879  Search this
Langston, John Mercer, 1829-1897  Search this
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865  Search this
Sewall, May Wright, 1844-1920  Search this
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910  Search this
Collection Creator:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
1 sound recording (cartridge, 1/4 inch)
Culture:
African American  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Narration
Place:
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Talbot County (Md.)
New Bedford (Mass.)
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
Rochester (N.Y.)
United States
England
Date:
1973
Scope and Contents:
Narrator provides an overview of abolitionist Frederick Douglass' life, work, and spirit from his birth as a slave in Talbot County, Maryland to his death in Washington, D.C. Douglass' experiences with racial prejudice and segregation as well as his involvement in the Underground Railroad and civil rights movements, including women's rights, are explored. Douglass lived in New Bedford (Mass.), Rochester (N.Y.), the neighborhood of Anacostia in Washington, D.C., and England, where he fled for two years after writing "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" in 1845. Douglass and his son Frederick Jr. recruited black men for the Civil War while his sons Lewis and Charles joined the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. While championing many reform causes, Douglass worked alongside William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Blanche Kelso Bruce, John Mercer Langston, Francis Cardozo, and May Wright Sewall.
Narration. Part of ACM Museum Events, PR, and Ceremonies Recordings. AV002692-1 and AV002692-2: same content. AV002692-1: sound beeps throughout recording. Dated 19731201.
Biographical / Historical:
Frederick Douglass Memorial Home was built between 1855 and 1859 for John Welsh Van Hook, an architect from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Uniontown (also known as Anacostia). In 1877, Frederick Douglass purchased the home and 9 3/4 acres of land, which he named Cedar Hill. Over several years, Douglass purchased additional land and converted the home into a 21 room mansion. In 1900, Douglass' second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, urged U.S. Congress to charter the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, which received the property in 1903 upon Helen's death. On September 5, 1962, the Frederick Douglass estate became a part of the National Park Service. Groundbreaking ceremonies for a visitor center were held in September 1980. The visitor center opened to the public in February 1982. Douglass' home and estate became a National Historic Site in 1988 and underwent several restorations between 1922 and 2007.;Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was born into slavery on Maryland's Eastern Shore but fled north in 1838 to settle in Massachussetts. He soon became an abolitionist in the antislavery movement, and by the mid-1840s his commanding eloquence in offering firsthand testimony to the oppressions of slavery had transformed him into one of the movement's most persuasive spokesmen. Douglass' reforming zeal remained strong all his life. After the Civil War put an end to slavery, he continued to be a leading defender of the rights of African Americans during Reconstruction.
Local Numbers:
ACMA AV002692-2
General:
Title transcribed from physical asset.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at acmarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
African American abolitionists  Search this
Abolitionists  Search this
Civil rights  Search this
Civil rights leaders  Search this
Antislavery movements  Search this
Civil rights movements  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Underground Railroad  Search this
Racism  Search this
Race discrimination  Search this
Segregation  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Women's rights  Search this
Historic sites  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Narration
Collection Citation:
Anacostia Community Museum Programs and Projects, 1967-1989, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.09-023, Item ACMA AV002692-1
See more items in:
Museum Events, Programs, and Projects, 1967-1989
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-09-023-ref514

The Ballad of the Black Dragon Rehearsal

Creator:
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Douglass, Frederick, 1817?-1895  Search this
Collection Creator:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
1 sound recording (open reel, 1/4 inch)
Culture:
African American  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Drama
Place:
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
United States
Date:
circa 1970s
Scope and Contents:
Dramatic performance of The Ballad of the Black Dragon, a play based on the life and work of Frederick Douglass. Includes excerpts of speeches delivered by Douglass. Recording does not contain entire play.
Performance. Poor sound quality. Part of ACM Museum Events, PR, and Ceremonies Recordings. Undated.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at acmarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Abolitionists  Search this
African American abolitionists  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Slaves  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Drama
Citation:
The Ballad of the Black Dragon Rehearsal, Record Group AV09-023, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.09-023, Item ACMA AV003500-2
See more items in:
Museum Events, Programs, and Projects, 1967-1989
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-09-023-ref648

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1872

Extent:
111 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1863–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 111 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1905. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the staff officers of the Assistant Commissioner and the subordinate field offices of the Louisiana headquarters of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1872. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records containing materials that include letters sent and received, monthly reports, registers of complaints, labor contracts, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and bounty payments.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. All volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this microfilm publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, letters and orders received, registers of freedmen court cases, special orders and circulars issued, registers of claimants, registers of complaints, marriage certificates, and monthly reports forwarded to the Assistant Commissioner. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, and general orders and circulars received. The unbound records also contain monthly reports, labor contracts, marriage certificates, and records relating to claims.

Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers of that period. On Roll 67, for example, the volume of applications for laborers for Bragg Home Colony also contains a register of complaints. Some other examples of additional series within volumes can be found in records on Rolls 72, 78, and others. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these documents.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1905.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self–sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non-Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress, approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN LOUISIANA

ORGANIZATION

On June 13, 1865, Commissioner Oliver Otis Howard appointed Chaplain Thomas W. Conway as the Assistant Commissioner for Louisiana. At the time of his appointment, Conway headed the military's Louisiana Bureau of Free Labor, which managed the affairs of freedmen employed on "Abandoned" plantations. Conway transferred the Bureau of Free Labor to the newly established Freedmen's Bureau Louisiana headquarters at New Orleans. The parishes of Madison, Carroll, Concordia, and Tenasas in northeastern Louisiana were reassigned in January 1866 from the jurisdiction of the Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi to that of the Assistant Commissioner for Louisiana. The other Assistant Commissioners or Acting Assistant Commissioners in Louisiana and their terms of office were Gen. James S. Fullerton, October 4 – 18, 1865; Gen. Absalom Baird, October 19, 1865–September 1866; Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, October 5–November 27, 1866; Gen. Joseph A. Mower, November 28, 1866–December 4, 1867; Lt. Col. William H. Wood, December 5, 1867–January 2, 1868; Gen. R. C. Buchanan, January 3–August 24, 1868; and Gen. Edward Hatch, August 25, 1868–January 1, 1869.

When Conway took over as Assistant Commissioner, the state was divided into districts that were composed of one to three parishes and commanded by either an agent or superintendent. In April 1867, the state was reorganized into seven subdistricts headed by subassistant commissioners. Subassistant commissioners were required to file monthly inspection reports of their respective jurisdictions with the Assistant Commissioner. Agents or assistant subassistant commissioners, who were responsible for one to two parishes, received their instructions from and reported to subassistant commissioners. The major subordinate field offices for the Bureau in Louisiana included those with headquarters at Baton Rouge, Franklin, Monroe, Natchitoches, New Orleans, Shreveport, and Vidalia. For a list of known Louisiana subordinate field office personnel and their dates of service, see the appendix.

ACTIVITIES

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau field office in Louisiana generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau provided various forms of relief to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts, assisted freedmen in the establishment of schools, administered justice, helped freedmen locate land, and assisted blacks with military claims for back pay, bounty payments, and pensions.

Between June and September 1865, the Bureau in Louisiana issued some 455,290 rations to destitute freedmen and 157,691 to white refugees. With no appropriated funds from Congress, the Bureau relied on several sources to carry out these activities: income from confiscated property, requisitioned supplies from the army, aid from benevolent societies, and a three–dollar tax on black adult laborers. Despite the Bureau's efforts, however, tens of thousands of freedmen and refugees remained in dire straits throughout the state. The lack of available funds, continuous flooding, crop failures, and disease severely hampered the Bureau's relief programs. On March 30, 1867, Congress appropriated monies for a "Special Relief Fund" (15 Stat. 28). The fund authorized the Secretary of War, through the Freedmen's Bureau, to issue provisions and rations to destitute persons in Southern states, including Louisiana.

