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Tennessee, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Tennessee, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Tennessee, United States
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US Flag 1863-1865 (35 stars)
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Record Description
Record Type Freedmen and Refugee records
Record Group RG 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
Collection years 1865-1872
Microfilm Publication M1911. Records of the Field Offices for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872. 89 rolls.
  T142. Selected Records of the Tennessee Field Office of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872.. 73 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 434
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


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

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War to supervise relief efforts including education, health care, food and clothing, refugee camps, legalization of marriages, employment, labor contracts, and securing back pay, bounty payments and pensions. These records include letters and endorsements sent and received, account books, applications for rations, applications for relief, court records, labor contracts, registers of bounty claimants, registers of complaints, registers of contracts, registers of disbursements, registers of freedmen issued rations, registers of patients, reports, rosters of officers and employees, special and general orders and circulars received, special orders and circulars issued, records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads. This collection corresponds with NARA microfilm publication M1911, Records of the Field Offices for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872.

Learn more » This collection consists of scanned images of records from National Archives microfilm publication M1911, and T142. The images are generally arranged in the order the records were microfilmed with the records of the state level staff officers; Claims Agent, Disbursing Officer, Surgeon, first then the local field office records are arranged alphabetically by location and by NARA roll number.

Record Types

Collection Inventory Table

  • The inventory will include for each individual collection the National Archives Identifier Number (NAID) and preliminary inventory entry number.

Related Article

  • Sharon Batiste Gillins.A Window into the lives of black and white ancestors: Freedmen's Bureau field office records. NGS Magazine 39 #1 (January-March 2013): 34-38.


To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Tennessee, Freedmen's Bureau Records, 1865-1872.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War to supervise relief efforts including education, health care, food and clothing, refugee camps, legalization of marriages, employment, labor contracts, and securing back pay, bounty payments and pensions. These records include letters and endorsements sent and received, account books, applications for rations, applications for relief, court records, labor contracts, registers of bounty claimants, registers of complaints, registers of contracts, registers of disbursements, registers of freedmen issued rations, registers of patients, reports, rosters of officers and employees, special and general orders and circulars received, special orders and circulars issued, records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

For details about the contents of these records, their history, and help using them, see the wiki article: United States Freedmen’s Bureau Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

Also available is a field office personnel coverage table which shows where the field offices in Tennessee were located, the names of the employees, what office they held, and the dates they served. See: Freedmen’s Bureau Tennessee Field Office Personnel Coverage Table

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

NARA Select Images from Freedmen's Bureau records

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

The Freedmen’s Bureau records are a major source of genealogical information about post Civil War African Americans. The records are also a good source to quickly identify a family group and residence. Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

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

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the Freedmen's Bureau Office or Subordinate Field Office Location
  2. Select the NARA Roll Number-Contents to view the images.



How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

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

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.

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

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

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

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

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Tennessee.

Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]

Related Book[edit | edit source]

General Information About Freedmen's Bureau Records[edit | edit source]

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established in the War Department in March of 1865. It was commonly called the Freedman’s Bureau and was responsible for the management and supervision of matters relating to refuges, freedmen, and abandoned lands. The Bureau assisted disenfranchised Americans, primarily African Americans, with temporal, legal and financial matters, with the intent of helping people to become self-sufficient. Matters handled included the distributing of food and clothing; operating temporary medical facilities; acquiring back pay, bounty payments, and pensions; facilitating the creation of schools, including the founding of Howard University; reuniting family members; handling marriages; and providing banking services. Banking services were provided by the establishment of the Freedman’s Saving and Trust Company, or Freedman’s Bank.

The Bureau functioned as an agency of the War Department from approximately June 1865 until December 1868. In 1872, the functions of the Bureau were transferred to the Freedmen’s Branch of the Adjutant General’s Office.

The Bureau assisted over one million African Americans, including many of the nearly four million emancipated slaves, which was over 25% of the population of former slaves in America.

The records identify those who sought help from the Bureau at the end of the Civil War. Most supplicants were freed slaves, some of which were military veterans. In addition, a few veterans who were not African Americans also sought help from the Bureau. Freedmen’s Bureau records are usually reliable, because the records were supplied through first-person correspondence or the recording of a marriage.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.