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The Misses Cooke’s School Room, Freedman’s Bureau, Richmond, Virginia. Wood Engraving by James E. Taylor

Published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 17, 1866

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The Misses Cooke’s School Room, Freedman’s Bureau, Richmond, Virginia. Wood Engraving by James E. Taylor

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.