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Around Town: To Achieve These Rights

Creator:
WETA-TV (Television station : Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Collection Creator:
Smithsonian Institution. Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
1 video recording (VHS)
Culture:
African American  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Video recordings
Place:
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
United States
Date:
1992
Scope and Contents:
Around Town, which presented video segments of events happening around Washington, D.C. on public television station WETA, profiled the Anacostia Museum's exhibition 'To Achieve These Rights: The Struggle for Equality and Self-Determination in the District of Columbia, 1791-1978.' Other topics included in this episode: new feature film 'Daughters of the Dust,' new adaption of 'Frankenstein' by the Washington Shakespeare Company, and an international art exhibition and auction at the 'Very Special Arts' gallery. After brief clips or description of each topic, there was a short roundtable discussion.
News program with roundtable discussion. Related to exhibition 'To Achieve These Rights: The Struggle for Equality and Self-Determination in the District of Columbia, 1791-1978.' Dated 19920227.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Slave trade  Search this
Antislavery movements  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Slavery -- Law and legislation  Search this
Civil rights  Search this
Home rule  Search this
Museum exhibits  Search this
Genre/Form:
Video recordings
Citation:
Around Town: To Achieve These Rights, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.03-033, Item ACMA AV002641
See more items in:
To achieve these rights: the struggle for equality and self-determination in the District of Columbia, 1791–1978 exhibition records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-03-033-ref509

Rebellious passage the Creole revolt and America's coastal slave trade / Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie

Author:
Kerr-Ritchie, Jeffrey R http://id.loc.gov/vocabulary/relators/aut http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n98035821 http://viaf.org/viaf/10014580  Search this
Subject:
Creole (Brig) http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n85221121  Search this
Physical description:
xxix, 345 pages 23 cm
Type:
Books
History
Place:
United States
Bahamas
Atlantic Coast (U.S.)
Date:
2019
19th century
Topic:
Slave insurrections--History  Search this
Mutiny--History  Search this
Slaves--Emancipation--History  Search this
Slave trade--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1114588

An account of the emancipation of the slaves of Unity Valley Pen, in Jamaica / by David Barclay

Author:
Barclay, David 1729-1809  Search this
Physical description:
20 pages ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Jamaica
Date:
1801
Topic:
Slaves--Emancipation  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Call number:
E441 .H92 1804
E441.H92 1804
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_402073

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
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2016.166.41.11
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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
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2016.166.41.3
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Records of the Field Offices for the State of Mississippi, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
65 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 65 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1907. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Mississippi headquarters for the Assistant Commissioner and his staff officers and the subordinate field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. The files contain some pre–Bureau record series, dated 1863–1864, that were created by military commanders and U. S. Treasury agents who dealt with refugees and freedmen during the Civil War. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters sent and received, monthly reports, registers of complaints, 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, 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.

A few series were created in 1863–1864, prior to formation of the Bureau, by Union military commanders and U. S. Treasury agents, and included in the Bureau records. Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers in that period. In Series 2.2, for example, the Registers of Letters Received also contain a register of criminal cases maintained by the judge advocate of the district of Vicksburg. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the finding aid to make full use of these records.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1907.]

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, letters were 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 MISSISSIPPI

ORGANIZATION

The first Assistant Commissioner of Mississippi was Col. Samuel Thomas, who established his headquarters at Vicksburg in June 1865. Before his appointment to the Freedmen's Bureau, Colonel Thomas served in Mississippi within Chaplain John Eaton's Freedmen's Department of the Department of Tennessee. The functions and activities of the Freedmen's Department in Mississippi were similar to those of the later Bureau. Although the size and organization of the Mississippi office varied from time to time, the Assistant Commissioner's staff usually included an acting adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, and a surgeon in chief, a superintendent of education, a disbursing officer, and a chief commissary of subsistence.

At the start of operations in Mississippi, officers subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner were organized in a hierarchical manner. The state of Mississippi and the parishes of Madison, Carroll, Concordia, and Tenas in northeastern Louisiana were divided into the Western, Southern, and Northern Districts, with an acting assistant commissioner in charge of each district. Subassistant commissioners in charge of subdistricts, which usually encompassed several counties, reported directly to the acting assistant commissioners, who, in turn, reported to the Assistant Commissioner. In January 1866, the Louisiana parishes were placed within the jurisdiction of the Assistant Commissioner for Louisiana. In March 1866, the three districts were discontinued; thereafter, the subassistant commissioners or the civilian agents in charge of subdistricts reported directly to the Assistant Commissioner.

Colonel Thomas was succeeded by three other officers who acted as both Assistant Commissioners and military commanders in Mississippi. In April 1866, Gen. Thomas J. Wood was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi; he was succeeded in January 1867 by Gen. Alvan C. Gillem. In March 1869, Gen. Adelbert Ames was appointed Assistant Commissioner; he established his headquarters at Jackson and supervised the closing of the office of the Assistant Commissioner. Gen. Ames's appointment was revoked on April 30, 1869. The major subordinate field offices for the Bureau at Mississippi included those with headquarters at Jackson, Lauderdale, Natchez, and Vicksburg. For a list of known Mississippi subordinate field office personnel and their dates of service, see the Appendix.

ACTIVITIES

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi 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, provided assistance in legalizing freedmen marriages, and assisted, to a limited extent, in locating land for freedmen.

The Freedmen's Bureau sought to prevent widespread starvation and destitution in Mississippi by issuing more than 180,000 rations to both whites and blacks in 1865, and 170,000 rations to blacks and white refugees in 1866. Also in 1866, Commissioner Howard ordered an end to rations except for freedmen in Bureau hospitals and orphanages. By December 1868, the Bureau's relief efforts in Mississippi ceased.1

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi. In General Orders Number 5 (July 29, 1865), Assistant Commissioner Thomas outlined the rules governing the free labor system in the state. He specified that all contracts between freedmen and planters must be in writing and approved by the Bureau. Contracts were not to exceed one year, and any contracts involving wages must allow for food, clothing, and medical attention. The Bureau settled disputes. Between 1865 and 1866, numerous freedmen complained of inadequate compensation for their labor. Freedmen who worked for "Shares" (for a portion of the crop) found themselves in debt to planters at the end of the season, and thus forced to contract for the next year to pay their obligations. Blacks who worked for wages were frequently cheated of their pay and in some instances, like those who worked for shares, were "Driven Off" once the crops were harvested. Assistant Commissioner T. J. Wood, who replaced Thomas in 1867, instituted a plan by which freedmen contracted with planters for a portion of the crop. Freedmen were to receive one–third of the crop, and planters were to supply land, stock, tools and food. Clothing, medicines, and the cost of rations provided to children too young to work would be taken from the freedmen's share of the crop at the end of the year. By 1868, a modified version of the "Share System" became the most prevalent kind of labor agreement in Mississippi. Freedmen who worked land provided by the planters paid a stipulated rent or a certain amount of cotton or corn for the use of the land. By and large, this labor arrangement allowed freedmen to rely less on credit from planters and more on their own resources for supplies.2

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was also of great concern to the Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states, including Mississippi, enacted a series of laws commonly known as "Black Codes," which restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Under Mississippi law, for example, blacks could not rent or lease land outside cities and towns, thus restricting their ability to become independent farmers. Freedmen who were not lawfully employed by the second Monday of each January were considered vagrants, and as such, were subject to fines and imprisonment. Freedmen were prohibited from owning firearms without a license, and black children who were deemed orphans could be bound out as apprentices without their parents' permission. Assistant Commissioner Thomas issued General Orders Number 8 (September 20, 1865), which offered Mississippi judicial officials the opportunity to try freedmen cases in local courts (without interference from the Bureau) if they would afford blacks the same "Rights and Privileges" as whites. In October 1865, after Mississippi officials agreed to accept his offer, Thomas ordered that all cases relating to freedmen were to be handled by Mississippi judges and magistrates. However, it was not until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi was able to achieve some degree of equal justice for freedmen.3

From July 1865 to July 1866, the educational activity of the Bureau in Mississippi was under the direction of Dr. Joseph Warren. Following his resignation, the duties of the superintendent of education were performed by Assistant Commissioners for eight months, until H. R. Pease assumed the duties of the office on May 18, 1867. Pease found that some 63 teachers were employed in the major towns and villages by various educational and benevolent associations, and that another 31 teachers, who received aid from the Bureau, were employed by freedmen. Many of the schools, however, lacked adequate buildings, and in schools in areas where the black population was small, freedmen were unable to support teachers' salaries. Teachers and trustees had difficulty collecting tuition from pupils, and, with no teaching standards, some teachers were unfit to teach. The Bureau cooperated with educational and benevolent societies, and encouraged freedmen to contribute to the support of their schools by paying a monthly tuition. By December 1868, the number of pupils attending freedmen schools increased from over 2,000 in October 1867 to more than 6,000, and the number of freedmen schools increased from 47 to 115. Teachers commissioned by educational societies increased from 13 to 23; and teachers supported by freedmen and the Bureau went from 34 to 101. Assistant Commissioner Gillem reported that during the year ending October 1868, more whites were beginning to take an active role in assisting blacks in building schools and supporting teachers.4

The Bureau in Mississippi was very active in documenting and solemnizing marriages of freedmen. Continuing a practice started by military officials and civilians during the Civil War, Assistant Commissioner Samuel Thomas issued Circular Number 1 (July 3, 1865) authorizing his officers to keep a record of marriages of persons of color and gave instruction on how to maintain marriage registers. Returns of marriage certificates forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner by Assistant Commissioner Thomas include such information as the color of persons marrying, complexion of parents, and the number of years the couple had been living together as man and wife. The certificates also include data about the number of years the couple lived with another person, how they were separated, and the number of children by a previous connection. Marriage records in the records of the Mississippi Office of the Assistant Commissioner provide similar information. The registers for Davis Bend, Vicksburg, and Natchez, Mississippi, document the registration of more than 4,600 freedmen from Mississippi and northern Louisiana. Over half of the soldiers registering marriages for Natchez were members of the 6th Mississippi Heavy Artillery of the U. S. Colored Troops. Nearly all of the soldiers registering marriages for Davis Bend served with the 64th Colored Infantry. The Mississippi subdistrict field office also registered freedmen marriages or issued licenses and certificates in the subdistricts of Brookhaven, Columbus, Davis Bend, Goodman, Grenada, Jackson, and Pass Christian.5

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. Nearly 5 million acres of this Federal land was located in Mississippi. Because the act specifically prohibited discrimination against applicants due to race, it offered an opportunity for Mississippi freedmen and others to become landowners. Generally, the Freedmen's Bureau assisted interested freedmen through "Locating Agents" in finding plots, and provided them with one–month subsistence, free transportation to their prospective tracts of land, and seeds for the initial planting. In Mississippi, as in other public land states in the South, most freedmen were under labor agreements at the time of the act and were unable to take advantage of land opportunities. Because Mississippi had no land office, Bureau officials were unable to secure maps and other records relating to the quality and location of public lands in the state. By 1868, feeling that much of the public land for Mississippi was of poor quality and "Unfit for Agricultural Purposes," Bvt. Brig. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, who replaced Thomas Wood in early 1867 as Mississippi Assistant Commissioner, made no effort to survey public lands. A land office was eventually opened in August 1868. By then, however, the Freedmen's Bureau, for all practical purposes, had been discontinued.6

ENDNOTES

1 William C. Harris, Presidential Reconstruction in Mississippi (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967), p. 84; Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Mississippi, October 10, 1867, p. 20, and December 12, 1868, pp. 11 – 12, Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Record Group 105, NARA.

2 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 167 – 168; Annual Reports, Mississippi, October 10, 1867, pp. 4 – 11, and December 12, 1868, pp. 3 – 4.

3 Donald G. Nieman, "The Freedmen's Bureau and the Mississippi Black Code," The Journal of Mississippi History XL, No. 2 (May 1978): pp. 92 – 99; House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 101 – 102.