In response to the act, Commissioner Howard issued a circular on April 3, 1867 (Circular Number 11), that set aside $500,000 for the purpose.1 The agency maintained homes for refugees and orphans. Hundreds of refugees were housed in two hotels in New Orleans (the Commercial and the Western Verandah) and later the Marine Hospital. While most of the residents were from Louisiana, some were from Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Beginning in 1865, the Bureau provided assistance to several privately run orphan asylums in New Orleans and other areas of the state until its work for orphans was discontinued in September 1865. The Bureau also provided medical aid to freedmen and white refugees. In 1866, to help combat such diseases as cholera, yellow fever, and smallpox, seven doctors, on average, served under the Bureau in Louisiana: five at the New Orleans hospital and one at both the Shreveport hospital and the Rost Home Colony. The Bureau also maintained numerous dispensaries throughout the state. In spite of the closure of the Rost Home Colony hospital and most of the Bureau's dispensaries by the end of 1867, the agency in 1868 treated more than 8,500 freedmen for various infectious diseases. At the Rost Home Colony—one of the most successful of the four "Home Colonies" established in Louisiana—Bureau officials also issued rations and clothing, established a school, provided employment, and compiled a variety of personal data about individuals who arrived and departed from the Colony. Both the New Orleans and the Shreveport hospitals maintained registers of patients and the sick and wounded.2

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau. In a circular issued on December 4, 1865 (Circular Number 29), Bureau officials in Louisiana outlined the rules governing the free labor system in the state. Freedmen could choose their employers, and all contracts were to be approved by a Bureau agent. Wages were not set, but the circular declared that it was the freedmen's "Duty" to "obtain the best terms they can for their labor." Freedmen were required to work 26 days per month, consisting of 10–hour days in the summer and 9–hour days in the winter. Any work time exceeding 6 hours beyond the normal workday would constitute an additional day's work. In addition to wages, freedmen were also entitled to receive rations, clothing, "Comfortable" living quarters, and medical attention, and each family was to receive a half–acre plot to maintain a garden. Five percent of the freedman's monthly wages was to be retained by the employer for the purpose of sustaining schools for the freedman's children. In cases where freedmen desired to work for a share of the crop, employers were required to have sufficient amounts of provisions available for freedmen and their families each month. Also, employers who entered into share agreements were obligated to pay Bureau agents 1/20 of the amount of the freedmen's share of the crop each month for the benefit of freedmen schools.3

In the two years following the April 1862 occupation of New Orleans by Union troops, various civilian and military organizations established schools to educate freedmen in Louisiana. Gen. Nathaniel Banks's order of March 22, 1864 (Department of the Gulf General Order 38), established a board of education to govern the organization of freedmen's schools. B. Rush Plumly was appointed head of the board, and Lt. Edwin M. Wheelock became supervisor. Schools under the board's jurisdiction were supported mainly by a tax on citizens recently disloyal to the Union. On June 29, 1865, Assistant Commissioner Conway took charge of the schools, and on July 5, 1865, replaced Plumly and Wheelock with Capt. H. R. Pease as superintendent of education. Pease's successors included Bvt. Maj. A. G. Studer, Lt. F. R. Chase, J. M. Lee, L. O. Parker, H. H. Pierce, and E. W. Mason.

Pease divided the state into seven school districts, placing military and civilian personnel in charge. Under these officers were school directors responsible for each parish and "Canvassers" who collected the school tax for each district. At the time of his arrival, there were some 126 freedmen schools, with 230 teachers and approximately 19,000 students. However, with limited funds and intense opposition to the school tax, Circular Number 34, dated December 27, 1865, directed that all schools be "suspended until such time as it may be found practicable to re-establish them on a permanent and self–supporting basis."4

In February 1866, then–Assistant Commissioner Baird sought to make schools self–supporting through a tuition plan. Despite Baird's new plan and congressional appropriations of 1866 and 1867 for freedmen education in the South, the Freedmen's Bureau's educational programs in Louisiana continued to face financial difficulties. In June 1868, Congress authorized the Bureau to sell school buildings to private groups that were willing to maintain freedmen schools, and the Bureau entered into cooperative agreements with such groups as the American Missionary Society, the Methodist Freedmen's Aid Society, and the Free Mission Baptists. Under the agreements, the Bureau provided monies for construction of the school buildings, and the religious organizations maintained the schools. In 1870, the cooperation between the Bureau and religious groups led to significant progress in the establishment of numerous freedmen schools in Louisiana. Despite their efforts however, freedmen schools continued to suffer from the effects of limited resources, lack of competent teachers, and a segregated school system.5

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was of paramount concern to the Freedmen's Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states enacted a series of laws, commonly known as "Black Codes," that restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes, and in some instances were unable to get their cases heard in state courts. Assistant Commissioners were directed to "adjudicate, either themselves or through officers of their appointment, all difficulties arising between Negroes themselves, or between Negroes and whites or Indians."6 Assistant Commissioner Conway issued Circular Number 15 (September 15, 1865), authorizing his subordinates to establish freedmen courts in cases where freedmen were not receiving just treatment. Conway's successors—Fullerton, Baird, and Sheridan—believed that civil officers in most parishes administered justice impartially in freedmen cases, and so abolished the special tribunals as unnecessary. Nevertheless, Bureau officers were still required to represent freedmen in court cases and refer the most extreme cases of injustice to United States courts. In the latter part of 1866, fearing that freedmen's rights were not being adequately protected, Assistant Commissioner Joseph Mower re–instituted some Bureau judicial functions that had been previously suspended by his predecessors. William H. Wood, who succeeded Mower, told Bureau agents during his tenure that only in cases where the evidence clearly showed the civil court's failure to administer justice, were they to become involved. Wood's replacement, Gen. Robert C. Buchanan, like Fullerton, Baird, and Sheridan, continued the policy of leaving matters of justice to civil authorities. By the time Gen. Edward Hatch assumed office as Assistant Commissioner in 1868, Louisiana had restored its constitutional relations with the Federal Government, and matters concerning justice were returned to the state.7

The Southern Homestead Act (14 Stat. 66), approved by Congress on June 21, 1866, made available for public settlement 46 million acres of public lands in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Six million acres of this Federal land was located in Louisiana. The act specifically prohibited discrimination against applicants due to race, and thus offered Louisiana freedmen and others an opportunity to become landowners. Only persons who headed households or were former United States soldiers were eligible to apply. A five–dollar application fee was required of all applicants, which allowed them to settle on an 80–acre tract and gain permanent possession after five years of cultivation. Generally, the Freedmen's Bureau, through "Locating Agents," assisted interested freedmen in finding plots, and provided them with one-month subsistence, free transportation to their prospective tracts of land, and seeds for initial planting. By January 1867, J. J. Saville, as locating agent, found homesteads for 87 freedmen, 73 whites, and 14 soldiers. However, because the New Orleans land office was closed, only 7 were able to file applications. While limited resources and the lack of suitable lands for settlement hindered freedmen in their effort to acquire land, freedmen also faced intense opposition from whites who opposed black land ownership. Freedmen were thus encouraged by Bureau officials in Louisiana to settle on land in large numbers in order to protect themselves from intense opposition by whites.8

