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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

Re: Lucinda White and her Children, Sally and Jane

Thank you for your thoughts and questions.

It was research on elusive correspondence like this that led me to write "Introduction to Correspondence of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands," available at the AfriGeneas Library:

Since Lucinda White's original letter has not emerged in the archive, I conducted my search in extracts and cryptic forwarding information recorded in Books of Registered Letters Received and Books of Endorsements Send and Received -- the method I describe in slides 35 through 45 of the guide.

The guide (like everything I write) is verbose and overly-long, but I have seen nothing else that explains the same subject.

I believe that Judge Sharman gave the children the surname "McDonald" on their indenture papers because it was very common for local officials in that part of GA to assume that freedpeople would adopt the surname of their LAST slave owner. This is evident from examples in marriage records and Superior Court case records. In these early days after Emancipation, some freedpeople used different surnames from those of their last slave owners apparently without any hassle from authorities, but other folks went along with official expectations -- for whatever reason. Then, a few years later some people changed their names, usually to their father's surname. This is why you see some Georgia surnames change between 1865 and the 1870 census; sometimes even later. Not a lot, but enough to see the name-choosing process in action.

The Georgia Freedmen's Bureau records are only on microfilm. I did the microfilm research on the headquarters records of the Assistant Commissioner in 1995 at the GA State Archives in Atlanta. I did follow-on research at NARA Wash DC, in the records of the Field Offices after they were microfilmed in 2003.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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