National Archive records donated by Frogmore Plantation

Published 11:28 pm Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dorothy Smith, Melissa Powell, and Buddy and Lynette Tanner, tour guides and archivists at Frogmore Plantation have purchased the Concordia Parish Freedman’s Bureau Records from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and donated them jointly to the Historic Natchez Foundation and Concordia Library so that black residents can better trace genealogy.

The documents recently released from the National Archives contain detailed records of plantation census, both human and agricultural, along with acreages, crop selections and livestock.

Additionally, fascinating letters written from Christian Rush, the federally appointed freedman’s bureau agent, detail the day-to-day lifestyles of the newly freed slaves and planters, which brings to light disputes, hardships, legalities, flood activity and educational opportunities from 1866–1868.

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“My father was a college history professor and did extensive research, but these records were then sealed and unavailable for viewing,” Melissa Powell said.

“During a trip to Washington, D.C., I discovered the records had recently been released,” Lynette Tanner said. “We at Frogmore wanted to make them available to everyone in our area.”

Powell said the records provide for a greater likelihood that locals could trace their ancestry.

“African American slave names are listed on many of the plantation records which, of course, were mostly owned at that time by families with Natchez town homes,” she said.

Other information, however, is disturbing as it pointedly discusses fair and unfair landowners alike.

“Anyone whose ancestors were in Adams County or Concordia Parish in the 1860s will find these records fascinating,” Lynette Tanner said.

The records will be housed at the Vidalia branch of the Concordia Parish Library allowing easy access for residents of the Miss-Lou.