An act of Congress on June 14, 1864, authorized the payment of bounties, not to exceed $100, to black soldiers who had entered the military after June 15, 1864, and who were free on April 19, 1861 (14 Stat. 126). Amendments in 1866 dropped the requirement of freedom at enlistment and offered additional bounties of $100 for those blacks who had signed on for three years, and $50 for individuals who enlisted for two years. To assist black soldiers and their heirs in filing bounty and other military claims against the Federal Government, a claims agency was initially established in the United States Sanitary Commission. On July 14, 1865, Commissioner Howard authorized Freedmen's Bureau officials to act as agents of the Commission and to assist it in filing for black military claims. However, freedmen often rejected the free services of the agency and paid fees to private claims agents, believing that they would receive their money quicker. In 1867, concerned about abuse and fraud in the settlement of black military claims, Congress passed a law making the Freedmen's Bureau the sole agent for payment of claims of black veterans (15 Stat. 26). From October 31, 1866, through September 30, 1867, the Bureau in Louisiana settled claims amounting to just $1,489.73. However, one year later, 240 veterans' claims amounting to $52,058 were settled, with 484 remaining to be resolved.9

ENDNOTES

1 Howard A. White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1970), 64 – 76.

2 Ibid., 76 – 85; For a discussion of the establishment and activities at Rost Home Colony, see Michael F. Knight, "The Rost Home Colony: St. Charles Parish, Louisiana," Prologue 33, No. 1 (Fall 2001): 214 – 220; Records relating to the Freedmen's hospital at New Orleans have been reproduced on Records of the New Orleans Field Offices, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1483, Rolls 1 – 7); For Shreveport hospital records, see Roll 101 in this publication.

3 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 30 – 33.

4 White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, pp. 166 – 175; See also House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 35 – 36.

5 White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, 176 – 200.

6 House Ex. Doc. 11, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1255, pp. 45 – 46.

7 White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, 134 – 165.

8 Ibid., 59 – 63.

9 Howard A. White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, pp. 160 – 162; See also, Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Louisiana, October 5, 1868 [pp. 19 – 20], Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Record Group 105, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Louisiana:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at the Plantation Department and selected subordinate field offices in Louisiana. Where noted, officers served at two locations. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment–related records.

PLANTATION DEPARTMENT

July 1865–May 1866 -- Superintendent Capt. Frank Bagley

May–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent C. R. Stickney

Oct. 1866–June 1867 -- Assistant Quartermaster W. B. Armstrong

ABBEVILLE

Apr. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. N. Murtagh

ALEXANDRIA

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent S. G. Williams

May–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner S. G. Williams

Nov. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Buttrick

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. P. Hathaway

ALGIERS

May 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen William E. Dougherty

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent Richard Folles

Apr. 1867–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Richard Folles

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Isaac Stathem

AMITE

Sept.–Dec. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent H. H. Rouse

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Edward Ehrlich

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent W. K. Tillotson

Apr.–Nov. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent James Hough

Nov. 1866–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James Hough

May–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George F. Austin

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Joseph D. Buckley

BATON ROUGE

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict George F. Schager

July 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict William H. Webster

Jan.–June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict Frank D. Garretty

July–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict Charles Hill

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent M. J. Sheridan

July 1866 -- Agent E. C. Phetteplace

Oct. 1866 -- Agent Abner Doane

Jan.–May 1867 -- Agent William H. Webster

July 1867-Jan.1869 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William H. Webster

Feb.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Inness

June–July 1968 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles Hill

July–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner S.H.B. Schoonmaker

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. Woods Coleman

BAYOU SARA

Dec. 1865 -- Agent C. W. Hawes

Jan. 1865–May 1866 -- Agent A. H. Nickerson

May–Sept. 1866 -- Agent G. M. Ebert

Sept.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent Richard M. Leake

Nov.–Dec. 1866 -- Agent Alexander M. Massie

Jan.–May 1867 -- Agent E. T. Lewis

May–June 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. T. Lewis

June–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. Finch

Oct. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. Finch (also St. Francisville)

Mar.–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George C. Dunwell (also St. Francisville)

May–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Robert M. Davis

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner F. W. Gibson (also St. Francisville)

CARROLLTON

Apr.–May 1867 -- Agent Elijah Guion

May–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. J. Saville

Sept. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Bruning

May–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Wright

CLINTON

Feb. 1866 -- Agent A. W. Hayes

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent James DeGrey

Apr. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James DeGrey

May–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George C. Dunwell

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. E. Barton

COLUMBIA

Feb.–Dec. 1866 -- Agent William H. Webster

Dec. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent William M. Todd

Apr.–July 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William M. Todd

Aug. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. J. Sullivan

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles De Lowenstrom

DONALDSONVILLE

Feb. 1866 -- Agent A. Milliken

Mar.–June 1866 -- Agent St. Clair Mandeville

June–July 1866 -- Agent Henry Krause

Aug.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent Alexander M. Massie

Mar. 1866 -- Agent J. D. Rich (also St. James)

Apr.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent John H. Brough (also St. James)

Nov. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent John H. Brough (also Donaldsonville)

Apr. 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John H. Brough

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Victor Benthien

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James H. Dobie

FRANKLIN

June–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict S. W. Purchase

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict J. W. Keller

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict W. F. Lynch

Feb.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict William H. Webster

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict Victor Benthien

Dec. 1864–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal Sidney E. Shepard (also Brashear City)

July–Sept. 1865 -- Provost Marshal Sidney E. Shepard (also Franklin)

Sept. 1865 -- Provost Marshal E. P. Bishop

Sept.1865–Jan 1866 -- Provost Marshal Charles E. Merrill

Jan.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent Charles E. Merrill

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent J. W. Keller

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. W. Keller

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George C. Dunwell

Feb.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner R. W. Mullen

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. F. Loan

HAMMOND STATION

May–July 1866 -- Agent James A. Hudson (also Springfield)

June–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Francis Garrett (also Hammond Station)

Nov. 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner P. H. Murphy

HOMER

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Stokes

HOUMA

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent George H. Harris

Jan.–May 1866 -- Agent Henry S. Wadsworth

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent George A. Ludlow

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George A. Ludlow

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Woods

July–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner M. W. Morris

JESUITS BEND

Jan.–Apr. 1863 -- Provost Marshal Silas Sawyer (also St. Bernard Parish)

Aug.–Oct. 1864 -- Provost Marshal William Bragg

Oct.–Nov. 1864 -- Provost Marshal Capt. George Breuning

May 1864–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal Lt. Charles Brooks

Sept.–Dec. 1865 -- Provost Marshal Charles W. Gardiner (also De Cros Station)

Feb.–June 1866 -- Agent Charles W. Gardiner

June 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Agent George F. Schayer (also Aliance Plantation)

Apr. 1867 -- Agent George F. Schayer

May–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Theodore Jaques

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward S. Wilson

Jan.–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. H. Hosner

LAKE PROVIDENCE

Jan. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent George W. Rollins

May–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George W. Rollins

Oct. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas H. Hannon

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. H. Masters

MADISONVILLE

Oct. 1866 -- Agent A. J. Rose

Nov. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent W. H. R. Hangen

May 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. H. R. Hangen

Sept.–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. H. R. Hangen (also Covington)

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas H. Jenks, Jr. (also Covington)