4 Annual Reports, Mississippi, October 10, 1867, pp. 27 – 34; see also, the report for December 12, 1868, [pp. 12 – 17].

5 For a discussion of Mississippi marriage registers, see Herbert G. Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1790–1925 (New York: Vintage Books, 1976), pp. 18 – 24. The Mississippi marriage registers are reproduced in National Archives Microfilm Publication M826, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Mississippi, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869, Roll 42. Compiled service records for the 6th Mississippi Heavy Artillery, USCT, have been reproduced on microfilm publication M1818, Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: Artillery Organizations, Rolls 109 – 133. For returns of marriage certificates forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner, see microfilm publication M1875, Marriage Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Washington Headquarters of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1861–1869, Rolls 2 and 3.

6 Warren Hoffinagle, "The Southern Homestead Act: Its Origins and Operation," The Historian; A Journal of History, XXXII, No. 4 (1970): 618 – 620.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Mississippi:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices in Mississippi. 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.

ABERDEEN

Sept.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Stuart Eldridge

Dec. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William K. White (Agent at Okolona)

BROOKHAVEN

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Z. B. Chatfield

Apr.–June 1866 -- Subcommissioner Robert P. Gardner

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. Eldridge

Apr.–July 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. Eldridge

July–Nov. 1867 -- Subcommissioner E. C. Gilbrath

Dec. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Agent A. K. Long

Mar.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. E. Platt

Oct.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Haller

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore

COLUMBUS

Mar. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Subcommissioner George S. Smith

Mar.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George S. Smith

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. G. Sprague

June–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George S. Smith

Aug.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William K. White

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Bartholomew

Jan.–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Kelly

Mar.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Bartholomew

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Kelly

CORINTH

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George S. Smith

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Loyd Wheaton

EAST PASCAGOULA

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner R. D. Mitchell

July 1866–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss

Mar.–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Allen P. Huggins (Agent at McKutt)

Apr.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Allen P. Huggins (Agent at Greenwood)

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. E. Platt (Subassistant Commissioner at Greenwood)

FRIARS POINT

May–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge

Nov. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

GOODMAN

July–Aug. 1867 -- Agent H. W. Barry

Sept.–Nov. 1867 -- Agent Charles A. Shields

GREENVILLE

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Subcommissioner William L. Ryan

Sept.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William L. Tidball

Dec.–1867–May 1868 and May–July 1868 -- Agent Thad K. Preuss

July–Aug. 1868 -- Agent Andrew Thomas

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Samuel Goozee

GRENADA

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Subcommissioner S. Marvin

Apr.–Oct. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Silas May

Oct. 1866–July 1867 -- Assistant Subcommissioner James N. Shipley

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subcommissioner D. M. White

Oct. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William Shields

Feb.–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles Walden

Mar.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William Wedemeyker

HOLLY SPRINGS

Sept.–Dec. 1867 -- Subcommissioner John Power

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Agent H. H. Service

Jan.–Oct. 1868 -- Subcommissioner John Power

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Clerk H. A. Cooper

JACKSON — Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Northern District of Mississippi

July 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Northern District of Mississippi R. S. Donaldson

JACKSON

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Thomas Smith

Mar.–Nov. 1866 -- Subcommissioner H. Gardner

Dec. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subcommissioner H. R. Williams

Feb.–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Robert P. Gardner

Aug.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel S. Sumner

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Allen P. Heuggins

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Joseph B. Holt

LAKE STATION

Sept.–Oct. 1867 -- Agent Charles Walden

Nov. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss (also at Forest)

LAUDERDALE

Apr.–July 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Henry E. Rainals

July 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

Mar. 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Joseph W. Sunderland

Aug. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore

Feb.–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore (at Meridian)

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore (at DeKalb)

Feb.–Apr. 1868 -- Agent John D. Moore

Apr.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent O. C. French

LEXINGTON

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Agent H. W. Barry

Dec. 1867 -- Agent C. A. Shields

LOUISVILLE

Sept. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent John Williams

Feb.–July 1868 -- Agent John Williams (at Durant)

July–Sept. 1868 -- Agent H. H. Service (at Durant)

MACON

Oct.–Dec. 1865 -- Subcommissioner Louis H. Gest

July–Sept. 1867 -- Agent William H. Ross

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Agent George S. Smith

MAGNOLIA

Aug.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner York A. Woodward

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner (also at Woodville)

MERIDIAN

Aug. 1865 -- Subcommissioner C. W. Clark

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Subcommissioner E. L. Buckwalter

Jan.–July 1866 -- Subcommissioner John J. Knox

June–Aug. 1866 -- Subcommissioner James W. Sunderland

July–Dec. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Henry E. Rainals

Jan.–Feb. 1867 -- Subcommissioner James W. Sunderland

July–Sept. 1867 -- Subcommissioner Thomas H. Norton

Sept. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent Andrew Thomas

Feb.–July 1868 -- Agent (also Agent at Hickory)

NATCHEZ, Southern District of Mississippi

Mar.–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen George D. Reynolds

July 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner George D. Reynolds

NATCHEZ

Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner A. Kemper

July 1866–June 1867 -- Subcommissioner E. E. Platt

July 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Biddle

Apr.–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Haller

Sept. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles A. Wikoff

OKOLONA

Aug.–Sept. 1865 -- Subcommissioner J. M. Buel

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner W. F. DuBois

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. H. Eldridge (See Tupelo)

Dec. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subcommissioner William K. White (See Aberdeen)

OXFORD

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Edward B. Rossiter

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Thad. K. Preuss

PASS CHRISTIAN

Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner A. L. Hemingway

Apr.–June 1866 -- Subcommissioner John D. Moore

June 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subcommissioner Robert P. Gardner

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Subcommissioner John D. Moore

Mar.–July 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss

July–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles Hyatt

Nov. 1867 -- Agent M. Lathrup (Agent)

PHILADELPHIA

Sept. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Robert P. Gardner

PORT GIBSON

May–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen at Rodney D. F. Hart

July–Aug. 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen at Claiborne County D. F. Hart

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Subcommissioner H. O. Stavis

Nov. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner James M. Babcock

Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner J. T. Hanna

June–Sept. 1867 -- Agent A. S. Alden

Dec. 1867–May 1868 -- Agent W. H. Eldridge (at Port Gibson) (See Tupelo)

Dec. 1868 -- Agent A. K. Long

SARDIS

Dec. 1867 -- Agent D. S. Harriman (also at Panola)

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Agent M. Lathrop (at Panola)

Aug. 1868 -- Agent M. Lathrop (at Sardis)

Sept. 1868 -- Clerk H. A. Cooper

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Clerk James H. Pierce

SKIPWITHS LANDING

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Subcommissioner S. G. Swain

Nov. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner O. B. Foster

STARKVILLE

Sept. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent Charles A. Sullivan

Mar.–July 1868 -- Agent C. L. Currier Coss

TUPELO

July–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge (at Okolona)

Dec. 1867–May 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge (at Port Gibson)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent H. A. Kelly

VICKSBURG, Western District of Mississippi

June 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen George D. Reynolds

June 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Commissioner J. H. Weber

VICKSBURG

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner S. G. Swain

May 1866 -- Subcommissioner J. K. Byers Fielding

July–Oct. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Neale George

Jan.–Mar. 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. Corliss

Apr.–July 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Chapman

July 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. E. Platt

Mar.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Chapman

VICKSBURG

Sept.–Oct. 1864 -- Special Agent of the Treasury Department T. C. Callicot

Oct. 1864–July 1865 -- Special Agent of the Treasury Department C. A. Montross

WINCHESTER

Aug.–Dec. 1865 -- Subcommissioner William R. Gallian

May–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. Whitney

WOODVILLE

Jan.–Feb. 1866 -- Agent William R. Gallian

Aug.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subcommissioner George Haller

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subcommissioner (See Magnolia)

YAZOO CITY

June–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen Ozro B. Foster

July–Oct. 1865 -- Subcommissioner Ozro B. Foster

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Subcommissioner Charles W. Clarke

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Leonard P. Woodworth

Mar.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

May–Oct. 1867 -- Agent Alan P. Huggins

Oct. 1867–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge
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.M1907
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Mississippi, 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-m1907
Additional Online Media:

Sketches of southern life / by Frances E. Watkins Harper

Publisher:
Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins 1825-1911  Search this
Printer:
Ferguson Bros. & Co.  Search this
Physical description:
57, [1] pages ; 15 cm
Type:
Poetry
Poems
Place:
United States
Date:
1888
19th century
Topic:
Slaves--Emancipation  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1063645

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

Extent:
34 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1869
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 34 rolls of microfilm described in NARA publication M999. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–69. The records consist of 32 volumes and nearly 36 feet of unbound documents. The volumes include letters, endorsements sent, and telegrams sent; special orders and circular issued; registers of letters received; registers of abandoned property; and other records. The unbound records consist primarily of letters, telegrams, issuances, reports, and contracts received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M999.]

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 was appointed Commissioner by the President in May 1865, and he served in that position until June 30, 1872, when the activities of the Bureau were terminated by an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). Although the Bureau was part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. The Bureau cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to the destitute and in maintaining freedmen's schools. Bureau officials 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, authorized the appointment of assistant commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the States. In Tennessee, operations began on July 1, 1865, when Brig. Gen. Clinton B. Fisk took command as Assistant Commissioner at the Tennessee Bureau headquarters in Nashville. Brig. Gen. John R. Lewis succeeded Fisk in September 1866 and served until December 1866; Maj. Gen. William P. Carlin served from January 1867 until October 1868; and Lt. Col. James Thompson served from October 1868 until May 1869. At that time, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Bureau operations were terminated except for educational functions and the collection of claims. From July 1865 until June 1866, the Assistant Commissioner of Tennessee also had jurisdiction over the State of Kentucky and the northern part of Alabama.

The organization of the Bureau staff in Tennessee was similar to that of the Bureau headquarters in Washington, D. C. The Assistant Commissioner's staff included at various times the Superintendent of Education, Acting Assistant Adjutant General, Assistant Inspector General, Disbursing Officer, Surgeon in Chief, and Chief Quartermaster. Subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner and his staff were the subassistant commissioners who commanded the subdistricts.

Under direct supervision of the subassistant commissioners were civilian and military superintendents, assistant subassistant commissioners, and agents. General Fisk originally divided Tennessee into three subdistricts with headquarters at Pulaski and Knoxville. The subdistricts were further subdivided into agencies with boundaries that usually coincided with county lines. Among the more significant of these additional local offices were those headquartered at Columbia, Gallatin, Jackson, Kingston, Lebanon, Murfreesboro, Purdy, Springfield, and Trenton.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively both with his superior, General Howard, in Washington Bureau headquarters and with 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 Tennessee. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, State officials, and others. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the Acting Assistant Adjutant General handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, correspondence was usually addressed to or signed by him.

The volumes reproduced in this 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 for this publication the AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes because these numbers appear on the spines of the volumes. Volumes numbers without parentheses were assigned by NARAS staff. Some volumes, particularly indexes and registers, contain numbered blank pages. These 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.M999
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee, 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-m999
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Extent:
23 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1870
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 23 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M809. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–70. The records consist of 17 volumes and some unbound documents. The volumes include letters, reports, endorsements, and telegrams sent; orders issued; and registers of letters received. The unbound records include letters, reports, and issuances received. Except for some unfilmed duplicate copies this microfilm publication contains all the records created or received in the office of the Assistant Commissioner for Alabama.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M809.]

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 the acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 3). Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard was appointed Commissioner by the President in May 1865 and he served in that position until June 30, 1872 when the 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. The Bureau cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to the destitute and in maintaining freedmen's schools. Bureau officials supervised labor contracts between Negro employees and white employers; helped Negro soldiers and sailors to collect bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and other property.

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 States. In Alabama, operations began in July 1868 when Brig. Gen. Wager Swayne took command as Assistant Commissioner. Succeeding Swayne in January 1868 was Bvt. Brig. Julius Hayden who served until March 1868, Col. Oliver L. Shepherd who served from March to August 1868, and Col. T. H. Ruger who held the position of Assistant Commissioner for only a few days before the arrival of Bvt. Lt. Col. Edwin Beecher later in August 1868. In January 1869, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Bureau operations in Alabama, as in other States, were terminated except for the educational functions and the collection of claims. Colonel Beecher remained to serve as Superintendent of Education and held that position until the office was closed in July 1870. Some of the records for Beecher's tenure as Superintendent of Education are among the records of the Assistant Commissioner, but most of them are in the records of the Superintendent of Education.

