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In 1865, the West Virginia Adjutant General released a list of colored men mustered into the service of the United States from the state of West Virginia.  Of the 220 or more black soldiers assigned to West Virginia, 177 of them have yet to claim their medals, that honor their service to the state of West Virginia.  The West Virginia State Archives is aggressively pursuing the living descendants of each of these men.  The state issued no confederate medals. 

If you have a known ancestor who served in a regiment from West Virginia during the civil war you can research a potential claim for one by visiting the West Virginia State Archives and viewing the list.

*Tip:  Post this list to your church Bulletin Board, encourage those within your congregation to research their genealogy to see if they descend from one of these brave men.

National Archives and Records Administration

Known officially as the Records of the Field Offices for the District of Columbia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1870 the Freedman’s Bureau was established by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865. 

The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to freedmen, including lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War.

Some of the Bureau’s early Field Office activities included:

  • Supervision of abandoned and confiscated property

  • Provide relief and help to freedmen

  • Issuing rations and clothing

  • Operating hospitals and refugee camps

  • Supervising Labor Contracts between former owners and Freed people


The Bureau also managed Domestic Disputes like:

  • Apprentice disputes

  • Freedmen Complaints


They also:

  • Assisted Benevolent societies

  • Assisted in the establishment of schools

  • Legalized marriages

  • Provided transportation to indigents

  • Helped black soldiers collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay


Records in this Record Group come in the form of:

  • Labor Contracts 

  • Letters

  • Applications for Rations 

  • Monthly Reports of Abandoned Land 

  • Monthly Reports of Clothing and Medicine Issued 

  • Statistical School Reports 

  • Trial Records 

  • Hospital Records 

  • Workers Complaints

For a full description of this specific National Archives and Records Administration Record Group you can go to the National Archives and Records Administration Information Leaflet at or immediately search transcribed portions of the collection online at

by Emily Anne Croom

Unpuzzling Your Past by Emily Anne Croom is a time-saving guide for genealogists that helps new and inexperienced researchers plan and organize their work effectively.  From talking with regular people to making individual discoveries in the public records, Croom helps make your research planning a breeze.  In the new edition of the guide, Emily Anne Croom has expanded chapters on public sources, included more courthouse records, highlighted federal government resources, and examined the impact of technology on the world of family history and genealogy online.  

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