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Freedmen’s Bureau certificate for the Rent of a Schoolhouse for June 1865, Memphis, Tennessee

As Superintendent of Freedmen for West Tennessee, Captain T.A. Walker leased a schoolhouse in Memphis for the education of African Americans in June 1865. When standard school buildings were not available, the Freedmen’s Bureau rented church halls and private properties and converted other government buildings for use as classrooms.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Freedmen’s Bureau certificate for the Rent of a Schoolhouse for June 1865, Memphis, Tennessee

Educating the Emancipated

In 1865, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, to provide for the needs of former slaves. Operating under the War Department, the Freedmen’s Bureau assisted with food, medical care, employment and education. To meet the tremendous demand among the newly emancipated for schools and instruction the Bureau found buildings suitable for classrooms and worked with other aid organizations to recruit teachers. By 1866, more than 100,000 African Americans throughout the South attended Freedmen’s Bureau schools.