Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rare 1868 Census Document from Choctaw Nation Found

The Western History Collection at the University of Oklahoma contains much useful data on Indian Territory. While looking at many of their digitized images, an unusual census record caught my attention. This was one of a census record taken in Cedar County, reflecting the population in 1868.  This is rare, particularly as it reflects a Choctaw community during the Reconstruction era.    I am sharing the few pages of that 1868 census here, for all researchers.

The Source of data comes from the Native American Manuscript Collection.  It was found in the Choctaw Nation Papers . Within that collection, in Box 49 Folder Number 9 this census tabulation can be found.  The document is approximately 19 pages long and the last two pages reflect the Choctaw Freedmen and the 1 white family enumerated as well.

A look at the first page reveals how detailed the information was that was collected of those considered to be fully Indian:

Page 1

Information collected on males was detailed breaking down data on the age categories of each male:

Male Heading on 1868 Census Form

Information collected on females was less detailed:

Female Heading on 1868 Census Form

Data collected on the Freedmen--their former slaves were the least detailed:
Heading Found on Freedman Page of 1868 Census Form 

Since the 1868 Freedman page was small and only consisted of 1 full page it is shown in its entirety here.

1868 Cedar County Census - Choctaw Freedmen

The value of Freedmen was clearly reflected in the manner in which data was collected. Age categories did not matter and both genders were grouped together. In addition, many of these former slaves were not listed with surnames. This was a mere two years out of slavery. (Remember slavery was not abolished in Indian Territory until 1866, not 1865.) Quite possibly these former slaves were still being addressed with single names, and possibly some had not begun to use surnames. However this list does represent one of the very first times that the names former Choctaw slaves were written down in family groups---not as property but as adults with families. Though small, this could possibly  be the earliest listing of Choctaw slaves known to exist

There was a small page reflecting a white family also on the same document:

Like the Choctaw families more data was included on the males and females 
than were collected on the former Choctaw slaves.

All documents and all pages can be found on the site of the Native American Manuscript Collection and the Choctaw Nation Papers, at the University of Oklahoma.

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