Internet Archive has digitized microfilms online for the District of Columbia Field Office, US Freedmen’s Bureau Records. The 45 digitized microfilm reels are linked below.
What is the Freedmen’s Bureau?
The Freedmen’s Bureau is short for the US Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, an agency set up by Congress, after the US Civil War, on March 3, 1865, to provide relief and assist newly freed slaves as they adjusted to their new freedoms and became self-sufficient.
The Freedmen’s Bureau has the largest collection of African American records and the government has partnered with other organizations to digitize, index, and provide searchable collections of these records.
Freedmen’s Bureau records contain all types of records for African Americans including, legalized marriage records, family reuniting and relocation records, ration records, hospitalization and medical records, labor contracts, apprenticeship records, school records, military bounty claims, pensions, back pay, and more.
What types of information can I find in these records?
Freedman’s name | Former slave’s name
Bounty Land inquiry
Military units person was a part of
Other records & requests
Agent filing the request
Office that received the request
Where else can I find Freedmen’s Bureau records online for free?
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has partnered with FamilySearch, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and the California African American Museum to extract names from US Freedmen’s Bureau records.
Before scanning these microfilmed images, page by page, you can first try a search at DiscoverFreedmen.org to see if the records you need have already been indexed (information extracted from browsable images such as these and turned into searchable text records). DiscoverFreedmen.org will take you to FamilySearch where you’ll be required to login with a free account. There is never a charge to use online records at FamilySearch and creating an account at FamilySearch is easy.
Here is some information if you have questions about why you need to create a FamilySearch account and any options you have if you don’t want to create an account.