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Whispers from the Dust. The Freedmen Records and African American Family History. Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey Douglas. The central question. “What shall be done with the slaves?” W.E.B. Du Bois, 1901, Atlantic Monthly. W.E.B. DuBois.

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whispers from the dust

Whispers from the Dust

The Freedmen Records and

African American Family History

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey Douglas

the central question
The central question

“What shall be done with the slaves?”

W.E.B. Du Bois, 1901, Atlantic Monthly

W.E.B. DuBois

what to do with the slaves during the war
”. . . all persons held as slaves within any State . . . in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”What to do with the slavesduring the war?

The Emancipation Proclamation

provided the moral and legal frame

Signed: January 1, 1863

Lincoln: "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper.”

what to do with the freedmen after the war
What to do with the freedmen after the war?
  • On March 3, 1865, Lincoln signed into law
    • The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Land
      • A public institution
    • The Freedman’s Savings & Trust Company
      • A private institution
the freedmen s bureau was directed to
The Freedmen’s Bureauwas directed to:

“set apart, for the use of loyal . . . freedmen, such tracts of land within the insurrectionary states as shall have been abandoned . . . and to every male citizen . . . there shall be assigned not more than forty acres of such land.”

trampled hopes
“An old woman on the outskirts of the throng began singing this song (‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’); all the mass joined with her, swaying. And the soldier wept.” -- Du Bois, The Souls of Black FolkTrampled hopes

General Howard sent the news to Sea Islands, Georgia.

One asked: “Why, General Howard, why do you take away our lands?”

two freedmen legacies
The Records

“This is the hope of the Freedmen records, to open a window, even if a small one, into that important transitional period that began with the end of slavery.”

Alex Haley, at a World conference on Family History

Two freedmen legacies

100 years of discrimination

hawkins wilson sought help from the bureau
“I have no other one to apply to but you.

“My name is Hawkins Wilson . . . Who was sold at Sheriff’s sale and used to belong to Jackson Talley

Hawkins WilsonSought help from the Bureau
benjamin manson and sarah white marriage certificate
Original Marriage Date: Oct, 28, 1843

Lists 9 of their 16 children

Official Marriage Date: April 19, 1866

Benjamin Manson and Sarah White marriage certificate
marrow deep
Marrow deep

"In all of us there is a hunger marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from.

“Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum. An emptiness. And the most disquieting loneliness.”

Alex Haley, at a World conference on Family History

Alex Haley