African Americans of Alabama
This entry was originally written by Robert S. Davis and Mary Bess Paluzzi for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
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.