The following was posted on another list..thought it would be of interest.
Some time during the month of February, please stop by the case along
the east wall of the lobby to view the originals of two of the Library
of Virginia's important holdings from Local Records: a sheet from the
Register of Colored Persons of Prince Edward County, Virginia,
Cohabiting Together as Husband and Wife on February 27th, 1866, and the
partial Census Returns of the Colored Population of Arlington County,
1865, recently discovered in the back of a volume of Civil War-era
General Court Martial records.
A cohabitation register was the legal vehicle by which former slaves
legitimized both their marriages and their children. The information
about an individual person contained in the cohabitation register is
literally priceless as it is often the first time that a former slave
appeared officially in the public record and because of the extensive
information that the register recorded about each family.
The census returns cover an area of northern Virginia that included the
Freedmen's Village in Arlington on the lands of the former ancestral
home of Robert E. Lee. The Freedmen's Village was established in 1863
to accommodate the large numbers of former slaves who had flooded into
the Washington, D.C., area following the Emancipation Proclamation and a
census was taken there by the Freedmen's Bureau to aid bureau agents in
their duties such as finding employment, discouraging vagrancy, handing
out rations, and assisting people in returning to their former
residences if so desired.
These records are critical for anyone interested in the emergence of so
many African Americans from hundreds of years of slavery into the new
and hopeful period of early freedom. The Library of Virginia has
thirteen cohabitation registers in its collection from the counties of
Augusta, Culpeper, Floyd, Fluvanna, Goochland, Henry, Louisa, Lunenburg,
Prince Edward, Richmond, Roanoke, Surry, and Warren. There are four
colored population schedules in its collection from the localities of
Alexandria, Lynchburg, Rappahannock and Roanoke. Copies of these
records--or the originals if copies are not available--may be viewed in
the Library's reading rooms.
The documents are on display until February 29.
PS. The Surry VA Cohabitation List can also be found in the introduction to Dennis Hudgin's book Surry County Virginia Register of Free Negroes (VGS 1995). I do have a copy of that book if anyone needs a look up.