Source:Registers of Depositors in Branches of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust, 1865-1874

Source Registers of Depositors in Branches of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust, 1865-1874
Author Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau)
Year range 1865 - 1874
Publication information
Type Government / Church records
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau). Registers of Depositors in Branches of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust, 1865-1874.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)Other

Registers of Depositors in Branches of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust, 1865-1874 (NARA Micropublication M816, 27 Rolls)

Among the most underused bodies of federal records useful for African American genealogical research are the records of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. Chartered by Congress in early 1865 for the benefit of ex-slaves, the surviving records relating to the bank and its collapse are a rich source of documentation about the African American family.

In an effort to protect the interests of depositors and their heirs in the event of a depositor's death, the branches of what is generally referred to as the Freedman's Bank collected a substantial amount of detailed information about each depositor and his or her family. The data found in the files provide researchers with a rare opportunity to document the black family for the period immediately following the Civil War.

Microfilmed Records

The surviving records of twenty-nine branches of the Freedman's Bank are reproduced on National Archives Microfilm Publication M816, Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874. This publication reproduces fifty-five volumes of signatures of and personal identification data about thousands of depositors who maintained accounts with the bank.

While the amount of information collected by each branch varied, the records generally show the name of the depositor; account number; age; complexion; date of application; place of birth; place raised; occupation; spouse; children; names of parents, brothers, and sisters; remarks; and signature. Some of the earlier volumes contain the names of former owners or mistresses and the plantations where depositors resided. Some entries include copies of death certificates.

The signatures of depositors are arranged alphabetically by name of the state, thereunder by name of the city in which the branch was located, thereunder by date when the account was established, and thereunder by account number.

Researchers, however, should proceed with caution when using the indexes. More than one index exists for some bank offices, and some indexes are not arranged in strict alphabetical order. It is therefore necessary to examine every name under the letter of the alphabet beginning the surname.

Some indexes do not list all depositors whose surnames appear in the registers of signatures; many account numbers are missing; and in some instances account numbers assigned to depositors in the index are different from those in the signature cards. In such cases, it is necessary to search entire rolls of signature cards for bank offices where an ancestor resided. If there were no bank offices in the state and city where an ancestor lived, researchers should search for information about ancestors in the records of branch offices in neighboring states and cities.

Repositories and Access

The Freedman's Bank records are a part of Record Group 101, Records of the Comptroller of the Currency. Because of the bank's close association with the Freedmen's Bureau, researchers often confuse these records with those of the bureau, which is a separate body of records, Record Group 105. The microfilm collection of the Freedman's Bank records are available in the National Archives buildings in Washington, D.C., and College Park, Maryland.

The unfilmed records are available only at College Park. Send written inquires regarding these records to the Textual Reference Branch, National Archives at College Park, MD 20740-6001. Some of the regional records services facilities may also have copies of the microfilmed records; however, researchers should contact the nearest region for information concerning their availability.

The text in this article was copied from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website and may be viewed in its original context by clicking on this link: [1]