The Assistant Commissioner's staff consisted at various times 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 more important subdistricts included those with headquarters at Demopolis, Eufaula, Greenville, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Opelika, Selma, Talladega, and Tuscaloosa. Under direct supervision of the subassistant commissioners were the civilian and military agents. Occasionally military officers would be retained by the Bureau in a civilian capacity after the termination of their military service. One such instance was the appointment of O. D. Kinsman in June 1867 as subassistant commissioner in charge of the Assistant Commissioner's office. Kinsman had served previously under General Swayne as Assistant Adjutant General.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively both with his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and with 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 Alabama. 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.

From June 1866 to January 1868 the Assistant Commissioner, General Swayne, served also as the military commander of Alabama. He therefore created and received records in both capacities. The dual function of the Assistant Commissioner also resulted in a succession of changes in the official headings used on correspondence and issuances. The title "Office of the Assistant Commissioner" was changed in June 1866 to "Headquarters, District of Alabama" and in August 1866 to "Headquarters, Subdistrict of Alabama." The heading "District of Alabama" was used again from March 1867 until superseded by "State of Alabama" in February 1868. The dual function of the office is also reflected in the recordkeeping practices for that period. Although the Assistant Commissioner generally maintained separate records for each of his capacities, in the case of letters and endorsements sent the records were frequently combined. Wherever separable the records created by the Assistant Commissioner in his military capacity are among Records of United States Army Continental Commands, 1821–1920, Record Group 393.

The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder in numerical sequence. Originally no numbers were assigned 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. In some volumes, and particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are a number of blank numbered pages that 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.M809
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m809
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Extent:
9 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1870
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the nine rolls of microfilm described in NARA publication M1000. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870. The records consist of eight volumes and some unbound documents. The volumes include letters and endorsements sent and registers of letters received. The unbound documents consist primarily of letters and reports received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1000.]

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 throughout the existence of the Bureau. In January 1869, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Bureau operations in the States were terminated except for educational functions and the collection of claims. These activities were terminated June 30, 1872, as required by an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366).

Although the Bureau was part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. The Bureau cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to destitute persons 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. In Tennessee, Bureau officials expended much time and effort seeking to protect freedmen from intimidation and physical violence at the hands of hostile whites.

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 States. In July 1865, Brig. Gen. Clinton B. Fisk took command as the Assistant Commissioner in Tennessee with headquarters at Nashville. From July 1865 until June 1866 the Assistant Commissioner of Tennessee also had jurisdiction over the State of Kentucky and the northern part of Alabama.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant commissioners were instructed to designate an officer in each State to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These official 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 was redesignated General Superintendent of Education.

The educational activity of the Bureau in Tennessee was under the direction of Brigadier General Fisk until the appointment of Lt. Col. Alexander M. York as Superintendent of Education on July 28, 1865. He was succeeded on August 23, 1865, by John Ogden, later President of Fisk University at Nashville, who served until May 1866. His successor, Rev. David Burt, served until April 1868, at which time Bvt. Lt. Col. James Thompson assumed the office. Thompson served concurrently as Assistant Commissioner of Tennessee until April 1869. In May 1869 Bvt. Lt. Col. Charles E. Compton, former Assistant Commissioner of North Carolina, became Superintendent of Education and served in that capacity until July 1870, when all Bureau educational activities in the State ceased. Information on educational matters during the tenures of York and Ogden may be found among the records of the Assistant Commissioner of Tennessee. There is very little documentation of educational efforts in the States prior to March 1866 in the records if the Superintendent of Education.

The Superintendent of Education served under the Assistant Commissioner as a staff officer. Subordinate to both the Assistant Commissioner and the Superintendent of Education were subassistant commissioners (with headquarters at Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Pulaski) who commanded the five subdistricts into which the State was divided. Subassistant commissioners supervised all Bureau activities, including education, in their respective areas and reported on educational matters to both the Superintendent of Education and the Assistant Commissioner, The subdistricts were further subdivided into agencies, usually coinciding with counties. Among the more significant of these local offices were those headquartered at Columbia, Gallatin, Jackson, Lebanon, Murfreesboro, Springfield, and Trenton.

The schools maintained by the Bureau in Tennessee included day schools for children, night schools for adults, and Sabbath schools. Rudimentary education, including reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography, received primary emphasis in most Bureau schools. Teachers were recruited from the local white population, from among the freedmen themselves, and from the North by the freedmen's aid societies.

The Bureau's responsibility for education in Tennessee included establishment and maintenance of schools and the examination and appointment of teachers. Bureau funds were used to pay for construction and repair of school buildings, for rental of properties used for educational purposes, and for providing teachers with transportation. A number of schools established by local whites and freedmen were subsequently given direction and support by the Bureau. Teachers' salaries and cost of textbooks were provided by the aid societies and the freedmen.

The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. Originally, no numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes; later, all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this microfilm publication, the last set of assigned numbers are shown in parentheses and are useful as an aid in identifying the volumes. 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.M1000
See more items in:
Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1000
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Texas Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Extent:
18 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1870
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 18 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M822. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Texas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870. The records consist of 12 volumes and some unbound documents. The volumes include letters and endorsements sent, registers of letters received, and record books pertaining to schools, teachers, and educational expenditures of the Bureau. The unbound documents consist primarily of letters and reports received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M822.]

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). Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, appointed Commissioner by the President in May 1865, served in that position throughout the life of the Bureau. The Bureau was twice extended by the acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). In January 1869, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), its operations in the States were terminated except for educational functions and the collection of claims. Remaining activities were terminated June 30, 1872, in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366).

Although the Bureau was part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. It cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to destitute persons and in maintaining freedmen's schools; supervised labor contracts between black employees and white employers; helped black soldiers and sailors to collect bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and other property. In Texas, much of the Bureau's time and effort was expended in protecting freedmen from persecution, intimidation, and physical violence at the hands of whites or other freedmen.

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 States. In September 1865, Brig. Gen. Edgar M. Gregory took command as Assistant Commissioner in Texas. 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 some centralized control was established over the educational activities of the Bureau in the States with the appointment of Rev. John W. Alvord as Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of the financial responsibilities and was redesignated General Superintendent of Education.

The educational activity of the Bureau in Texas began officially with the appointment of E. M. Wheelock as Superintendent of Schools in October 1865. Wheelock served until February 1867, when he became Inspector of Schools, a position he held until June 1867. In March 1867, Lt. I. P. Kirkman became Superintendent of Schools while simultaneously serving as Acting Assistant Adjutant General to the Assistant Commissioner in Texas. In October 1867, Lt. Charles Garretson, the Acting Assistant Adjutant General and Acting Assistant Quartermaster for the Bureau in Texas, also assumed the office then generally referred to as the Superintendent of Education. Wheelock again served as Superintendent from November 1867 to April 1868, when he was succeeded in office by Rev. Joseph Welch. E. C. Bartholomew was Acting Superintendent during Welch's frequent absences from office in 1869 and 1870. Following Louis Stevenson's tenure as Superintendent from March to July 1870, Bartholomew assumed the office and remained until all Bureau officers were withdrawn from Texas in December 1870.

The Superintendent of Education served under the Assistant Commissioner as a staff officer. Subordinate to both the Assistant Commissioner and the Superintendent of Education were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the local field offices into which the State was divided for administrative purposes. Subassistant commissioners supervised all Bureau activities, including education, in their respective areas and reported on educational matters to both the Superintendent of Education and the Assistant Commissioner. After January 1869, the subassistant commissioners were withdrawn from Texas in accordance with the act of July 25, 1868. Subsequently, a few local superintendents of schools (or assistant superintendents of education) were appointed to head the field offices. However, the majority of teachers, who had reported to the subassistant commissioners for their subdistricts before 1869, then reported directly to the Superintendent of Education.

The schools maintained by the Bureau in Texas included day schools for children, night schools for adults, and Sunday schools for both groups. The school regulations devised by the Office of the Superintendent of Education specified that reading, writing, and arithmetic were studies of greatest importance for freedmen; these subjects received the greatest emphasis in most Bureau schools. Teachers were recruited from the local white population, from among the freedmen themselves, and from the North by freedmen's aid societies. In 1867, Assistant Commissioner Joseph Kiddoo concluded an agreement with the American Missionary Association that would provide the schools with teachers in Texas.

The Bureau's responsibility for education included the establishment and maintenance of schools and the examination and appointment of teachers. Bureau funds were used to pay teachers' salaries and provide for their transportation, for the construction and repair of school buildings, and for the rent of properties used for educational purposes. Private organizations and individuals were also involved in establishing and financing freedmen's schools in Texas. A number of these schools were established upon the initiative of local whites and freedmen, although subsequently they were given direction and support by the Bureau. The American Missionary Association provided some of the pay for teachers it recruited, and salaries were partially subsidized by contributions from the freedmen. Bureau policy dictated that, wherever possible, subscriptions be solicited from freedmen for establishing schools and that tuition be charged for each student in attendance.

GENERAL RECORDKEEPING PRACTICES

The Superintendent of Education reported to and corresponded with Commissioner Howard and General Superintendent Alvord in Washington and the Assistant Commissioner concerning educational progress and conditions in Texas. In addition, the Superintendent corresponded with and received reports from subordinate officers and teachers in the field. He also corresponded with aid societies, particularly the American Missionary Association, regarding their contributions to the educational effort in the state.

The correspondence of the Superintendent of Education was handled in accordance with typical 19th–century recordkeeping 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. The replies, known as endorsements, were also copied into volumes; the endorsed letter was then returned to the sender or forwarded to another office. Incoming correspondence was also frequently entered in registers of letters received. In addition to a summary of the contents of the incoming letters, the registers usually included such relevant information as the name and sometimes the office of the writer, the date of receipt, the date of the communication, the place of origin, and the entry number assigned at the time of receipt. The registered letters were folded for filing, generally in three segments, and the information recorded in the registers was transcribed on the outside flap of the documents. Letters sent and registers of letters received were frequently indexed, although not usually by subject. The entries consist primarily of references to names of correspondents.

The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder in sequence by volume number. Originally no numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes; later all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office of the War Department after the records passed into its custody. In this microfilm publication the set of numbers last assigned are in parentheses and are useful as an aid in identifying the volumes. In some volumes there are blank numbered pages that 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.M822
See more items in:
Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Texas Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m822
Additional Online Media:

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

Extent:
50 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1869
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 50 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M826. These digital surrogates reproduced the Records of the Superintendent of Assistant Commissioner for the State of Mississippi, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869. They consist of 41 volumes and approximately 30 feet of unbound records. The volume include letters and endorsements sent; registers of letters received; orders issued and received; registers of indentures and marriages; a register of reports, vouchers, and requisitions received; and index books. The unbound records consist mainly of letters received, orders, reports, freedmen's labor contracts, and a few miscellaneous papers.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M826.]

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 March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). Congress assigned to the Bureau responsibilities that previously had been shared by the military commanders and by the agents of the Treasury Department. The duties included supervision of matters concerning refugees, freedmen, and abandoned property. Under the provisions of the initial legislation, the Bureau was to have been terminated 1 year after the close of the Civil War. It was twice extended by laws of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). Its functions were limited by an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), effective January 1869, to education and assistance in the collection of claims. Remaining Bureau functions were terminated following the discontinuance of the Bureau in 1872, in accordance with a law of June 10 of that year (17 Stat. 366).

In May 1865, the President 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 first Assistant Commissioner of Mississippi was Col. Samuel Thomas, who established his headquarters at Vicksburg in June 1865.1 Although the size and organization of the office varied from time to time, the Assistant Commissioner's staff usually included an Acting Adjutant General, an Assistant Inspector General, a Surgeon in Chief, a Superintendent of Education, a Disbursing Officer, and a Chief Commissary of Subsistence.

