Last Road to Freedom Documents Civil War Contraband Camps

Civil War contraband, circa 1862-1865, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,

Just discovered is this gem of a website dedicated to sharing the history of Civil War Contraband Camps.

Most Americans have never heard of Civil War contraband camps, and a lack of knowledge concerning the role the camps played in shaping the African American transition to freedom is unfortunate as it oversimplifies our understanding of emancipation–especially the active role blacks played in gaining their own freedom. Literally hundreds of thousands of the four million African Americans still enslaved in 1860–came into contact with Union army lines. While many blacks remained on farms in areas occupied by federal forces, many other blacks took flight.(1)

The story of Civil War Contraband Camps is shared through the Last Road to Freedom site which also includes lists of those who were part of the camps as abstracted from the National Archives and Records Administration’s Record Group 105, Freedman’s Bureau Records.  I’ve done research in these priceless records and can tell you that any index you can find on them will probably be the only one that exists because few are available.  This means the page by page method is all you can utilize to locate ancestors.  For an overview of the records, please visit this link.

(1) Last Road to Freedom site

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