From Slavery to Uncertain Freedom


The Freedman’s Bureau in Arkansas 1865-1869
Randy Finley
978-1-55728-890-5 (paper)
Spring 1996


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As African Americans in Arkansas emerged from slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, it was the job o the Federal Freedmen’s Bureau to help them build bridges to freedom. The bureau supported former slaves as they assumed new names, searched for lost family members, moved to new homes, worked to provide for their families, learned to read and write, formed and attended their own churches, created their own histories and myths, and struggled to obtain land.

In this account of hte gains made by Arkansas freedman during this period, Randy Finley describes the ways that blacks, whites, and bureau officials undertook their foles in a new society and began to live the complex reality of freedom.

1996 Certificate of Commendation American Association for State and Local History

“An outstanding study of a state where the bureau had a profound impact on the mostly rural freedpeople.”
Journal of Southern History

“A solid contribution to an understanding of the Freedmen’s Bureau, Reconstruction, African American lives, and Arkansas.”