The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedman’s Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865. 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.
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. (Taken from: Publication Details of M1902: Records of the Field Offices for the District of Columbia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1870. Washington, D.C.: United States Congress and National Archives and Records Administration, 2002.
This database contains records relating to the Bureau from the following field offices:
- New Orleans, Lousiana
- North Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
The database also contains records relating to the Bureau for the following states from the Adjutant General's office in Washington, D.C.:
- South Carolina
Types of records found in this database include:
- Labor Contracts
- Applications for Rations
- Monthly Reports of Abandoned Land
- Monthly Reports of Clothing and Medicine Issued
- Statistical School Reports
- Court Trial Records
- Hospital Records
- Lists of Workers
- Complaints Registered
- Census Returns
*Most of the letters were being sent to or from Washington, D.C. Therefore, letters from individuals outside of the D.C. field office are included with this locality.
Information available in this database includes:
- Record type
- Field office location
Additional information is likely available on the original record. Be sure to view the corresponding images that pertain to the record. Keep in mind that the original record may be comprised of several pages or images.