MANSFIELD

Mar. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. J. Walsh

May–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Michael Cary

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Henderson

MARKSVILLE

Mar–Aug. 1866 -- Agent Amos S. Collins (also Evergreen)

Aug. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent Amos S. Collins (also Marksville)

May 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Amos S. Collins

May–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Cyrus H. Ross

MILLIKEN BEND

May 1864 -- Assistant Provost Marshal D. McCall

Nov.–Dec. 1864 -- Provost Marshal Benjamin F. Cheney

May–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner C. P. Varney

Sept.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner T. F. Cummins

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner A. J. Baby

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner John S. Shaw

MONROE

Mar. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of 5th Subdistrict Samuel C. Gold

Mar. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of 5th Subdistrict W. W. Webb

Aug.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of 5th Subdistrict John H. Bowen

Sept.–Oct 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Frank Morey

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Agent J. H. Wisner

Apr. 1866 -- Agent H. A. Pease

May 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Agent Joseph Burns

Feb.–June 1867 -- Agent Frank Morey

June–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles C. Swenson

Nov. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. R. Wheyland

Apr.–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward K. Russ

Aug.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward K. Russ (also Trenton)

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. L. Irwin (also Trenton)

MONTGOMERY

June 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner D. W. White

NAPOLEONVILLE

May–Nov. 1865 -- Provost Marshal J. W. Greene

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Agent Francis S. Dodge

Feb. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent A. C. Ellis

May–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner O. H. Hempstead, Jr.

Nov. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John W. Sword

May–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Julius Lovell

NATCHITOCHES

June 1867–May 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict James Cromie

May–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict Isaac N. Walter

July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict N. B. McLaughlin

July–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict G. A. Hewlett

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict Theodore W. De Klyne

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent W. H. Henderson

May 1866–May 1867 -- Agent James Comie

May 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles Miller

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. H. Hosner

NEW IBERIA

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Agent Edmund C. Burt (also St. Martinsville)

Jan. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent William H. Cornelius (also St. Martinsville)

Apr.–July 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William H. Cornelius (also St. Martinsville)

Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner I. W. Keller (and A. A. C. Leblanc, Clerk, St. Martinsville)

Sept.–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner L. Jolissaint

Nov. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John T. White

NEW ORLEANS

May 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank A. N. Murtagh

June–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank L. Jolissaint

Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank W. H. Cornelius

Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank John T. White

Nov. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank L. Jolissaint

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes Ira D. M. McClary (also Kenilworth Plantation)

Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes Oscare A. Rice (also Chofield Plantation)

Jan.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes P. J. Smalley (also Chofield Plantation and P. O. Lock Box 841)

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes H. M. Whittmore (also Merritts Plantation)

NEW ROADS

Mar. 1866 -- Agent Thomas H. Hopwood (see Labatuts Landing)

Apr.–July 1866 -- Agent Thomas H. Hopwood

July 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent H. F. Wallace

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. F. Wallace

Nov. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner M. Basso (also Point Coupee)

Feb.–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner C. J. Lorigan (also Waterloo)

Apr.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner C. J. Lorigan (also New Roads and Waterloo)

July–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Victor Benthien

PLAQUEMINE

Jan. 1865 -- Provost Marshal M. Masicot

Feb.–Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshal Nelson Kenyon

Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshal James M. Eddy

Dec. 1865 -- Agent A. R. Houston

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent J. C. Stimmell

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent F. A. Osbourn

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner F. A. Osbourn

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. Charles Merrill

ST. JOSEPH

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Agent David L. Jones

Nov. 1865 -- Agent A. Roberts

Nov.–Dec. 1865 -- Agent A. Hemingway

Jan.–Feb. 1866 -- Agent R. D. Mitchell

Feb. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent J. H. Hastings

Apr.–May 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Hastings

May 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Henderson

SHREVEPORT

May 1867–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 7th Subdistrict Martin Flood

Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 7th Subdistrict Frank D. Garretty

Oct.–Dec. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent D. H. Reese

Dec. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent L. Horrigan

May–June 1866 -- Agent E. E. Williams

June 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent William P. Hagardon

June 1866–May 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Martin Flood

May 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas F. Monroe

Sept. 1869–Sept. 1870 -- Superintendent of Education James McCleery

SPARTA

Dec. 1866–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Dewees

Feb.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Schayer

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Newell Bean

THIBODEAUX

Aug. 1866 -- Agent C. P. M. Taggart

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Agent S. A. Kohly

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Agent J. D. Rich

May–June 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. D. Rich

June–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. A. A. Robinson

Nov. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Francis Sternberg

Apr.–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Nelson Bronson

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner I. H. Van Antwerp

Oct.–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William S. MacKenzie

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Hollenback

TRINITY

May 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner M. Johnson Lemmon (also Prairie Landing)

Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. H. H. Camp (also Mossy Farm Plantation)

Sept.–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. H. H. Camp (also Trinity)

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Van R. K. Hilliard

VERMILLIONVILLE

Jan. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent S. W. Purchase

May 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner S. W. Purchase

May 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Lindemann

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Oscar A. Rice

VERNON

May 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. Bishop

VIDALIA

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict J. H. Hastings (also St. Joseph)

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict J. H. Hastings (also Vidalia)

Nov. 1867–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict George W. Rollins

July–Aug 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict Frank D. Garretty

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict George W. Rollins

Aug.–Sept. 1865 -- Agent J. H. West

Feb. 1868–Apr. 1867 -- Agent B. B. Brown

Apr.–June 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner B. B. Brown

June–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George H. Dunford

Sept. 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Christian Rush

July–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Alexander Hamilton
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1905
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1905

Slavery and emancipation / edited by Rick Halpern and Enrico Dal Lago

Author:
Halpern, Rick http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n94048019 http://viaf.org/viaf/27293005/  Search this
Dal Lago, Enrico 1966- http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n2001041294 http://viaf.org/viaf/25746897/  Search this
Physical description:
1 online resource (xv, 416 pages)
Type:
Sources
Electronic books
History
Place:
United States
Southern States
Date:
2002
Topic:
Slavery--History  Search this
Plantation life--History  Search this
Slaves--Emancipation  Search this
Slaves--Emancipation--History  Search this
SOCIAL SCIENCE--Slavery  Search this
Plantation life  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Slavernij  Search this
Emancipatie  Search this
Call number:
E441 .S6185 2002 (Internet)
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1122312

Records of the New Orleans Field Offices, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869

Extent:
10 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1869
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 10 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1483. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the New Orleans area field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands for Iberville, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and West Baton Rouge Parishes, together with those of the Freedmen's Hospital, 1865–69. These records, consist of 38 bound volumes and approximately 6.5 linear feet of unbound records. The volumes include letters and endorsements sent, registers of letters received, circulars and special orders, journals, registers of patients, reports of occupancy and conditions in the Freedmen's Hospital, and abstracts of internments in the Freedmen's Cemetery. The unbound documents consist primarily of letters received, morning reports of sick and wounded in the Freedmen's Hospital, and various field office reports. There is also a register of patients in the Corps d'Afrique General Hospital, 1863–1865.
Records Description:
When the Freedmen's Bureau was abolished, its records were sent to the Office of the Adjutant General. Here clerks arranged the state–level records by administrative unit and the local records alphabetically by the location of the office that created them, and then numbered the bound volumes from each state in a single numerical sequence, beginning with the office of the assistant commissioner and then working down to the offices of the assistant subassistant commissioners. In these notes and the table of contents, the Adjutant General's Office numbers appear in parentheses as an aid in identifying the volumes. In general, documents in this microfilm publication have been filmed in the order imposed by the Adjutant General's Office Occasionally, clerks arranged volumes incorrectly and assigned numbers that do not reflect the sequence in which the volumes were actually created. For example, Volume 412 should precede Volume 405, and Volume 419 should follow Volume 420.

