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Glossary of terms for Records of the Field Offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands

Land reports.
Statistical reports usually submitted on a printed form listing the abandoned or confiscated lands Bureau officers held. The reports usually give the name of the former owner; the county in which the property was located; the boundaries of the property; when and how the Bureau acquired the property; when and how the Bureau lost the property; whether the property was abandoned or confiscated; the total acreage of the property; the acreage under cultivation, cleared, or wooded; and the number and kinds of buildings on the property.

Operations reports.
Narrative reports of Bureau operations for a stated time period. These reports frequently give information about the economic and social conditions in the area in which the officer was stationed, the attitudes of the white populace toward the freedmen, and the quality of education offered the freedmen.

Personal reports.
Narrative accounts in which the officer reported where he was stationed, the nature of his duties, and the authority placing him at the station.

Reports of persons and articles hired.
Statistical forms used by the Quartermaster Department to account for persons hired or articles rented by Bureau officers. The reports show the name of the person or the article hired, the person’s occupation or the article’s use, the number of days employed or rented, the rate of compensation or rent, and the amount of pay or rent due.

Ration reports.
Reports of rations, clothing, and medicine issued. Statistical reports submitted on a printed form. The reports list the stations at which rations were issued to refugees and freedmen; the number of rations issued to men, women and children; the number of rations issued to dependents, to Federal Government employees, or to persons giving liens on their crops; the value of the rations issued; and the value of the medicine and quartermaster supplies issued. There are usually separate reports for refugees and for freedmen.

School reports.
Narrative or statistical reports about the number and kinds of schools available for freedmen. The most common statistical report is a printed form on which the reporting officer listed the names and locations of the schools in his area and the societies that sponsored the schools. The officer also indicated on the form whether the schools were night or day schools and whether the building was furnished by the Bureau or owned by freedmen. The reports give for each school the number of students of each sex, the race of the students, the number over 16 years of age, the students’ degree of literacy, and the number of students in geography, arithmetic, writing, needlework, and the "higher branches." The reports also indicate how many pupils had been free before the war, the amount of tuition the freedmen paid, and the expenses of the school the Bureau paid. At the bottom of the report the officer commented on public sentiment toward the black schools.

School reports from officers subordinate to the Assistant Commissioners also include a printed form consisting of 19 questions concerning such subjects as the number and locations of the schools, the number of visits of the officer to the schools, the establishment of new schools in the area, and the public sentiment toward education for black people. The report also asked how many educational meetings the officer had held during the month, what the Bureau could do for the education of the children of refugees, and how long the aid of northern charities would be needed. These reports are usually interfiled with the ration reports.

Among the school reports there are also two printed forms for reporting the number and kinds of school buildings. One report called for the names and locations of the schools, the materials with which the buildings were constructed, the dimensions of the buildings, the estimated value of the building, and the estimated value of the land on which the buildings were located. A second form required the listing of the teachers at the schools, the benevolent societies sponsoring the schools, and the number of pupils attending the school.

Reports of sick and wounded.
Printed forms showing the number of males and females under treatment at the reporting hospital or dispensary; the number of patients discharged or transferred during the week; and the number who died. The reports also show the number of beds available; the number of attendants on duty; and the total number of hospital employees under the charge of the Bureau.

Teachers’ reports.
Usually a printed form submitted by teachers of freedmen’s schools. The reports give information about the number of pupils at the school; the attendance habits of the pupils; and the hours of teaching. The teacher usually reported if he had received transportation from the Bureau; who owned the school building at which he taught; and who supported the school. He also commented on the public sentiment toward the black schools; if there were any Sabbath schools in the area not otherwise reported; and how many pupils were members of temperance societies.

Rosters of officers and civilians.
Forms showing the names and stations of the officers and civilians employed. The rosters usually give the rank of officers and the order number assigning then to duty. For civilians the rosters usually give the monthly salary and often the date of appointment. Rosters also often show the data of discharge or transfer.

Reports of changes of officers and civilians.
Reports listing the officers and civilians assigned to or discharged from the staffs of the Assistant Commissioner. The reports are similar to the rosters except that they list only those people assigned or appointed and discharged or relieved during the month, not the entire staff.

Reports of attendants employed by medical departments.
Forms listing attendants employed at hospitals and dispensaries. They give the names and occupation of attendants, the date of the contract, by whom the contract was made, the salary per month, and remarks indicating whether the attendant was discharged during month.

Morning reports of hospitals.
Forms showing the number of patients at last report, the number admitted since, the number deserted, the number died, and the number remaining in the hospital. The reports also often show the numbers of beds occupied and available at the hospital.

Returns of bureau or quartermaster property.
Forms listing the kinds and amount of Bureau or Quartermaster property in the possession of the reporting officer.

Accounts current.
Forms used to account for Bureau funds. Usually included are abstracts of receipts and expenditures, vouchers, and other related papers.

Receipt rolls of hired men.
Forms similar to a payroll. The receipt roll gives the names, occupations, periods of service, and rates of pay of individuals hired by the Bureau.