Highlights from the Gates Collection of African American History and Culture
The Freedmen’s Reporter
To help emancipated slaves transition from slavery to freedom, President Lincoln created the Freedmen's Bureau and assigned agents throughout the South. The Bureau sought to assist freed slaves, through legal oversight, in obtaining food, housing, education, health care, and employment contracts with private landowners.
The Freedmen's Reporter was an irregular publication of the Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, one of many secular and ecclesiastical organizations that worked alongside the federal Freedmen's Bureau to provide assistance to freed slaves of the South during and after the Civil War. The Commission placed a special emphasis on education for emancipated adult slaves and their children, seeking donations to establish schools and recruit teachers. As donations dropped off after the war, the Commission merged with the American Missionary Association in an effort to increase its influence. This publication from 1867 prints a list of donations received and reports on the general educational conditions and the results of the Commission’s efforts in the states where they worked, as well as calls for teachers to come work in their schools.
The poverty of the South, and its need of funds for other purposes, will greatly retard the building of schoolhouses, purchase of books, apparatus, and the employment of teachers for any system of instruction . . . On the other hand, the greedmen are in pressing immediate want of knowledge. They are suddenly admitted to citizenship, but must of necessity fail in the right use of this privilege unless made intelligent. Schools, therefore, for adults are the great reliance to meet the urgency of the present time.