There is considerable variation in the remaining records from individual Freedmen's Bureau field offices. Some offices retained reference copies of reports they submitted to state headquarters; others did not. Some records were evidently removed or destroyed.

Nonetheless there are fundamental similarities between the records of local offices and the following remarks are generally applicable to all the records reproduced on this microfilm publication.

The letters received and copies of the letters sent constitute much of the surviving documentation of the bureau's field operations. Reflecting the scope of the bureau's responsibilities, correspondence between its local officers and other government officials and private citizens dealt with labor contracts between freedmen and planters, legal cases, child custody questions, locating and transporting freedmen, reducing illness and destitution among freedmen, and such matters as the finances, personnel, equipment, and procedures of Freedmen's Bureau offices.

In addition to the letters sent and received, another important series of local office records are the various reports submitted to higher headquarters. The trimonthly reports, mandated by Circular No. 36 (Dec. 30, 1865), which were due on the 10th, 20th, and final day of each month, concern the economic, psychological, and moral state of freedmen; plantation labor contracts and crops; actions taken on various problems referred to the local Freedmen's Bureau official; distribution of rations; freedmen's schools; and race relations in general.

The Freedmen's Bureau also used several types of issuances to disseminate information. General orders and circulars (or circular letters) related to matters of general interest, including implementation of bureau policies throughout the state, duties of subordinate personnel, administrative procedures, issuances of the bureau's national headquarters, acts of Congress, and the appointment or relief of staff officers. Special orders were used to communicate information of less general interest, such as duty assignments of individual officers.

Local Louisiana Freedmen's Bureau offices maintained files in accordance with characteristic 19th–century record–keeping practices. Fair copies of outgoing letters were transcribed in letter books. Replies to incoming letters were frequently written on the letters themselves or on specially prepared wrappers. These replies, known as endorsements, were subsequently copied into endorsement books. The endorsed letter was either filed, returned to the sender, or forwarded to another office. Endorsement books usually included a summary of the incoming letter and sometimes a summary of previous endorsements inscribed on it. A summary of an incoming communication was normally entered in a register of letters received. In addition to a summary of the contents of the incoming letter, these register entries usually indicated the name (and sometimes the office) of the writer, the date of the letter and date of receipt, its place of origin, and the entry number assigned it by the receiving office. The incoming letters were folded for filing, usually in three segments; information recorded in the registers was transcribed on the outside flap of the letter.

Freedmen's Bureau clerks used abbreviations such as "L. R." (letters received), "L. S." (letters sent), and "E. B." (endorsement book). Since the application of these abbreviations varied from office to office, explanations of indexing and cross–referencing practices are given in the series listings in connection with the records to which they pertain.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1483.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Freedmen's Bureau, as the bureau was commonly known, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507), and extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, appointed commissioner by the President in May 1865, served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). Although the bureau was a part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. Bureau officials cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to the destitute and in maintaining freedmen's" schools; supervised labor contracts between black employees and white employers; helped black soldiers and sailors collect bounty claims, pension, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and property.

The act of March 3, 1865, also authorized the appointment of assistant commissioners to aid the commissioner in supervising the work of the bureau in the southern states. In Louisiana, operations began in June 1865 when Assistant Commissioner Thomas W. Conway established his headquarters in New Orleans. The names and terms of the other assistant commissioners or acting assistant commissioners in Louisiana we're: Gen. James S. Fullerton, October 4 – 18, 1865; Gen. Absalom Baird, October 19, 1865–September 7, 1866; Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, October 5–November 27, 1866; Gen. Joseph A. Mower, November 28, 1866–December 4, 1867; Lt. Col. William H. Wood, December 5, 1867–January 2, 1868; Gen. Robert C. Buchanan, January 3–August 24, 1868; and Gen. Edward Hatch, August 25, 1868–January 1, 1869. In accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), bureau operations within the states were terminated on January 1, 1869, except for educational functions and the collection of claims.

Under Thomas W. Conway, the Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana operated regional offices in Alexandria, Opelousas, and Shreveport. In August 1865 Louisiana was divided into 33 districts. An assistant superintendent of freedmen was appointed to supervise each district. Until these appointments were made, the appropriate provost marshal acted as the assistant superintendent. District assistant superintendents were later called agents.

In April 1867 administration of the Louisiana Freedmen's Bureau was reorganized. The state was divided into seven subdistricts, each under the direction of a subassistant commissioner. The first subdistrict consisted of the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Helena, Livingston, Washington, and St. Tammany. The second subdistrict comprised the parishes of Iberville, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee, East Feliciana, and West Feliciana. Subordinate to the subassistant commissioners were the assistant subassistant commissioners, whose local administrative unit was usually the parish but occasionally included several parishes.

At the parish level, bureau officials were responsible for protecting the rights of freedmen, safeguarding freedmen's schools, and investigating difficulties between freedmen and their employers or other white men. They were ordered to make frequent inspections of the territory under their supervision, to examine and approve labor contracts between freedmen and employers, and to ensure that all terms of such contracts were fully understood by both parties. Parish–level officials periodically reported to state headquarters on such matters as the attitude, conduct, and requirements of freedmen; the type and condition of plantation crops; and the status of local freedmen's schools. In time, these officials acquired new tasks, such as the distribution of rations to indigent and destitute persons.

The New Orleans Freedmen's Hospital, which operated under the supervision of a surgeon–in–chief, the principal medical official of the Louisiana Freedmen's Bureau, was a continuation of a wartime institution. After Union troops captured New Orleans in 1862, federal authorities created several black military organizations to support the northern war effort. The largest of these was the "Corps d'Afrique." But the hospital that took its name from this organization was not primarily a soldiers' hospital, but rather a general hospital for the local black population. The Freedmen's Bureau took charge of most patients in this facility in July 1865, although the Corps d'Afrique hospital remained in operation as a special smallpox ward until its patients and those of the new Freedmen's Hospital were moved into the vacant Marine Hospital that December. The Refugees Home, which had formerly occupied several local hotels, was also moved into the Marine Hospital at this time and became known as the Dependents Home Branch of the Freedmen's Hospital. In April 1866 an orphan asylum, previously operated in New Orleans by a private citizen, was transferred to share the quarters of the Freedmen's Hospital, and the hospital's medical staff subsequently made daily inspections of this orphanage. Difficulties in transferring patients to other facilities delayed the closing of the New Orleans Freedmen's Hospital, which continued operations until June 1869.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Louisiana:
This list provides the names and dates of services of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices for Louisiana. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment–related records.