At first, the officers subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner were organized in a hierarchical manner. The State of Mississippi and the parishes of Madison, Carroll, Concordia, and Tensas in northeastern Louisiana were divided into the Western, Southern, and Northern Districts, with an Acting Assistant Commissioner in charge of each district. Subassistant commissioners in charge of subdistricts, which usually encompassed several counties, reported to the Assistant Commissioners, who, in turn, reported to the Assistant Commissioner. In January 1866, the Louisiana parishes were placed within the jurisdiction of the Assistant Commissioner for Louisiana. In March 1866, the three districts were discontinued; thereafter, the subassistant commissioners of the civilian agents in charge of subdistricts reported directly to the Assistant Commissioner.

The policies and programs of the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi were established by the Assistant Commissioner and administered primarily through subordinate officers. Bureau officials, in cooperation with benevolent societies, established school for freedmen and issued food, clothing, and medical supplies to refugees and freedmen. They approved or disapproved freedmen's labor contracts and indentures, investigated freedmen's complaints, kept registers of the marriages of freedmen, and helped black soldiers and sailors to file and collect claims for bounties, pensions and pay arrearages. In addition, the Assistant Commissioner maintained several freedmen's hospitals and colonies for destitute freedmen, and provided transportation to return refugees to their homes or to convey freedmen to distant jobs.

In 1865 and 1866, much of the work of the Assistant Commissioner concerned the custody of abandoned property of former supporters of the Confederacy. Officers of the Bureau leased much of the abandoned property and used the proceeds to finance Bureau activities. The Assistant Commissioner maintained colonies for destitute freedmen on several of the abandoned plantations and sometimes utilized abandoned buildings as Bureau offices. The Assistant Commissioner, however, with the approval of the Commissioner of the Bureau, restored most of the property to former owners who signed loyalty oaths or received Presidential pardons.

Colonel Thomas was succeeded by three others officers who acted as both assistant commissioners and military commanders in Mississippi. In April 1866, Gen. Thomas J. Wood was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi, he was succeeded in January 1867 by Gen. Alvan C. Gillem. Appointed Assistant Commissioner in March 1869, Gen. Adelbert Ames established his headquarters at Jackson and supervised the closing of the office of the Assistant Commissioner. The appointment of General Ames was revoked April 30, 1869.

When the Freedmen's Bureau was abolished, its records were sent to the Office of the Adjutant General. Clerks in the Adjutant General's Office numbered the volumes or book records and prepared "indexes" or lists of these books, in this microfilm publication the number assigned to the volume by the clerks in the Adjutant General's Office appears in parenthesis. This number is useful only as a more precise method of identifying the volume.

ENDNOTES

1 Before his appointment to the Freedmen's Bureau, Colonel Thomas served in Mississippi within Chaplain John Eaton's "Freedmen's Department" of the Department of the Tennessee. During the Civil War, several commanders of military departments delegated the superintendence of freedmen's affairs in occupied areas to special organizations, often referred to as "Freedmen's Department." The functions and activities of the Freedmen's Department in Mississippi were similar to those of the later Freedmen's Bureau.
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.M826
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Mississippi, 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-m826
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Texas Field Offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Extent:
28 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1870
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 28 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1912. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Texas Field Offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870, including previous unfilmed records of the Office of the Assistant Commissioner, and records of the office of staff officers and subordinate field offices. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, including letters received and endorsements, monthly school reports, and other records relating to freedmen's complaints and contracts.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this microfilm 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 endorsements sent and received, registers of letters received, press copies of letters sent, letters sent, special orders issued, registers of complaints, and registers of contracts. The unbound documents consist of letters received, registered letters received, receipts, accounts, affidavits and settlements, reports of persons and articles hired, and miscellaneous records. Note: The single letter comprising the series Letters Received from Houston, for January 1865, is missing.

Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers in that period. For example, 4.36.2.1, Endorsements Sent from Richmond, vol. 1 (146), also contains a register of complaints and a register of contracts. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the finding aid to make full use of these records.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Texas:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices for Texas. 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.

AUSTIN

Oct. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Byron Porter

Feb. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Oakes

Apr.–June 1868 and Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Clarence Mauck

June–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Ebenezer Gay

BASTROP

Feb. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Byron Porter

May–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Horton

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner David S. Beath

BEAUMONT

June 1867–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Archer

BELTON

July–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Mathew Young

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles C. Stiles

BOSTON

July 1867–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William G. Kirkman

BRENHAM

Apr.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner F. P. Wood

BROWNSVILLE

Apr.–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles H. Morse

Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Joseph J. Reynolds

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner R. S. Mackenzie

BRYAN

June–Dec. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner N. H. Handlett (at Courtney)

Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner De Witt Brown (at Navasota)

May 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner N. H. Handlett (at Anderson)

Mar.–May 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner N. H. Handlett

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Gillette

CENTERVILLE

Mar.–July 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Fred W. Reinhard

July 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Bradford

Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Edwin Turnock

CLARKSVILLE

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner (See Marlin)

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Sharkley

CLINTON

Apr. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Hiram Clark

COLUMBIA

Jan. 1866–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Hutchison

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner John F. Stokes

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner P. F. Duggan

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. F. N. Rolfe

Jan.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Arthur B. Honer

COLUMBUS

Apr.–July 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. Ernest Goodman

Nov. 1866 and Jan. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Enon M. Harris

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Louis W. Stevenson

COTTON GIN

Apr.–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. F. Manning

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles E. Culver

Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner James T. Hill

Jan.–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Robert P. Wilson

Aug.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner David S. Beath

Oct.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. M. K. Smith

CROCKETT

May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Louis H. Jacobs

Aug.–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner F. W. Reinhard

Sept.–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. S. Hunsaker

Sept.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Henry C. Lacy

Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Gilchrist

GALVESTON

Jan.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. Doubleday

June–July 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Henry Norton

Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. J. Kratz

Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. M. Wheelock

Nov. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner G. M. Bascom

May–Aug. and Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George H. Cram

HALLETTSVILLE

May–June 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. Albert Saylor

Oct. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Hiestand

May 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Phineas Stevens

HOUSTON

Oct.–Dec. 1865 -- Superintendent and Provost Marshal I. C. De Gress

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Gladwin

Jan.–Sept. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Byron Porter

Sept. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner H. H. Edlefron

Oct.–Dec. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner I. C. De Gress

Jan.–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Walter B. Pease

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. D. O'Connell

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William M. Van Horn

Jan.–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Walter B. Pease

Mar.–June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William M. Van Horn

June–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner M. E. Davis

HUNTSVILLE

Oct. 1866–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner James C. Devine

June 1867–May 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James P. Butler

LIBERTY

Aug. 1866–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. H. Mayer

Mar.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. H. Cox

LOCKHART

June–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Thomas H. Baker

MARLIN

Jan.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner F. B. Sturgis

Aug.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles F. Rand (at Gilmer)

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles F. Rand (at Clarksville)

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles F. Rand

MARSHAL

Dec. 1866–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles F. Rand

May 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Adam G. Malloy

Apr.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. M. K. Smith

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner H. Sweeney

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. C. Henshaw

MATAGORDA

May–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William Garretson

MERIDIAN

Jan. 1866–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Philip Howard

NACOGDOCHES

Oct.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. M. K. Smith

May–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Alex Ferguson

PALESTINE

Dec. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Subassistant Commissioner Alfred Hedberg

RICHMOND

Jan.–July 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Sam C. Sloan

Oct.–Nov. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles C. Hardenbrook

Aug.–Oct. 1866 and Dec. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William H. Rock

SAN ANTONIO

June–Sept. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Joseph Ferguson

Nov. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner F. B. Sturgis

Mar.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Edward W. Whittemore

May 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John S. Mason

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. W. Eckles

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. R. Fitch

SEGUIN

Jan.–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Smith

Oct. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Whittemore

June–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner C. C. Raymond

STERLING

Sept. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Lemuel K. Morton

Apr. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. L. Randall

SUMPTER

Sept.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner H. S. Johnson

Apr.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles Schmidt

TYLER

Mar. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner David L. Montgomery

Mar.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Gregory Barrett, Jr.

Oct.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. T. Hartz

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Horace Jewett

WACO

Jan.–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. F. Manning

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Edwin Mauck

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. W. Evans

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Jay

Dec. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Emerson D. F. Stiles

Mar.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles Haughn

WHARTON

Jan.–July 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. W. McConaughy

Nov. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles F. Rand

Dec. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Horton

Apr.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner De Witt Brown

June 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Ira H. Evans

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Nesbit B. Jenkins
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.M1912
See more items in:
Records of the Texas Field Offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1912
Additional Online Media:

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

Extent:
89 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 89 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1911. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Tennessee field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. Included are the records of the offices of staff officers and subordinate field offices. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, including letters and endorsements sent and received, orders and circulars, monthly reports, and other records relating to freedmen's complaints and claims.
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, registers of letters received, unregistered letters received, general and special orders and circulars received, registers of claimants for bounties and pay arrearages, and registers of indentures of apprenticeship. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters received and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, general and special orders and circulars received, and other series.

A few series were created in 1862–1864, prior to formation of the Bureau, by Union military commanders and U. S. Treasury agents, and included in the Bureau's records. Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers in that period. In Series 2.3, for example, the volume of special orders issued also contains a register of medical officers. Researchers should read carefully the descriptions of records and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these records.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1911.]

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 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.

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 offices 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 TENNESSEE

ORGANIZATION

In Tennessee, the Bureau's operations began on July 1, 1865, when Brig. Gen. Clinton B. Fisk took command as Assistant Commissioner. General Fisk originally divided Tennessee into three subdistricts with headquarters at Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga. Later, two additional subdistricts were added with headquarters at Pulaski and Knoxville. The subdistricts were further subdivided into agencies with boundaries that usually coincided with county lines. Among the more significant of these additional local offices were those headquartered at Columbia, Gallatin, Jackson, Kingston, Lebanon, Murfreesboro, Purdy, Springfield, and Trenton. In addition, from July 1865 to June 1866, the Assistant Commissioner of Tennessee also had jurisdiction over Kentucky and the northern part of Alabama.

Brig. Gen. John R. Lewis succeeded Fisk in September 1866, and served to December 1866; Maj. Gen. William P. Carlin served from January 1867 to October 1868; and Lt. Col. James Thompson served from October 1868 to May 1869 (the last several months as superintendent of education). At that time, in accordance with the act of July 25, 1868, Bureau operations were terminated except for educational functions and the collection of claims.

