African Americans of Alabama

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This entry was originally written by Robert S. Davis and Mary Bess Paluzzi in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Alabama Family History Research series.
History of Alabama
Alabama Vital Records
Census Records for Alabama
Background Sources for Alabama
Alabama Maps
Alabama Land Records
Alabama Probate Records
Alabama Court Records
Alabama Tax Records
Alabama Cemetery Records
Alabama Church Records
Alabama Military Records
Alabama Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Alabama Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Alabama Immigration
African Americans of Alabama
Native Americans of Alabama
Alabama County Resources
Map of Alabama


Several distinct sources for researching African-American families in Alabama are available. As previously stated, separate slave censuses, listing slave owners only with demographic information on slaves were taken in 1850 and 1860, in addition to enumerations of slaves on earlier censuses. The records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (see page []) detail this bureau’s work to ease the problems faced by freedmen after the Civil War. Three microfilmed series are available from the National Archives: Records of the Alabama Field Offices, Bureau of Refugees, Abandoned Lands, and Freedmen, 1865–1870 (M1900, 34 reels); Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama, 1867–70 (M809, 23 reels); and Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Alabama, 1865–70 (M810, 8 reels). The genealogically rich surviving records of the Huntsville and Mobile branches of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, 1865–74, have been abstracted by the Genealogical Society of Utah and have been placed on CD-ROM computer disks.

A resource published by the Alabama Center for Higher Education, Collection and Evaluation Materials about Black Americans Program entitled Catalogue of the Records of Black Organizations in Alabama (Birmingham: Alabama Center for Higher Education, 1979) should be particularly helpful to researchers seeking access to records of African-American business, religious, civic, political, social, and educational organizations. Entries for 239 different organizations indicate briefly when the organization was founded, what records are available, and whom to contact for access to the records.

See also the brief discussion of free African Americans in Alabama Probate Records.

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