ORLEANS PARISH LEFT BANK

May 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. N. Murtagh

June–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner L. Jolissaint

Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Cornelius

Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John T. White

Nov. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner L. Jolissaint

NEW ORLEANS FREEDMEN'S HOSPITAL

Aug. 1865 -- Surgeon–in–Charge Samuel Angel

Aug.-Sept. 1865 -- Surgeon–in–Charge E. H. Harris

Sept. 1865-June 1866 -- Surgeon–in–Charge C. W. Brink

July-Oct. 1866 -- Surgeon–in–Charge E. H. Harris

Oct.-Nov. 1866 -- Surgeon–in–Charge David Hershey

Nov. 1866-Mar. 1867 -- Surgeon–in–Charge E. H. Harris

Mar.-May 1867 -- Surgeon–in–Charge David Hershey

June 1867 -- Surgeon–in–Charge David MacKay

June-Aug. 1867 -- Surgeon–in–Charge Henry L. Downs

Aug.-Oct. 1867 -- Surgeon–in–Charge David MacKay

Oct. 1867–May 1868 -- Surgeon–in–Charge William H. Gray

May–June 1868 -- Surgeon–in–Charge David Hershey

June–Dec. 1868 -- Surgeon–in–Charge William H. Gray

Dec. 1868–May 1869 -- Surgeon–in–Charge A. C. Swartzwelder

ST. BERNARD AND PLAQUEMINES PARISHES

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Agent and Subassistant Commissioner Ira D. M. McClary

Jan. 1868 -- Agent and Subassistant Commissioner Oscar A. Rice

Jan.–June 1868 -- Agent and Subassistant Commissioner P. J. Smalley

June–Dec. 1868 -- Agent and Subassistant Commissioner H. M. Whittemore

IBERVILLE AND WEST BATON ROUGE PARISHES

Jan. 1865 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Provost Marshal M. Masicot

Feb.–Oct. 1865 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Provost Marshal Nelson Kenyon

Oct. 1865 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Provost Marshal James M. Eddy

Dec. 1865 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Agent A. R. Houston

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Agent J. C. Stiromell

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Agent F. A. Osbourn

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Assistant Subassistant Commissioner F. A. Osbourn

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Freedmen's Bureau Officer and Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. Charles Merrill
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1483
See more items in:
Records of the New Orleans Field Offices, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1483

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Arkansas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
23 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 23 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1901. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Arkansas staff offices and subordinate field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters and endorsements sent and received, monthly reports, applications of freedmen for rations, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and homesteads.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this microfilm publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, letters and orders received, registers of freedmen issued rations, special orders and circulars issued, registers of bounty claimants, and monthly reports forwarded to the Assistant Commissioner. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, and general orders and circulars received. The unbound records also contain monthly reports; amnesty oaths; applications of freedmen for rations; and records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1901.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. The Bureau's operations began in Arkansas in May 1865, when Brig. Gen. John W. Sprague took command as Assistant Commissioner. By order of Commissioner Howard in Circular No. 5, dated May 30, 1865, he established headquarters at St. Louis, MO, the next month. Bvt. Maj. Gen. Edward O. C. Ord relieved Sprague in October 1866 and was succeeded by Bvt. Maj. Gen. Charles H. Smith in March 1867.

When Sprague arrived in St. Louis, his jurisdiction encompassed areas outside Arkansas, including Missouri, Indian Territory, parts of Kansas (around Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott), and Illinois (around Quincy and Cairo). By September 1865, Commissioner Howard felt that the laws of Missouri afforded enough protection to freedmen for the Bureau's activities to cease there. On October 16, 1865, Sprague received orders from Commissioner Howard to transfer headquarters from St. Louis to Little Rock, Arkansas, and operations of the Bureau were by-in-large withdrawn from Missouri. However, in April 1867 Frederick. A. Seely was assigned as a disbursing officer for Missouri with headquarters at St. Louis, a position he held until February 1872. Although much of Seely's work related to the processing and payment of claims, he was also in charge of freedmen's affairs in Missouri. The headquarters remained in Little Rock until the Bureau's activities were terminated. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts. The major subordinate field offices for the Bureau at Arkansas, for example, included those with headquarters at Arkadelphia, Augusta, Batesville, Camden, Lewisburg, Devall's Bluff, Fort Smith, Hamburg, Hampton, Helena, Jacksonport, Lake Village and Luna Landing, Lewisville, Little Rock, Madison, Magnolia, Marion, Monticello, Napoleon, Osceola, Ozark, Paraclifta, Pine Bluff, Princeton, South Bend, Union, and Washington. Under the direct supervision of the subassistant commissioners were the civilian and military agents. Occasionally, the Bureau retained military officers in a civilian capacity after the termination of their military service. For a list of known Arkansas subordinate field office personnel and their dates of service, see the Appendix.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress, approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

Constrained by limited resources, Southern opposition, and the politics of Reconstruction, the Bureau faced an enormous challenge in its efforts to assist the freedmen and refugees. Its relief efforts, without question, saved thousands of southerners from starvation. Its attempts to assist freedmen to become self-sufficient, to provide public education, administer justice, and, to a lesser degree, to provide land, all worked with varying degrees of success to lessen the difficulties during the transition from slavery to freedom. One of the Bureau's greatest legacies is the body of records it created and received during the course of its operations. These records are arguably some of the most important documents available for the study of the Federal Government's policies, efforts to reconstruct the South, and Southern social history and genealogy.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN ARKANSAS

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in Arkansas and Missouri generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau issued rations to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts between planters and freedmen, administered justice, worked with benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, and assisted freedmen in locating land.

To prevent widespread starvation and destitution in Arkansas and Missouri, the Freedmen's Bureau issued some 1,705,055 rations to both blacks and whites from June 1865 to September 1866. In May 1865, prior to the Bureau's relief efforts in the Arkansas district, the Federal Government had issued 75,097 rations to refugees and 46,845 to destitute freedmen. After late October 1865, the Bureau's ration–relief efforts were discontinued in Missouri. Because civil authorities in the Arkansas district failed to provide medical assistance to the "Destitute and Starving," the Bureau, with assistance from Northern societies, established asylums, hospitals, and various kinds of relief camps. By the fall of 1866, with two commissioned medical officers, contract physicians, and male and female attendants, the Bureau had treated more than 100 refugees and over 1,500 freedmen. In late October 1866, Assistant Commissioner John W. Sprague reported that Arkansas hospitals alone had given medical aid to 3,260 people, nearly 200 of them freedmen. By the end of June 1868, Bureau hospitals in Arkansas had treated four times as many patients as in previous years, and greatly curtailed the attacks of smallpox and cholera.1

The regulation of written labor contracts between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Bureau in Arkansas. In Circular Number 16, issued October 26, 1865, Commissioner Sprague outlined the rules governing the free labor system in Arkansas. Sprague ordered that all contracts in the Arkansas district were to be in writing with the approval of a Bureau official. Labor agreements were not to exceed 1 year, and no fixed rates were to be established. A 10–cent fee paid by the planter was required for each laborer. Generally, men could earn $16 per month, women $10, and children $6. First–class laborers could earn $20 per month, and received room and board, medical attention, and other essentials. In some cases, freedmen worked for a share of the crop. Whatever the agreement, subordinate Bureau officers were required to keep a record of labor contacts that they approved and witnessed, and freedmen were free to seek employment where they wished. Bureau officials often encouraged freedmen to give special consideration to employers who offered schools for their children.2

