Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History

Source Information

Freedmen's Bureau Illegal Apprenticeship Complaints

Apprentices and Indentures • 47 Records • Uploaded July 28, 2022

In 1864 Maryland ratified their constitution to free all enslaved people in the state. While apprenticeships had long been a practice in the region, formerly enslaved children and the children of former slaves were bound in apprenticeship agreements that were drafted with little protections for the apprentices. In March of 1865 the War Department established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau. On the Delmarva peninsula, one of the main undertakings of the Freedmen's Bureau's was to help Black parents retrieve their children from illegal apprenticeship arrangements. The illegal apprenticeship system began to end in 1867 when Chief Justice Chase ruled In Re Turner, in favor of Elizabeth Turner, a young woman apprenticed just days after Maryland’s 1864 emancipation, using the 13th Amendment and the 1866 Civil Rights Act in his arguments to prove that apprenticeships were unconstitutional. This ledger is a compilation of illegal apprenticeship complaints received by the Freedmen's Bureau relating to cases on the Delmarva peninsula. Complete records of the cases can be found in the records of the Freedmen's Bureau.

View Records

Fields Included

The list below shows the data fields included in this source. If a field is marked as Indexed, it is searchable.

  • State
  • Parent/Relative County Indexed
  • Parent Locale Indexed
  • Parent Name Indexed
  • Number of Children Taken
  • Name of Children Taken Indexed
  • Relationship
  • Captor Name Indexed
  • Captor County Indexed
  • Captor Locale Indexed
  • Settled? Indexed
  • Agent Name
  • Notes Indexed
Download Original Dataset