Category Archives: Freedman’s records

June 16-18 – Freedman’s and genealogy event in Atlanta

Freedman's Bank genealogical records history Atlanta eventThe Celebration of Juneteenth is coming to the Atlanta area June 16, including a look at the Freedman’s Bank records on African-American genealogy:

Atlanta Daily World writes:

On Saturday at 2 p.m., “Tracing History with Emma Davis Hamilton” will take place in McElreath Hall, Member’s Room. Hamilton, past president of the Metro Atlanta chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), will lead a detailed 90-minute session designed to help participants work with the important records of Freedman’s Savings Bank. This Washington, D.C., institution was created after the Civil War, to assist newly emancipated enslaved and African-American soldiers. Its records contain valuable genealogical information such as birthdate, birthplace, where raised, former owner, employer, occupation, residence, and relatives. The bank not only provided services for African Americans, but white citizens as well. Hamilton has 26 years’ experience as a genealogy researcher.

Fed celebrates Freedman’s at 150

Don’t miss the rich history of Freedman’s Bank, now on display at the Federal Reserve….

including original artwork and passbooks, from some of the bank’s original $57 million in deposits.

Although the bank failed through poor government regulatory policy and mismanagement leading into the Panic of 1873, its mission was a noble one, and still timely given economic conditions today.

The exhibit, marking the 150th anniversary of Freedmans, will also travel to Atlanta and Cleveland later this year.

Vast Freedman’s collection released

Acting in cooperation with the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution, Family Search International, is releasing an estimated 1.5 million images that contain the names of more than 4 million African-American slaves eventually freed at the end of the Civil War.

The materials were originally collected by the Freedman’s Bureau, organized to help former slaves in 15 states and the District of Columbia after the end of the war.

“African Americans who tried to research their family history before 1870 hit a brick wall because before 1870 their ancestors who were slaves and showed up as tics or hash marks on paper,” said Paul Nauta, spokesman for FamilySearch. “They didn’t have a name. The slave master would just have tick marks.”

The release italicizes the impressive support given to the cause of family and community development by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which FamilySearch is a subsidiary.

More details from a recent report in The Washington Post.

Black families recapture their history


Tracing Family History Gets Easier for Descendants of American Slaves,” the Voice of America reports:–80791547/162630.html

This is one of many benefits from the Freedman’s Renaissance that began circa 1998, and continues today.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as Mormons, meticulously transcribed and then indexed thousands of Freedman’s Bank microfilm records onto a single compact disc,” VOA reports. “More than 500 inmates at Utah State Prison did much of the painstaking work on their own time, not as assigned prison labor.”

Here’s an example of one record on the disc:

“Amanda Harris, brought up – Atlanta, Georgia. No age given. Complexion – yellow. Occupation – ‘at home.’ Husband – Thomas. Children – Rosa, Bell, Robert, Carol (dead), three died young. Was carried to Atlanta as a child. Taken from her mother by the traders. Was too small to know any of her relatives.”

Indeed, it was the Freedman’s Bureau, in the years after the Civil War, that helped many former slaves, previously barred from formalizing their union, to gain marriage certificates like the one above.