In response to Commissioner Howard's orders of July 12, 1865, concerning the education of refugees and freedmen, Assistant Commissioner Sprague appointed William M. Colby as general superintendent of refugee and freedmen schools. Colby was instructed "to cooperate with the state authorities and if possible work out a general system of education for those classes." Colby faced a great deal of opposition from southern whites who felt that freedmen taught by "evil emissaries from the North" encouraged social equality, an idea that they vehemently opposed. In spite of this bitter opposition, however, Bureau officials in Arkansas furnished buildings for schools, and sent agents throughout the district to advise freedmen about education. From November 1865 to September 1866, working with such groups as the Indiana Friends and the Western Department of the American Freedmen's Aid Commission, the Bureau paid more than 30 percent of the cost for instructing freedmen in the alphabet, arithmetic, geography, and writing. By the summer of 1868, there were more than 30 teachers and over 1,000 pupils attending some 27 day and night schools. Some 118 teachers were instructing over 1,800 students in 24 Sabbath schools.3

In January 1869, Bvt. Maj. Gen. Charles H. Smith, then Assistant Commissioner for Arkansas, reorganized the education branch into three districts, with an assistant superintendent for each, for the purpose of cooperating with State officials in the transfer of the Bureau schools to the State's system. William M. Colby, David C. Casey, and James T. Watson were appointed to these new positions. General Smith held the position of chief superintendent of education. The Assistant Commissioner's office was abolished in April 1869, and Commissioner Howard reappointed Colby as the superintendent of education on May 1, 1869. Colby held that position until July 1870. By that time the Bureau had turned over most of the schools to the State Board of Education.

When Commissioner Sprague established his headquarters in St. Louis, several benevolent societies had already begun work on the establishment of schools for freedmen in Missouri. In 1864, the American Missionary Society established a freedmen school at Warrensburg, and the Western Freedmen Aid Society (WFAC) assisted military officials in the education of freedmen at Benton Barracks. By the time disbursing officer Frederick A. Seely opened his office in Missouri in 1867, there were more than 1,000 students attending some 30 schools in St. Louis alone. Seely, however, did provide support and assistance to local groups in the construction of additional schools in St. Louis, Warrensburg, Kansas City, Westport, and Carondolet.4

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was of paramount concern to the Freedmen's Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states enacted a series of laws commonly known as "Black Codes," which restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes and in some instances were unable to get their cases heard in state courts. In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard on May 30, 1865, Assistant Commissioners were directed to "adjudicate, either themselves or through officers of their appointment, all difficulties arising between Negroes themselves, or between Negroes and whites or Indians." In the Arkansas district, freedmen were tried in both provost courts and freedmen courts. Freedmen courts were used when Bureau officials determined that freedmen were being treated unjustly. A freedmen court consisted of a Bureau official and two citizens of a given county. The three–member court had jurisdiction over all matters involving labor disputes and other cases relating to freedmen and refugees that did not exceed $300, 30 days in prison, or a fine of $100. In October 1865, Sprague appointed civilian superintendents to administer justice, especially in instances where freedmen were denied the right to testify in courts. Superintendents were told to follow state court procedures and laws as long as the laws made "no distinctions on account of color." By summer 1866, despite continued allegations of mistreatment of freedmen, all cases except those relating to labor contracts were being handled by state courts or military authorities. In 1867, when reconstruction acts placed Arkansas under the fourth military district, both state and Bureau courts were put under military supervision.5

The Freedmen's Bureau in the Arkansas district sought, with limited success, to secure land for refugees and freedmen. It intended to establish freedmen on lands under its control that had been abandoned or confiscated. However, its efforts were nullified by President Andrew Johnson's Amnesty Proclamation of May 29, 1865, which provided pardons and the restoration of lands to Confederates who took an oath of allegiance to the Federal Government. To minimize the impact of Johnson's Proclamation, the Bureau required that refugees and freedmen occupying land under cultivation be allowed to remain on the land until crops were harvested or just compensation was rendered. It also required that existing lease agreements be honored until they expired and that refugees and freedmen would not be moved from the land until arrangements could be made for them elsewhere. There was no complete effort to restore lands to their original owners in Arkansas until the Freedmen's Bureau was withdrawn from the State.6

The Southern Homestead Act (14 Stat. 66), approved by Congress on June 21, 1866, made available for public settlement 46 million acres of public lands in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Nine million acres of this Federal land was located in Arkansas. Because the Act specifically prohibited discrimination against applicants due to race, it offered an opportunity for Arkansas freedmen and others to become landowners. Generally, the Freedmen's Bureau, through "Locating Agents," assisted interested freedmen in finding plots, and provided them with 1–month subsistence, free transportation to their prospective tracts of land, and seeds for the initial planting. Despite his concerns that a large percentage of the Arkansas land was worthless and that many freedmen who were under labor agreements for the year would not be able to take full advantage of the Southern Homestead Act, Assistant Commissioner Sprague hired Dr. W. W. Granger as locating agent for Arkansas freedmen. By early summer 1867, Granger had located 1.5 million acres of land available for entry (application) and recommended more than 400,000 acres for settlement. By fall 1867, Granger reported that of the 243 tracts he had surveyed, freedmen had entered 116 of the 143 that were suitable for settlement. A total of 26,395 entries were made in Arkansas under the Southern Homestead Act during the 10 years of the Act's existence. Less than 11,000, however, were carried to completion. Of the approximately 250 freedmen who eventually made land entries, only 25 percent completed them. Whites made most of the entries in Arkansas, and many of the freedmen who sought land there came from Georgia.7

ENDNOTES

1 Thomas S. Staples, Reconstruction in Arkansas, 1862–1874 (New York: 1923), pp. 205 – 207.

2 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 77 and 255.

3 Thomas S. Staples, Reconstruction in Arkansas, pp. 207 – 210.

4 Richard O. Curry, ed. Radicalism, Racism, and Party Realignment: The Border States during Reconstruction (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1969), pp. 258 – 259.

5 House Ex. Doc. No. 11, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1255, p. 45; Staples, Reconstruction in Arkansas, 1862–1874, pp. 211 – 215.

6 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 70 – 71.

7 Paul A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller, eds., The Freedmen's Bureau and Reconstruction: Reconsiderations (New York: Fordham University Press, 1999), pp. 73–77; see also Claude F. Oubre, Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Land Ownership (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1978), p. 109.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Arkansas:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices in Arkansas. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment–related records.

ARKADELPHIA (Clark County)

July–Dec. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent William A. Stuart

Dec. 1865–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent William A. Britton

Oct. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Anthony E. Babricht

AUGUSTA (Woodruff County)

Nov. 1865–Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent John Thorp

Nov. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. Sebastian Geisreiter

BATESVILLE (Independence County)

Dec. 1865–ca. June 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Reuben Harplam

July 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. William Brian

Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. Walter O. Lattimore

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. Albert H. Andrews

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. John Harold

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. William J. Lyster

CAMDEN (Ouchita County)

July 1865–June 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Lewis H. Carhart

June–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Nathan Cole

Oct. 1866–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Joseph L. Thorp

DEVALL'S BLUFF (Prairie County)

June 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent Willis Davis

July 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent William McCullough

July–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Hiram Willis

Dec. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent William McCullough

FORT SMITH (Sebastian County)

Oct. 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Francis Springer

Mar.–May 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Thomas Abel

May–Aug. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Sebastian Geisreiter

Aug. 1866–May 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Charles Banzhaf

May–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Elihu G. Barker

Aug.–Oct. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Charles Banzhaf

Nov. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Pinkney Lugenbeel

HAMBURG (Ashley County)

Mar.–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. Fred A. Tencate

July 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. Isaiah S. Taylor

Nov. 1867–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent George Towle

July–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Sebastian Geisreiter

HAMPTON (Calhoun County)

Oct. 1865–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent John Scroggins

HELENA (Phillips County)