ACTIVITIES

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

From July 1865 through October 1866, the Freedmen's Bureau issued nearly 150,000 rations to both freedmen and white refugees in Tennessee and Kentucky. In addition, several charitable organizations contributed significant amounts of corn, clothing, and fuel to aid the destitute. A special $10,000 relief fund was authorized by Congress for the Bureau's use in the event of major destitution in the state. To treat the sick and poor, Tennessee Bureau officials opened dispensaries and/or hospitals in Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Nashville, and Memphis, Tennessee; and in Kentucky, hospitals at Columbus and Camp Nelson, and a dispensary at Louisville. Beginning in late summer 1867 through early fall 1868, the Bureau's ration–relief program was, by and large, limited to a small hospital at Nashville and an orphan asylum at Memphis.1

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee. Like in most states under its control, labor contracts between the two parties had to be approved by Bureau officials and usually lasted for one year. Freedmen who worked for wages generally received $150 – $180 per year, including clothing and housing. About half of the freedmen who signed labor agreements in 1866 in Tennessee worked for a share of the crop. During the year ending in the fall of 1866, Tennessee Bureau officers registered some 20,000 contracts that included approximately 50,000 adults and children. While there were no general rules involving the enforcement of labor agreements, the Bureau's Tennessee office made use of provost courts, military commissions, freedmen courts, and local courts to resolve disputes between freedmen and planters. By 1868, labor conditions in Tennessee worsened. An increase in outrages against freedmen and continued attacks from the recently organized Ku Klux Klan threatened to undermine the free labor system and destabilize Tennessee communities. By 1869, with assistance from the Bureau, some degree of calm was returned to the state and most freedmen were working under contracts earning as much as $150 per year.2

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was also a priority of the Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee. Following the Civil War, many laws in the state restricted the rights and legal status of freedpeople. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes and excluded from giving testimony in state courts. Under federal law, the Freedmen's Bureau was authorized to adjudicate all cases where freedmen were being denied the same rights as whites. When Gen. Clinton B. Fisk assumed office as Assistant Commissioner for Tennessee, he immediately established freedmen courts (Bureau courts) to insure justice for blacks. In January 1866, in an effort to remove the need for Bureau courts, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a measure allowing freedmen testimony. However, suspicious of the state's motives and its sincerity to administer equal justice to blacks in local courts, Fisk continued to operate Bureau courts until May 1866. When Bureau courts were discontinued, freedmen had to rely on state officials to protect their rights. In an 1868 report to Commissioner Howard on the operations and conditions in Tennessee, then–Assistant Commissioner W. L Carlin reported that "justice [by civil authorities regarding freedmen] has been impartially administered in the matters arising out of [labor] contracts . . . [but] the enforcement of the laws in criminal cases has been very imperfect."3

The Bureau's educational activity in Tennessee was under the direction of Assistant Commissioner Fisk until the appointment of Lt. Col. Alexander M. York as superintendent of education on July 28, 1865. York was succeeded on August 23 by John Ogden, who served until May 1866. Ogden's successor, Rev. David Burt, served until April 1868, at which time Bvt. Lt. Col. James Thompson assumed the office in addition to his Assistant Commissioner duties. In May 1869, Bvt. Lt. Col. Charles E. Compton assumed the educational duties until July 1870, when all of the Bureau's educational activities in the state ceased.

Within months of his arrival at Nashville as Assistant Commissioner, General Fisk had charge of about 75 schools and more than 260 teachers who were instructing nearly 15,000 students in Tennessee and Kentucky. The Bureau in Tennessee provided rent, construction, and repair of school buildings, and employment and transportation for teachers. The daily operation of the schools was shared by the Freedmen's Bureau, benevolent societies, and, over time, by freedmen themselves. To improve the quality of education for black students and increase the number of qualified teachers, the Bureau sought to establish teacher training schools. On January 9, 1866, with funds provided by the American Missionary Association of New York City and the Western Freedmen's Aid Commission of Cincinnati, Ohio, Fisk University was established as the first teacher training school for blacks in Tennessee. Working closely with the Freedmen's Bureau, the university had an enrollment of more than 800 students by year's end.

Despite the Bureau's goal to provide freedmen with a sound education, teachers and pupils came under repeated attacks from hostile whites, and many schools were either damaged or destroyed. In 1866, the Bureau spent much of its resources repairing and constructing new schoolhouses in Nashville, Tullahoma, Springfield, Memphis, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Smyrna, Shelbyville, and other locations. With a February 1867 act of the Tennessee legislature, black schools that had been formerly maintained by the Freedmen's Bureau, freedmen, and benevolent societies, were all placed under the newly created Tennessee school system by 1868. By the end of 1869, some 100,000 freedmen students were attending "Separate and Segregated" schools maintained and funded by the state.4

ENDNOTES

1 Senate Ex. Doc. No. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, 133 – 136; The Bureau's relief efforts in Tennessee are also explained in Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Tennessee, September 30, 1867 [pp. 5 – 6], and October 10, 1868 [p. 4], Records of the Commissioner, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, RG 105, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.

2 Weymouth T. Jordan, "The Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee," The East Tennessee Historical Society's Publications, 11 (1939): 54 – 55; See also Senate Ex. Doc. No. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, 130.

3 Jordan, "The Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee," 50 – 51; Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Tennessee, September 30, 1868 [p. 7]. See also Monthly and Narrative Reports of Operations and Conditions, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M999, Rolls 16 – 18).

4 Jordan, "The Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee, 55 – 58; See also Frank M. Hodgson, "Northern Missionary Aid Societies, The Freedmen's Bureau and Their Effect on Education in Montgomery County, Tennessee, 1862–1870," The West Tennessee Historical Society [Memphis] Papers, XLIII (December 1889): 45.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Tennessee:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices for Tennessee. 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 in other Tennessee appointment–related records.

OFFICES OF STAFF OFFICERS

Feb.–May 1866 -- Superintendent of Education John Ogden

Sept. 1866–Apr. 1868 -- Superintendent of Education D. Burt

May 1868–May 1869 -- Superintendent of Education James Thompson

May 1869–July 1870 -- Superintendent of Education C. E. Compton

BOLIVAR

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner T. H. Reeves

BROWNSVILLE

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Agent I. L. Poston

Apr.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner I. L. Poston

CHARLOTTE

Nov. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent A. P. Nicks

CHATTANOOGA

Aug. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Superintendent N. B. Lucas

Mar.–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent F. E. Trotter

Oct. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent M. H. Church

Apr.–Oct. 1867 -- Superintendent Samuel Walker (also at Knoxville)

Apr. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James M. Johnson

Mar.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James M. Johnson

Nov. 1868–Feb. 1869 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims James M. Johnson

Feb.–May 1869 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims James Ware (also at Cleveland)

CLEVELAND

Jan. 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent James Ware

COLUMBIA

Nov. 1868 -- Agent H. A. Eastman

Nov. 1868–Apr. 1869 -- Agent T. H. Reeves

May 1869–Mar. 1871 -- Disbursing Officer of Claims John L. Wilson

FRANKLIN

Mar.–July 1866 -- Superintendent George E. Judd

GALLATIN

Mar.–June 1867 -- Superintendent James M. Hopkins

July 1867–Nov. 1868 -- Superintendent Henry C. McQuiddly

Dec. 1868–Nov. 1869 -- Agent and Disbursing Officer of Claims Isaac Porter

JACKSON

Jan. 1867 -- Superintendent G. E. Green

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Alvin Allen

JOHNSONVILLE

Aug. 1867 -- Agent John Enoch

Nov. 1867–Apr. 1869 -- Agent John L. Wilson

JONESBORO

Feb.–May 1867 -- Superintendent Herman Bokum

June–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Linus T. Squire

KINGSTON

Oct. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson

Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson (also at Shelbyville)

KNOXVILLE

Aug. 1865–July 1866 -- Special Agent John Henry

July–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent J. W. Groisbick

Apr.–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel Walker

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel Walker

Dec. 1868–Feb. 1871 -- Disbursing Officer of Claims Samuel Walker

Feb.–June 1871 -- Agent Samuel Walker

LEBANON

Oct. 1865–May 1866 -- Agent S. B. F. C. Barr

Aug. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent W. H. Goodwin

Apr.–May 1867 -- Agent J. M. Tracy

June 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent K. J. Sample

MEMPHIS, The Subdistrict of Memphis

July–Sept. 1865 -- Superintendent Davis Tillson

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Superintendent A. T. Reeve

Feb.–July 1866 -- Chief Superintendent Benjamin P. Runkle

July 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Chief Superintendent John S. Palmer

Mar. 1867–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John S. Palmer

Nov. 1868–Dec. 1870 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims John S. Palmer

Dec. 1870–Apr. 1872 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims Mark Edwards

PROVOST MARSHAL OF FREEDMEN

Sept.–Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen A. T. Reeve

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen T. H. Ward

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen S. S. Garrett

MURFREESBORO

Aug.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent James M. Tracy

Sept. 1866–June 1868 -- Agent J. K. Nelson

July–Oct. 1868 -- Agent John Dean

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- General Claim Agent George E. Judd

Feb.–June 1869 -- Disbursing Officer of Claims George E. Judd

NASHVILLE, The Subdistrict of Nashville

July–Sept. 1866 -- Chief Superintendent J. R. Lewis

Oct. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Chief Superintendent M. Walsh

Mar. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner M. Walsh

Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson

Apr.–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George E. Judd

July–Nov. 1868 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner Joseph W. Gilray

Dec. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Inspector Joseph W. Gilray

NASHVILLE

June 1866–May 1867 -- Superintendent John Lawrence

June 1867–Apr. 1872 -- Superintendent J. B. Coons

PARIS

May–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Jesse A. Brown

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner L. T. Squire

PULASKI

Aug. 1866–Apr. 1868 -- Superintendent George E. Judd

Apr.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson

PURDY

Jan. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Fielding Hurst

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. H. Reeves (also at Bolivar)

SPRINGFIELD

Aug. 1865–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent D. D. Holman

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Superintendent James H. Stickney

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Agent Henry W. Barr

TRENTON

Dec. 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. A. Blakemore

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. M. Tracy

Sept. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Isaac Porter (also at Dyersburg)

May–Oct. 1868 -- Agent Isaac Porter (also at Humboldt)

WAYNE COUNTY

Mar.–July 1866 -- Superintendent John L. Fowler

WINCHESTER

Oct. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Agent Frederick A. Loughmiller
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.M1911
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Tennessee, 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-m1911
Additional Online Media:

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

Extent:
34 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 34 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1900. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Alabama Office of the Assistant Commissioner, his 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:
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 a number of 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, fair copies of letters received, letters and orders received, registers of freedmen issued rations, special orders and circulars issued, registers of bounty claimants, reports, registers of contracts, registers of complaints, registers of patients, registers of disbursements, account books, miscellaneous records, and monthly reports forwarded to the Assistant Commissioner. The unbound documents consist of letters sent and received and endorsements sent, reports, applications for relief, labor contracts, rosters of officers and employees, court records, special and general orders and circulars received, and miscellaneous records. The unbound records also contain monthly reports; oaths of office; applications of freedmen for rations; and records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.

From June 1866 to January 1868, Assistant Commissioner Swayne also served as the military commander of Alabama. He therefore created and received records in both capacities. The dual function of the Assistant Commissioner resulted in a succession of changes in the official headings used on correspondence and issuances. The title "Office of the Assistant Commissioner" was changed in June 1866 to "Headquarters, District of Alabama," and in August 1866 to "Headquarters, Subdistrict of Alabama." The heading "District of Alabama" was used again from March 1867 until superseded by "State of Alabama" in February 1868. The dual function of the office is also reflected in the recordkeeping practices for that period. Although the Assistant Commissioner generally maintained separate records for each of his capacities, in the case of letters and endorsements sent the records were frequently combined. Wherever they were separable, the records created by the Assistant Commissioner in his military capacity were placed with the Records of United States Army Continental Commands, 1821–1920, RG 393.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1900.]

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. In Alabama, operations began in July 1865 when Brig. Gen. Wager Swayne took command as Assistant Commissioner. Bvt. Brig. Julius Hayden succeeded Swayne and served from January to March 1868. Col. Oliver L. Shepherd served from March to August 1868, and Col. T. H. Ruger held the position of Assistant Commissioner for only a few days in August before the arrival of Bvt. Lt. Col. Edwin Beecher later in that month. In January 1869, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Bureau operations in Alabama were terminated except for the educational functions and the collection of claims. Colonel Beecher remained in Alabama as superintendent of education and held that position until the office was closed in July 1870. The majority of Bureau officers and agents in Alabama were active duty military officers, and for the first two years of the Bureau's existence in Alabama, the agency doubled as the military command for the district. Brig. Gen. Swayne, for example, served as Assistant Commissioner and District Military Commander for Alabama from 1866 to 1868. As a consequence of the wide use of military officers to staff the Bureau, the agency constantly struggled with issues of continuity as well as a lack of personnel to staff the various field offices. At one point at the end of 1866, the Bureau could only staff eight stations in Alabama due to a critical shortage of qualified personnel.

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 Alabama included headquarters at Demopolis, Eufaula, Garland, Greenville, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Opelika, Selma, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, and Tuskegee. 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 Alabama 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 ALABAMA

The Freedmen's Bureau's major activities in Alabama 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.

