national arhives

Sealing The Sacred Bonds Of Holy Matrimony
Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records- National Archives

Scattered among the aging volumes and paper files of the Freedmen’s Bureau at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., are an impressive number of marriage licenses, certificates, registers, and reports documenting the federal government’s efforts to aid in the legalization of marriages of former slave couples.

While there are other valued federal, state, private, and published sources that help document ex-slave marriages, the Freedmen’s Bureau’s marriage records are arguably some of the most important records available for the study of black family marital relations before and after the Civil War. For the increasing number of African American genealogists and family historians, this unique body of marriage records may hold the only formal proof of a slave ancestor’s marriage.

Many cases of polygamy surfaced after the war when freedmen located their spouses. Slaves frequently remarried after their spouses had been sold. Many polygamous relationships arose from attempts of freedmen to care for the two or more wives and families whom they had been reunited after the war

http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/freedman-marriage-recs.html

http://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans/freedmens-bureau/