Sunday, January 10, 2021

Using Freedmen's Pension Bill to Uncover Slave Ancestor

National Archives

Ex-Slave Pension Correspondence and Case Files 1892 - 1922
In an effort to share overlooked research records that may assist in slave ancestry research, here is a small collection, but yet powerful, if your ancestor is named. The “Freedmen’s Pension Bill” was led by a Nebraska white newspaper editor but was championed by the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association (MRB&PA). It is often referred to as "the first mass reparations movement led by African Americans."

What was the Freedmen’s Pension Bill?”

The purpose was to obtain pensions for former slaves from the Federal government as compensation and reparations for unpaid labor and suffering. These records are held at the federal level in the Law Division, Bureau of Pensions, in Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs - Case Files Concerning Ex-Slaves (digitized) and M2110  but some digitized records  and add postings may be found on : Washington DC., Ex-Slave Pension Correspondence and Case Files,
1892 - 1922.
Information from Alabama to Colorado, etc. are represented in these case files.

Research Note: the effort did not yield the expected membership and was "shut down" by seemingly unsubstantiated fraud charges against leader Callie House. However, we often find that one town or county may have quite of few of his African American residents as members (i.e. Columbia, Boone County, MO).

Membership  Dues and Cards

Membership cost was just cents a month (ten cents to .twenty five depending on the year.. But for the genealogists, ex-slave ancestors name, age at time of membership, and place of residence. Often both husband and wife joined; carrying separate memberships which left genealogists with two membership applications, sometimes two case files.  

Learn More:

Note for SLIG participants: This topic was designed as supplement for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) Show Me Missouri:  Uniquely Missouri  - African American Research, presentation 13 Jan 2021. Keep checking back and follow blog, facebook page or linkedin to get updated postings (see below buttons). 

Be Historically Correct  

Kathleen Brandt

1 comment:

  1. A few months agao I came across a book about Callie House in a bookstore's remainder bin. A good read and a sad story for this women who was trying to help ex-slaves get reparations!