Shortly after accepting the position of Assistant Commissioner in Alabama, Brig. Gen. Swayne requested permission from the Freedmen's Bureau headquarters in Washington, DC, to set aside 1,225 acres of land on the Broward Plantation near Montgomery for freedmen. The plantation had been abandoned shortly before the end of the war and was confiscated by Federal authorities. Montgomery Home Colony, established on some of this land, became the largest of several "home colonies" set aside to provide services for the freedmen. Home colonies were also established at Talladega, Mobile, Garland, Butler County, Montgomery, Selma, Demopolis, and Huntsville. The colonies were not self–sufficient communities of freedmen like those found in South Carolina or Louisiana. Instead, the colonies were distribution centers where the Bureau disseminated rations, clothes, seeds, and tools; processed claims; provided medical care; and organized services for the infirm, orphans, and the elderly. The central functions of these colonies were organized around a freedmen's hospital. The freedmen's hospital at Montgomery offered services to all races. From November 1866 to August 1867, it treated 168 refugees (whites), five of whom died. During the same period, the hospital treated 6,058 freedmen, of whom 162 died.

From 1865 to 1867, Alabama suffered repeated and massive crop failures due to drought or frost conditions. During the same period, the state was swept by a series of epidemics, with smallpox proving the most deadly disease affecting the freedmen. In addition to medical care, one of the most important duties for the Bureau in Alabama was the issuance of rations to refugees and freedmen to stave off malnutrition and starvation.

The Alabama Bureau also expended great resources and energy mitigating contract disputes between freedmen and white landowners as well as attempting to overturn draconian "black codes" enacted by the Alabama State Legislature and signed by the Governor. In his 1866 annual report to the Washington, DC, headquarters of the Bureau, Swayne complained that white landowners rampantly defrauded freedmen of benefits spelled out in their labor contracts.1 However, Swayne complained most extensively in this report about a particular set of "black codes" passed by the Legislature late in 1865 as vagrancy laws. These codes were passed shortly before Christmas after widespread complaints by white landowners that freedmen refused to work during the Christmas week. Apparently, freedmen expected to continue the tradition of time off from work at Christmas dating back to the antebellum years. Brig. Gen. Swayne charged that these laws returned freedmen to a state of slavery. First, he pointed to the authorized use of chain gangs in which freedmen worked with no compensation for even the most minor offenses. Second, the newly established probate courts often worked against freedmen. They were responsible for settling contract disputes between freedmen and white landowners. However, one component of the law passed by the Legislature stipulated that freedmen were not allowed to testify against whites or serve on juries. In cases where the courts found in favor of the white landowners, the presiding judge had the option of forcing freedmen into uncompensated labor for the white landowners or impressing freedmen's children as free laborers for the litigant. The black codes also authorized county officials to impress orphaned children as laborers on local plantations. Swayne was able to convince the Alabama Legislature to eventually overturn most of these codes. In districts where he could not force the probate courts to fairly enforce the law, he set up special freedmen's courts to hear complaints.

However, Swayne was unable to convince the Legislature to overturn provisions of the vagrancy laws that allowed widespread arrests of freedmen. The code authorized local and state law enforcement officials to summarily arrest those freedmen without contract papers who were allegedly causing "disturbances" in public places and roads. The normal punishment under this penal code was forced labor on nearby plantations. Finally, in March 1867, the Bureau saw this law overturned through the Military Reconstruction Bill for the District of Alabama (14 Stat. 429).

The Freedmen's Bureau in Alabama had a major impact in providing education for freedmen from 1866 to 1869. Due to its limited budget and resources, the Bureau was unable to directly establish and operate the great number of freedmen schools needed. However, the successive Assistant Commissioners proved very adept at finding other means for establishing these schools. They successfully implemented a three–way partnership program in which a wide variety of Northern relief societies flooded the state with resources to build schools, money for books and teachers, or volunteer members who instructed the freedmen for no fee. The freedmen were often responsible for actual maintenance of facilities as well as contributions of money and resources for upkeep of the local schools. Bureau agents oversaw the education program and provided land and protection for the schools. The results of this program were impressive. At the beginning of the school year in October 1866, there were 3,100 freedmen in classes taught by 68 teachers. By June 1867, these figures had grown to just under 10,000 students instructed by 150 teachers.

ENDNOTES

1 Annual Report of the Assistant Commissioner, Montgomery, AL, October 31, 1866, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M809, Roll 2), Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Record Group (RG) 105, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Alabama:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices in Alabama. 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.

DEMOPOLIS

Aug.–Dec. 1865 -- Subassistant Commissioner Capt. A. C. Haltonstall

Jan. 1866–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Bvt Maj. C. W. Pierce

Feb.–May 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Lt. A. J. Bennett

June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner C. L. Drake

July–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner R. A. Wilson

GREENVILLE

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. L. Brown

Nov. 1865–ca. June 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. W. Mostyn

ca. June 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. F. McGogy

Feb.–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel Gardner

June–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William H. Peck

Sept.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel Gardner

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. A. Hart

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel Gardner

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. F. McGogy

HUNTSVILLE

Sept. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. M. Goodfellow

Jan. 1866–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. B. Callis

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Robert Harrison

Mar.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. C. Rugg

HUNTSVILLE AND ATHENS

Apr.–Sept. 1868 -- Claims Agent J. W. Wilis

Sept. 1868–Jan. 1872 -- Claims Agent John Wager

JACKSONVILLE

May–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner and Agent Robert Harrison

Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner and Agent William McKibbin (Agent)

MOBILE

Apr.–Aug. 1865 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Harmount

Oct. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Robinson

Apr.–May 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner G. A. Washbum

May–Aug. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner L. J. Whiting

Sept.–Oct. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Joseph Logan

Nov. 1866–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Tracy

Sept. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Gillette

Aug.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John Hyde

Sept.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. H. Weirman

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Frank Towle

MONTGOMERY

Oct. 1865–Dec. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner George A. Harmount

Dec. 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner L. J. Whiting

Aug. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. C. Hendrix

OPELIKA

June 1867–June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner R. T. Smith

July–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John Bannister

Aug.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. B. Smith

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner G. W. Kingsbury

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. B. Smith

SELMA

Mar.–June 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel S. Gardner

June–July 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner F. D. Ogilby

July–Aug. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel S. Gardner

Aug. 1866–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Shorkley

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles C. Bartlett

TALLADEGA

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. P. Cilley

Dec. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. Humphrey

Apr. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner R. Tlieune

Feb. 1867–June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. F. McGogy

June–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George P. Sherwood

TUSCALOOSA

Jan.–Apr. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Jesse W. Cogswell

Apr. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Peck

Apr. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Robert Blair

TUSCUMBIA

May–June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Henry Sweeney

June–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Heilman

Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John Raines

TUSKEGEE

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Andrew Geddes

Nov. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Spencer Smith
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.M1900
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Alabama, 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-m1900
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Mississippi Freedmen's Department ("Pre–Bureau Records"), Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1865

Extent:
5 Reels
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Reels
Date:
1863–1865
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on five rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1914. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Freedmen's Department (Precursor to the Office of the Assistant Commissioner in the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands) for the period 1863–1865. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters sent and received, operations and ration reports, registers of freedmen, labor contracts, and other records relating to orders issued and received, hospitals, and schools.
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 sent and received, special orders issued and received, registers of freedmen contracts and rations issued, school lists, registers of patients, and hospital reports. The unbound documents consist of letters and circulars issued and received, oaths of allegiance and evidence of amnesty, reports of operations and abandoned property, and reports of teachers and missionaries serving in the areas.

Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers of that period. In Series 1 (1.6), for example, the volumes of registers of rations issued to freedmen and planters also contain a few special orders issued by the provost marshal general of freedmen. Another example of additional series within volumes can be found in the volumes of registers of patients on Series 2 (2.2.3). Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these documents.
Biographical / Historical:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1914.]

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU

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 DEPARTMENT

ORGANIZATION

In November 1862, the War Department appointed Col. John Eaton as general superintendent of contrabands in the Department of the Tennessee and the State of Arkansas. The Department's territory included the area from Cairo, Illinois, southward to the Mississippi Valley, including the cities of Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, and Little Rock, and the military posts of Columbus, Island 10, Corinth, Helena, Du Vall's Bluff, Pine Bluff, Fort Smith, Goodrich Landing, Milliken's Bend, and Davis Bend. In June 1863, Capt. Samuel Thomas was appointed assistant superintendent of contrabands under Colonel Eaton, for the Department in the area of Helena, Arkansas. Eaton's position and title were eventually changed to general superintendent of freedmen, and Thomas became the assistant superintendent of freedmen. When Col. Thomas assumed supervisory responsibilities for the provost marshals in various districts and posts, his title was changed to provost marshal of freedmen. The positions of both Eaton and Thomas, coupled with the office of the medical director, inspector of freedmen, and several freedmen's hospitals and homes, constituted the Freedmen's Department of the Department of the Tennessee. In November 1864, the Freedmen's Department became a part of the Department of Mississippi. By the summer of 1865, the functions and activities of the Freedmen's Department were assumed by the recently formed Freedmen's Bureau, so that the Department was the precursor of the Bureau's Office of the Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi.

ACTIVITIES

The functions and activities in the Freedmen's Department were similar to those of the later Freedmen's Bureau. The Department assisted freedpeople in securing food, clothing, shelter, medicines and medical attention, employment, land, education, and help in a variety of social matters, including legalizing freedmen marriages.

When Col. John Eaton assumed the office of superintendent of contrabands for the Department of Tennessee in 1862, his responsibilities included providing for the physical welfare of freedmen and the supervision of confiscated and abandoned lands under military control. Faced with the enormous challenge of providing relief for the thousands of starved and destitute freedmen who had flocked to Union lines, and to encourage freedmen to become self–supporting, Eaton established "contraband" camps and put freedmen to work cutting wood, hauling, erecting cabins, and gathering crops from the abandoned fields. While freedmen in most cases were not paid directly for their labor, proceeds from their labor were used to provide them with food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. In December 1863, the War Department appointed D. O. McCord as medical director of freedmen for the Department of Tennessee and Arkansas. McCord found only eight surgeons and one hospital to care for the medical needs of freedmen. He enlarged the staff to 32 and provided medical services for nearly every camp in the department's jurisdiction.1 Medical assistance was provided for hospitals at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana; and Vicksburg, Goodrich's Landing, Pau Pau, Parks Camp, and Davis Bend, Mississippi.

In March 1863, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton sent Adj. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas to the Mississippi Valley to develop a program that would enable freedmen to become self–sufficient and provide "useful service" as laborers and soldiers. Gen. Thomas instituted a plan that called for the leasing of abandoned and confiscated plantations to private individuals who would agree to hire freedmen. Three commissioners were appointed to supervise the leasing, and with the help of assistant provost marshals, they settled disputes that arose between freedmen and lessees (planters). Contraband camps were to be continued but only as a place for the unemployed and a source for acquiring able–bodied laborers to work on plantations. Planters were responsible for providing food, clothing, and monthly wages for the persons they employed. Male hands were paid $7 per month, women $5, and children between the ages of 12 and 15 received half wages. Instead of paying ordinary rent, planters were required to the pay the Federal Government a produce tax that amounted to "two dollars for each four hundred pounds of cotton produced and five cents for every bushel of corn or potatoes." To protect freedmen and planters from the attacks of "guerillas," Gen. Thomas established a "colored invalid corps." Comprised of black men unsuited for field service but capable of other military duties, the 9th and 7th Regiments, Louisiana Volunteers (later the 63rd and 64th Regiments, U. S. Colored Troops), provided the means for maintaining law and order under martial law. Col. Eaton served as the commander of the 9th regiment, and Samuel Thomas was colonel of the 7th regiment.2

Gen. Thomas's agricultural plan was not without debate and controversy. Questions concerning the benefits of his plan toward the welfare of freedmen and whether the army was the appropriate agency to handle the leasing of plantations caused considerable friction among military and Treasury officials. Nevertheless, by the end of 1863, camps, leasing of plantations, and employment of freedmen was transferred from the army to the Treasury Department. Under Treasury regulations, "home farms" replaced contraband camps as employment centers and homes for those freedmen unsuited for plantation work. Home farms were located at Helena, AR, Goodrich's Landing and Milliken's Bend, LA; and Natchez, Skipwith's Landing, Vicksburg, and Davis Bend, MS. Planter's seeking laborers from home farms had to apply to Treasury officials, and all able–bodied freedmen above the age of 12 were required to work. Freedmen who lived and labored on government home farms and chose not to contract with planters, received food and clothing but were not paid for their labor. Plantation laborers however, received wages according to a classification system based on their value as laborers. For example, first–class males received $25 dollars per month and second– and third–class males received $20 and $15 dollars, respectively. First–, second–, and third–class females received $18, $14, and $13 dollars, respectively. Planters were responsible for providing laborers with sufficient housing, and families with four or more persons were to be provided one–acre plots (without cost) for gardens. Sharecropping contracts were allowed as long as they were approved by Treasury personnel. The Treasury plan also called for the establishment of schools and mandatory attendance of children between the ages of 6 and 12. Despite its reforms, the Treasury plan was short–lived, and by March 1864, Gen. Thomas had regained control of freedmen affairs.3 The issue over the management of freedmen affairs and abandoned lands was not resolved until the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau.

