The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedman’s Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865. The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War.
While the Bureau’s mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient, it also solemnized marriages that freedmen had entered into during slavery where the state or other local agencies made no provisions for such an act for persons of color.
This database contains Freedmen Bureau marriage records from 1861-1869. Record types include: marriage certificates, marriage licenses, monthly reports of marriages, and other proofs of marriage. Information available on these records may vary from state to state and between record types. However, the following is a list of the type of information that may be found among these records:
- Names of the bride and groom
- Ages of the bride and groom
- Date of marriage
- Where married
- By whom married
- Number of male and female children
- Color of bride and groom
- Complexion of parents
States represented in this collection are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
How to Search this Database:
This database is not searchable by name. However, images of the records may be browsed by using the browse table below. Records are arranged alphabetically by state in which the marriage was performed, followed by record type and/or alphabetical by surname of groom.
For Further Information:
Much of the above information was taken from: Publication Details of M1875: Marriage Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Washington Headquarters of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1861-1869. Washington, D.C.: United States Congress and National Archives and Records Administration, 2002.
For more information on the history of the Freedmen Bureau or for further details on the records contained in this database, please consult this publication.