Freedmen's Bureau Records

A breakthrough for Black family history.

With over 3.5 million searchable records, the Freedmen’s Bureau collection can provide details of your African American ancestors’ lives before 1870—giving you a more complete picture of your past.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Headshot
What is the Freedmen's Bureau?

The U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau

Established in 1865 to help the nearly four million newly freedmen and women manage their transition from enslavement to citizenship, the Freedmen’s Bureau assisted with land and property, relief programs, medical care, and educational support—among many other important endeavors.

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with genealogist Nicka Sewell-Smith.

The records in this collection can reveal key details about your ancestors’ lives.


Freedmen's Bureau Records, 1865–1878

Explore the many types of records in this collection, such as employment registers, school and teacher reports, ration lists for clothing and medicine, and personal letters.

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Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Records, 1846–1867

Search through marriage certificates and licenses, which include details such as names and ages of the bride and groom, where they got married, and how many children they had.

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Freedman's Bank Records, 1865–1874

Established so the newly freed could place and save money, the Freedman’s Bank includes records with names of depositors, residences, birth places, and occupations.

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