While most freedmen in the Mississippi Valley worked as laborers in government camps and on privately run plantations, some freedmen managed to lease and rent farms from the Federal Government for their own use. With assistance from leasing officials and Treasury agents, black farmers in the valley increased from 250 in 1864 to nearly 500 by 1865, with the largest contingent in areas around Helena, AR, and Vicksburg, MS. Perhaps the most notable example of black independent farming was at Davis Bend, the home of Jefferson Davis and his brother Joseph. On March 28, 1864, Gen. Lorenzo Thomas, ordered that the three Davis estates "Hurricane," "Palmyra," and "Big Black," were to be "reserved for military purposes, and will exclusively be devoted to the colonization, residence and support of Freedmen." The army supplied mules, wagons, and other farming implements. Black lessees were responsible for paying for items supplied by the government after raising a crop. Gen. Thomas' order also required that all white persons had to leave the area before January 1, 1865, and were only to return with the written permission from government officials. By the end of the 1864 planting season, and despite the destruction caused by the army worm, some 180 black lessees managed to produce nearly 130 bales of cotton and made enough profit from other crops to sustain their operations through the following spring.4

Early efforts by the Freedmen's Department to provide educational assistance to freedmen were limited. Lack of funds, inadequate schoolhouses, and the virtual absence of secure housing for teachers, reduced the Department's role to one of providing advice on the location of schools and where teachers were needed most. The Department relied, for the most part, on the work of army chaplains and teachers and missionaries from such groups as the American Missionary Association, the Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, the Society of Friends, the Board of Missions of the United Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Presbyterians, the United Brethren in Christ, the North Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, and the National Freedmen's Relief Association. To aid their work, the Department supplied teachers with rations, quarters, transportation, and in a few instances, places to teach. Convinced that freedmen education would be more efficient and effective if it were placed under the authority of the Freedmen's Department, General Thomas directed the general superintendent of freedmen to designate "Superintendents of Colored Schools" who were to be responsible for the location and opening of schools, collection of tuition, the occupation of houses and schoolrooms, and other matters relating to the education of freedmen. Industrial schools were established to teach black women how to properly care for their families.5

To assist freedmen in solemnizing slave marriages and to encourage family relations, General Thomas, under Special Order Number 15 (March 28, 1864), announced that "Any ordained Minister of the Gospel, accredited by the General Superintendent of Freedmen, is hereby authorized to solemnize the rite of marriage among Freedmen." Marriage certificates and licenses were produced, and Chaplains and Missionaries were issued detailed instructions on when and how they should be used. Ministers who performed freedmen marriages were required to send "Returns" to post superintendents containing such data as ages of the couples, the color of the couple's parents, the number of years the couple lived with another person, how separated, number of children, and number of children by previous marriage. Marriage registers were maintained to identify couples, resolve matters relating to inheritance, and to assist in the settlement of claims against the Federal Government, especially those involving deceased black soldiers. Many of the freedmen seeking to legalize their unions had lived in long–standing relations.6

ENDNOTES

1 Paul S. Peirce, The Freedmen's Bureau: A Chapter in the History of Reconstruction (University of Iowa: 1904), p. 9; See also Report of the General Superintendent, Freedmen Department of the Tennessee and State of Arkansas for 1864 (Memphis, Tennessee, 1865), pp. 94 – 95.

2 George R. Bentley, A History of the Freedmen's Bureau (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944), pp. 22 – 23; see also Louis S. Gerteis, From Contraband to Freedman: Federal Policy Toward Southern Blacks, 1861–1865 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, Inc. 1973), pp.155 – 156.

3 For a discussion of freedmen's affairs and abandoned lands in the Mississippi Valley, see Gerteis, From Contraband to Freedman, pp. 119 – 181.

4 Ibid., pp. 169 – 181. See also, Report of the General Superintendent, Freedmen Department, pp. 40 – 41.

5 Report of the General Superintendent, Freedmen Department, pp. 80 – 87.

6 Ibid., pp. 88 – 94.
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.M1914
See more items in:
Records of the Mississippi Freedmen's Department ("Pre–Bureau Records"), Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1865
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1914
Additional Online Media:

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

Extent:
32 Reels
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Reels
Date:
1865–1869
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 32 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M821. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869. The records consist of 10 volumes and some unbound documents. The volumes include letters and endorsements sent, orders issued, registers of letters received, and a "record of criminal offenses." The unbound documents consist primarily of letters and reports received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M821.]

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 the 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 throughout the life of the Bureau. In January 1869, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), its operations in the States were terminated except for educational functions and collection of claims. Remaining activities were terminated June 30, 1872, as required by an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366).

Although the Bureau was part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. It cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to destitute persons and in maintaining freedmen's schools; supervised labor contracts between black employees and white employers; helped black soldiers and sailors to collect bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and other property. In Texas, much of the Bureau's time and effort was expended in protecting freedmen from persecution, intimidation, and physical violence at the hands of whites or other freedmen.

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 States. In Texas, operations began in September 1865 when Brig. Gen. Edgar M. Gregory took command as Assistant Commissioner and established headquarters at Galveston. Brig. Gen. Joseph Kiddoo relieved Gregory in May 1866 and was himself succeeded by Maj. Gen. Charles Griffin in January 1867, When Griffin died in office in September 1867, Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds assumed the duties of Assistant Commissioner but was absent from actual duty until November 1867; in the interim Lt. Charles Garretson, the Acting Assistant Adjutant General, acted as Assistant Commissioner. Upon his arrival, Reynolds moved the headquarters from Galveston to Houston, where it remained until the Bureau ended its operations in the State. In January 1869 Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby succeeded Reynolds who subsequently resumed office in April and served until the Bureau, except for the Superintendent of Education, withdrew from Texas in May 1869.

Beginning in 1867 the Assistant Commissioners of Texas also served as the military commanders of Texas. The dual function of the Assistant Commissioners resulted in a succession of changes in the official headings used on correspondence and issuances. The title "Headquarters, Bureau R. F. & A. L." was changed in December 1867 to "Headquarters, Dist. Texas, Bureau R. F. & A. L." The heading "Headquarters, 5th Military Dist., Bureau R. F. & A. L." was used from August to December 1868, when the original heading was readopted. Although the Assistant Commissioners created and received records in both aspects of their dual capacities, they appear to have maintained separate sets of records for each.

The records that they created and received as military commanders of Texas are among Records of United States Army Continental Commands, 1821–1920, Record Group 393, and are not reproduced in this microfilm publication. The Assistant Commissioner's staff at various times consisted of an Assistant Adjutant General (or Acting Assistant Adjutant General), a Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer (or Assistant Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer, or Acting Assistant Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer), a Surgeon–in–Chief (or Chief Medical Officer), an Acting Assistant Inspector General (or Inspector), an Inspector of Schools, a Superintendent of Schools (or Superintendent of Education), and an Assistant Superintendent of Education. Upon occasion several of the offices were performed simultaneously by a single individual.

Subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner and his staff were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the local field offices into which the state was divided for administrative purposes. Before 1867, one or more subassistant commissioners were assigned to particular county offices as was deemed appropriate by the Assistant Commissioner. On February 12, 1867, however, a circular letter issued by the Bureau headquarters in Washington directed that the states be divided into subdistricts consisting of counties designated by the Assistant Commissioner. Accordingly, on April 1, 1867, Assistant Commissioner Griffin issued a circular dividing Texas into 50 numbered districts (later called subdistricts); the number of these field offices was expanded to the maximum of 59 by August 1867.

Before this time, the activities of the Bureau had centered in the southeastern part of the state, but the numbered subdistricts represented an effort to distribute personnel and resources systematically throughout Texas. Each subdistrict was headed by a subassistant commissioner, some of whom had assistant subassistant commissioners as subordinates. The subassistant commissioners and their assistants were generally military officers or former military officers. At the outset of Bureau operations in Texas a number of Civil War Volunteer officers were utilized to fill the subordinate positions and were continued in office after they were mustered out of service. Other civilians, including citizens of Texas, also served in the subdistricts.

GENERAL RECORDKEEPING PRACTICES

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with his superior, Commissioner Howard, in the Washington Bureau headquarters, and with his subordinate officers in the field. Reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers provided the basis for reports to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in Texas. The Assistant Commissioner also corresponded with Bureau officials in other states, Army officers attached to the military commands in Texas, state officials and white citizens, and freedmen and other non–Bureau personnel. The letters varied in nature from complaints and reports of conditions to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the Assistant Adjutant General (or Acting Assistant Adjutant General) handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, outgoing letters often bore his signature and incoming communications were frequently addressed to him instead of the Assistant Commissioner.

The correspondence of the Assistant Commissioner was handled in accordance with typical 19th–century recordkeeping 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. The replies, known as endorsements, were then copied into endorsement books, and the endorsed letter was returned to the sender or forwarded to another office. Endorsement books usually included a summary of the incoming letter and sometimes previous endorsements that were recorded on it. Incoming correspondence was frequently entered in registers of letters received. In addition to a summary of the contents of the incoming letters, the registers usually included such identifying information as the name and sometimes the office of the writer, the date of receipt, the date of the communication, the place of origin, and the entry number assigned at the time of receipt. The registered letters were folded for filing, generally in three segments, and the information recorded in the registers was transcribed on the outside flap of the letters.

The letters and endorsements sent, registers of letters received, and registered letters received, which are reproduced in this publication, are cross–referenced to each other by the use of various symbols. Letters sent are designated L. S. or L. B. followed by the page and sometimes the volume number. Endorsement books are variously designated E. B., E. M. B., E. & M., and E. & M. B. Registers of letters received are referenced as L. R. or R. L. R. followed by the appropriate file number and sometimes the volume number, or simply by the file number. Frequently the letter itself can be located among the series of registered letters received. Letters sent and endorsements are also cross–referenced to the previous and subsequent entries in their respective series by the use of a fractional symbol. The numerator denotes the previous letter to or endorsement by a particular individual and the denominator refers to the subsequent one. The symbols generally appear in the left margins of the pages, but sometimes within the space allotted for the entry.

The Assistant Commissioner utilized various types of issuances to convey information to staff and subordinate officers. General orders and circulars or circular letters related matters of general interest, including the implementation of Bureau policies throughout the state, duties of subordinate personnel, administrative procedures to be followed, relevant acts of Congress or issuances from Bureau headquarters in Washington, 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 field officers.

The letters sent, endorsements, registers of letters received, and issuances all have name indexes in the front of the volumes. These finding aids provide references mainly to personal names but also include a few other citations to places, groups, and titles of organizations.

The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. Originally no numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes; later all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office of the War Department after the records passed into its custody. In this microfilm publication the set of numbers last assigned are in parentheses and are useful as an aid in identifying the volumes. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are a number of blank numbered pages that 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.M821
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas 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-m821
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Extent:
44 Reels
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Reels
Date:
1865–1870
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 44 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M869. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Assistant Commissioner for the state of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–70. A few of the records are dated as early as 1863. The records consist of 38 volumes and approximately 30 cubic feet of unbound records. The volumes include letters and endorsements sent, registers of letters received, and orders issued. The unbound records consist mainly of reports, letters received, and applications for restoration of property. The documents were primarily created or received by the Assistant Commissioner and his assistant adjutants. A few of the documents were created or received by Capt. Alexander P. Ketchum, one of Commissioner Oliver Otis Howard's staff officers, who was sent to South Carolina to mediate a dispute over restoration of abandoned land on the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M869.]