1864–65 -- Superintendent and Agent H. Sweeney (Superintendent of Freedmen)

1867 -- Superintendent and Agent H. Sweeney (Superintendent)

1869–71 -- Superintendent and Agent James T. Watson (Claims Agent)

JACKSONPORT (Upper White River District)

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- General Superintendent J. M. Bowler

Mar. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- General Superintendent J. T. Watson

JACKSONPORT (Jackson County)

May–Aug. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent Jonas Lindale (also Provost Marshal for the Department of Arkansas)

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent William Tisdale (also Provost Marshal for the Department of Arkansas)

Oct.–Dec. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent J. M. Bowler

Dec. 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Robert Anderson

Mar. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent A. S. Dyer

Feb. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent William Brian

LAKE VILLAGE AND LUNA LANDING (Chicot County)

July–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Thomas Abel

Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Geisreiter

Dec. 1866–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Hersey

July–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent G. Benson

Dec. 1867–Nov. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent A. G. Cunningham

LEWISBURG (Conway County)

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent John Vetter

June 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent William Morgan

LEWISVILLE (Lafayette County)

Oct. 1866–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Nathan Cole

July 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent V. V. Smith

LITTLE ROCK (Pulaski County)

Feb.–Sept. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent J. Raines (Superintendent of Freedmen until July 1865)

Nov. 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent W. Tisdale

July 1866–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent F. Gross

Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent James T. Watson

Sept. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent A. S. Dyer

LITTLE ROCK

Jan.–Mar. 1864 -- Superintendent of Freedmen W. G. Sargent (Superintendent at Helena)

Apr. 1864–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent of Freedmen W. G. Sargent

MADISON (St. Francis County)

Apr.–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent A. S. Dyer

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Williams

MARION (Crittenden County)

Sept. 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Agent James R. Walker

Oct. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Agent E. G. Barker

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Main

MONTICELLO

July 1865–ca. Jan. 1866 -- General Superintendent for the South Eastern District of Arkansas E. G. Barker (Agent)

Jan. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- General Superintendent for the South Eastern District of Arkansas E. G. Barker (General Superintendent)

MONTICELLO (Drew County)

Jan.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent G. Duvall

OSCEOLA (Mississippi County)

Apr. 1866–Oct. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Eli Mix

PARACLIFTA (Sevier County)

Dec. 1865–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent A. W. Ballard

Dec. 1866–Oct. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Hiram Willis

PINE BLUFF (Arkansas River District)

July 1866–Jan. 1867 -- General Superintendent William J. Dawes

Jan.–Feb. 1867 -- General Superintendent William D. Hale

Feb. 1867 -- General Superintendent William J. Dawes

PINE BLUFF (Jefferson County)

Dec. 1864–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent S. W. Mallory (Superintendent of Freedmen until July 1865)

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent D. H. Williams

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent A. Coats

Mar.–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent E. Wallace

Sept. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Geisreiter

Mar.–May 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent W. J. Dawes (Agent)

May1867–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Geisreiter (Agent)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent R. W. Barnard

PRINCETON (Dallas County)

1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Stubblefield

1866–68 -- Superintendent and Agent George W. Mallett

SOUTH BEND (Arkansas County)

May 1866–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent William D. Hale

June–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Hersey

Sept. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent A. Coats

Mar.–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent DeWolf

UNION (Fulton County)

Oct. 1866–Sept. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Simpson Mason

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent John Martin

WASHINGTON (South West District of Arkansas)

Nov. 1865–Oct. 1866 -- General Superintendent E. W. Gantt

Oct. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- General Superintendent F. Thibant

WASHINGTON (Hemstead)

July–Dec. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent John R. Montgomery

Dec. 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent James Williams

July 1866–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent F. Thibant

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent C. C. Gilbert
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1901
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Arkansas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1901

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Missouri, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
24 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 24 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1908. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Office of the Disbursing Officer for Missouri, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. The records of the disbursing officer are the only field records for Missouri, but they reflect his overall responsibility for freedmen affairs in the state. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters sent and received, registers of marriages, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and bounty payments.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by the Freedmen's Bureau by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, registers of bounty claimants, and a marriage register. The unbound documents consist of registered letters, registered letters received by endorsement, and unregistered letters received.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1908
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Missouri, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1908

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869

Extent:
36 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1869
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 36 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1027. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–69. The records consist of 43 bound volumes and 10.8 meters of unbound documents. The bound volumes include letters and endorsements sent, orders and circulars issued and received, registers of letters received, and other records. The unbound documents consist primarily of letters and reports sent and received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1027.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Freedmen's Bureau, as the Bureau was commonly known, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507), and extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, appointed Commissioner by the President in May 1865, served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). Although the Bureau was a part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. Bureau officials cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to the destitute and in maintaining freedmen's schools; supervised labor contracts between black employees and white employers; helped black soldiers and sailors collect bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and property.

The act of March 3, 1865, also authorized the appointment of assistant commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the States. In Louisiana, operations began in Tune 1865 when Assistant Commissioner Thomas W. Conway established his headquarters in New Orleans. The names and terms of the other Assistant Commissioners or Acting Assistant Commissioners in Louisiana are as follows: Gen. James S. Fullerton, October 4 – 18, 1865; Gen. Absalom Baird, October 19, 1865–September 7, 1866; Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, October 5–November 27, 1866; Gen. Joseph A. Mower, November 28, 1866–December 4, 1867; Lt. Col. William H. Wood, December 5, 1867–January 2, 1868; Gen. R. C. Buchanan, January 3-August 24, 1868; and Gen. Edward Hatch, August 25, 1868-January 1, 1869. In accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Bureau operations within the States were terminated on January 1, 1869, except for educational functions and the collection of claims.

The organization of the Bureau's staff in Louisiana was similar to that of the Bureau's headquarters in Washington, D. C. The Assistant Commissioner's staff consisted at various times of a Superintendent of Education, an Assistant Adjutant General, an Acting Assistant Adjutant General, an Inspector General, an Assistant Inspector General, a Surgeon-in-Chief, a Provost Marshal General of Freedmen, and a Chief Quartermaster. Subordinate to these officers were the subassistant commissioners who commanded the subdistricts. Under supervision of the subassistant commissioners were civilian and military superintendents, assistant subassistant commissioners, and agents.

Originally, Louisiana was divided, for administrative purposes, into several districts with an agent or superintendent in charge of each. On April 19, 1867, the State was reorganized into seven subdistricts with a subassistant commissioner in charge of each. Subdistrict headquarters were established at Baton Rouge, Franklin, Monroe, Natchitoches, New Orleans, Shreveport, and Vidalia.

The correspondence received and sent by the Office of the Assistant Commissioner is generally addressed to or signed by the Assistant Commissioner, Assistant Adjutant General, or the Acting Assistant Adjutant General. Occasionally, the Inspector General, the Assistant Inspector General, or the Superintendent of Education signed outgoing correspondence. The major correspondents in the series were General Howard; staff officers, subassistant commissioners, and other subordinate officers of the Bureau in Louisiana; Army officers attached to military commands in Louisiana and neighboring States; Louisiana political officials; white citizens and freedmen in Louisiana; and officials of the Bureau in other States.

The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In the table of contents, the AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes because these numbers appear on the spines of the volumes. The volume numbers without parentheses were assigned by the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) staff. Numbered blank pages have not been filmed.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1027
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1027

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