The Freedmen's Bureau, as the Bureau was commonly known, was established in the War Department by an act of March 39 1865 (13 Stat. 507). Congress assigned to the Bureau responsibilities that previously had been shared by military commanders and by agents of the Treasury Department. The duties included supervision of all affairs relating to refugees, to freedmen, and to the custody of abandoned property.

Under the provisions of the initial legislation, the Bureau was to have been terminated 1 year after the close of the Civil War. It was twice extended by laws of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). Its functions were limited to education and assistance in the collection of claims by an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), effective January 1869. Remaining Bureau functions were terminated following the discontinuance of the Bureau in 1872, in accordance with a law of June 10 of that year (17 Stat. 366).

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 and property, Bureau officers issued rations, clothing, and medicine to destitute refugees and freedmen; established hospitals and dispensaries; cooperated with benevolent societies in establishing schools; listened to complaints of the freedmen; witnessed the writing of labor contracts; and helped black soldiers and sailors to file and collect claims for bounties, pensions, and pay arrearages.

In May 1865 Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard was appointed Commissioner of the Bureau and established his headquarters at Washington, D. C. Assistant commissioners were appointed to supervise the work of the Bureau in the States, but because the number of assistant commissioners was limited to 10 by an act of Congress, some officers were assigned to duty in more than one State.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. Rufus Saxton, who had directed the "Port Royal Experiment," was appointed Assistant Commissioner for South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.1 Shortly after Saxton assumed his new duties, Howard appointed Assistant Commissioners for Georgia and Florida. Thus, by September 1865, Saxton was, for all practical purposes, Assistant Commissioner solely for South Carolina. Generally, the records pertaining to Georgia and Florida among those of the Assistant Commissioner of South Carolina were created during this early period.

The organization of the Bureau in South Carolina was similar to that of the Bureau headquarters at Washington, D. C. Saxton's original staff included an Assistant Adjutant General, an Inspector General, a Superintendent of Education, an Assistant Quartermaster, a Chief Commissary of Subsistence, and an aide–de–camp.

Officers subordinate to Saxton were responsible for administering the policies of the Bureau in the subdistricts of South Carolina. These subdistricts, as they finally evolved in February 1867, were: Anderson, Beaufort, Columbia, Charleston, Lynn, Darlington, Edisto, Greenville, Georgetown, Hilton Head, South Carolina side of the Savannah River, Unionville, and Williamsburg. The subdistricts were administered by officers titled subassistant commissioners.2 Officers or civilians serving under subassistant commissioners were called agents.

During the period of the Bureau's existence in South Carolina, there were three Assistant Commissioners operating from three different cities. Gen. Rufus Saxton established his headquarters at Beaufort, but in September 1865 he moved his headquarters to Charleston. Bvt. Maj. Gen. Robert K. Scott succeeded Saxton in January 1866 and carried out the duties of Assistant Commissioner until July 1868 when he resigned to become Governor of South Carolina. Just before Scott resigned, the headquarters was moved to Columbia. Assuming the position of Assistant Commissioner in August 1868, Bvt. Col. John R. Edie served until May 1869. Bvt. Maj. Horace Neide, Superintendent of Education, acted as Assistant Commissioner until May 31, 1869, when the office was abolished in South Carolina.

Neide and his successor, Bvt. Maj. Edward L. Deane, served as Superintendent of Education until June 1870 when that office was discontinued. Many of the series of records begun by Assistant Commissioners were continued by Superintendents of Education; thus, some records created by Superintendents of Education will be found with those of Assistant Commissioners. The Bureau functioned in South Carolina until June 1872, but its activity after June 1870 was mainly in the area of claims. These claims records are among the Provisions and Claims Divisions records and have not been reproduced on this microfilm publication. They are part of the records of the South Carolina Freedmen's Bureau.

When the Freedmen's Bureau was abolished, its records were sent to the Office of the Adjutant General. Clerks in the Adjutant General's Office numbered the volumes or book records and prepared "Indexes" or lists of these books. In this microfilm publication the number assigned to the volume by the clerks in the Adjutant General's Office appears in parenthesis. This number is useful only as a more precise method of identifying the volume.

ENDNOTES

1 The "Port Royal Experiment," originally launched by the Treasury Department in March 1862, was to provide work and education for blacks on the sea islands of Georgia and South Carolina. In the summer of 1862 the experiment was transferred to the War Department, and Gen. Rufus Saxton was placed in command. Under Saxton the amount of land administered was greatly increased in 1865. When the Bureau was established the experiment was placed under the Bureau's control, and Saxton was retained, with authority over the three States.

2 One of the subassistant commissioners, John William DeForrest, wrote an account of his experiences. See John W. DeForrest, A Union Officer in the Reconstruction, ed. by James H. Croushore and David M. Potter (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948).
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.M869
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m869
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Georgia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Extent:
28 Reels
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Reels
Date:
1865–1870
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 28 rolls of microfilm described in NARA publication M799. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Georgia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–70. The records consist of 14 volumes of letters sent, registers, and accounting records, and unbound letters and reports received.
Biographical / Historical:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M799.]

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 that had been previously shared by the military commanders and by the agents of the Treasury Department. The duties included supervision of all affairs relating to refugees, to freedmen, and to the custody of abandoned lands and property.

In May 1865, Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard was appointed as Commissioner of the Bureau and established his headquarters in Washington, D. C. Assistant Commissioners were appointed to supervise the work of the Bureau in the States, but because the number of Assistant Commissioners was limited to 10 by the act of Congress, some officers were assigned to duty in more than one State.

The Assistant Commissioner assigned to both Georgia and South Carolina was Maj. Gen. Rufus Saxton, who established his headquarters in Beaufort, S. C., in June 1865. He assigned to Brig. Gen. Edward A. Wild the responsibility for the Bureau affairs in part of Georgia. In September 1865, after General Wild was relieved from duty, the Office of Assistant Commissioner for Georgia was established, and Brig. Gen. Davis Tillson was appointed as Acting Assistant Commissioner, with exclusive control of all matters concerning the Bureau in Georgia. General Tillson reported to General Saxton in South Carolina until December 1865, when he was ordered to report thereafter directly to Commissioner Howard in Washington.

The organization of the Bureau in Georgia was similar to that of the Bureau headquarters in Washington. The staff of the Assistant Commissioner included an Assistant Adjutant General, an Assistant Inspector General, a Chief Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer, a Superintendent of Education, and a Surgeon in Chief. Officers subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner carried out the policies of the Bureau in the subdistricts into which the State was divided.

In the summer of 1865 Commissioner Howard ordered the Assistant Commissioners to designate a superintendent of schools for each State. Consequently, in October 1865 General Saxton appointed G. L. Eberhart as Superintendent of Schools for Georgia and ordered him to report to General Tillson.

The Superintendent of Schools (later called Education) was responsible for executing Bureau policies relating to the education of freedmen. The Bureau promoted the establishment of schools for freedmen by offering advice, protection, and financial assistance to local citizens interested in starting schools. The Superintendent frequently acted as an intermediary between freedmen and members of the benevolent societies that offered to provide teachers and aid for the schools. The Superintendent corresponded with State and local authorities, with teachers, and with Bureau officers stationed in the subdistricts. He collected information about the schools and about the attitudes of the white populace toward the education of the freedman and reported his findings to the Bureau headquarters in Washington.

Changes occurred in both the personnel and the administrative organization of the Office of the Superintendent of Education. Superintendent Eberhart and Edward A. Ware, who succeeded him in August 1867, were members of the staff of the Assistant Commissioner. In January 1869 Commissioner Howard ordered the Assistant Commissioner, Maj. John R. Lewis, to also assume the duties of Superintendent of Education. Although Major Lewis served in both capacities until May 1869, when the Office of the Assistant Commissioner was discontinued, he did not combine the records of the two offices. He was relieved of his duties as Superintendent of Education in May 1870. Ware, who had been acting as Assistant Superintendent, remained in Georgia as Acting Superintendent until August 1870, when all Bureau officers except the claims agents were withdrawn from the State.

The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder in numerical sequence. Originally, no numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes, but later all the volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers. In this 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
Education  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.M799
See more items in:
Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Georgia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m799
Additional Online Media:

Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Extent:
8 Reels
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Reels
Date:
1865–1870
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 8 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M810. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–70. The bound records include four volumes of letters and endorsements sent, a register of letters received, and a miscellaneous account book. The unbound records include letters and issuances received, reports issued and received, and miscellaneous papers.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M810.]

The Freedmen's Bureau, as the Bureau was commonly known, was established was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, l865 (13 Stat. 507), and extended twice by the acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83) Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard was appointed Commissioner by the President in May 1865 and he served in that position until June 30, 1872, when the 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. The Bureau cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to destitute persons and in maintaining freedmen's schools. Bureau officials supervised labor contracts between Negro employees and white employers; helped Negro soldiers and sailors to collect bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and other property.

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 States. Brig. Gen. Wager Swayne was appointed Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama. 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.

Bureau educational activity in Alabama officially began with the appointment of Rev. Charles W Buckley as Bureau Inspector and Superintendent of Schools in October 1865. Buckley was succeeded by Henry M. Bush, who served as Acting Superintendent from January 1868 until the appointment of R. D. Harper in March of the same year Harper served during 1368 but because he was frequently away on leave, Bush was authorized by Assistant Commissioner Oliver L. Shepherd to administer the office in Harper's absence. In January 1869, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Bureau operations in Alabama, as in other States, were terminated except for the educational functions and the collection of claims. Edwin Beecher, formerly Assistant Commissioner, became Superintendent of Education at that time and served in that capacity until July 1870 when the remaining Bureau activities in Alabama were also terminated.

Heading the Bureau's educational system was the Superintendent of Education who served under the Assistant Commissioner as a Staff Officer. Subordinate to both the Assistant Commissioner and the Superintendent of Education were the assistant superintendents, later called subassistant commissioners, who commanded the subdistricts into which the State was divided. Some of the more important subdistricts included those with headquarters at Demopolis, Eufaula, Greenville, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Opelika, Selma, Talladega, and Tuscaloosa. A subassistant commissioner supervised all Bureau activities in his area, including education, and reported on educational matters to both the Superintendent of Education and the Assistant Commissioner. After January 1869, when the function of the Bureau became almost entirely educational, subassistant commissioners became local superintendents of education. Each teacher reported to the subassistant commissioner of his subdistrict.

The schools maintained by the Bureau in Alabama included day schools for children, night schools for adults, and Sabbath schools. Rudimentary education including reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography received primary emphasis in most Bureau schools. Teachers were recruited from the local white population, from among the freedmen themselves, and from the North by the freedmen's aid societies. No single policy of assigning responsibilities in the maintenance of the schools was followed consistently. The Bureau generally supplied buildings for schools and transportation for teachers and relied on the aid societies and freedmen to pay for textbooks and teachers' salaries, although at times teachers were paid from Bureau funds. The Superintendent of Education reported to and corresponded with the Assistant Commissioner and with superiors in the Bureau's Washington headquarters. In addition he corresponded with and received reports from subordinate officers and teachers in the subdistricts. The Superintendent also corresponded extensively with aid societies regarding their contributions to the educational effort in the State.

When Assistant Commissioner Beecher became Superintendent of Education in 1869 he failed to separate completely the records of the new office from those of the old. Consequently, some of his reports and letters sent and a few endorsements and issuances created in his capacity as Superintendent of Education are among the records of the Assistant Commissioner. The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally unnumbered. Later they were arbitrarily assigned numbers, which are shown in parentheses and which serve as an aid in identifying the volumes. Black numbered pages in the volumes 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
Education  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.M810
See more items in:
Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m810
Additional Online Media:

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