RG 103: Freedman’s Village and Reconstruction Collection, 1857-1996

Collection Number
RG 103
Freedman’s Village was founded in 1863 on the lands along Arlington Heights, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Originally a temporary camp for freedmen, it became a permanent community for freed slaves, first under the direction of the War and Treasury Departments, and later of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. In the 1880s the land became a military reservation, and the villagers had all moved to other parts of Arlington by 1900. Most of the land which made up the village is now contained in the area of the Arlington National Cemetery.
Scope and Content
Record Group 103 consists chiefly of copies and transcripts of materials collected by teacher Roberta (Bobbi) Schildt in the course of her research on Reconstruction and specifically Freedman’s Village, in Arlington, Virginia. She used the collections of the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the Freedom and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland, among other repositories. A smaller portion of the collection consists of copies of newspaper clippings collected by Dusty Horowitt, her former student, during his research on the integration of Arlington schools in the 1950s and 1960s.

The collection measures approximately 2.5 linear feet and contains photocopies and transcripts of documents, and copies of graphics and maps, originally from 1857-1900. More recent notes, publications, and copies of articles date from 1930-1996. The donation included nineteen books, which have been removed from the collection (see list in File 103-1-37).

Ms. Schildt, a teacher in the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, worked with her seventh grade students to produce the 1984 book (and 1992 reprint), Freedman’s Village: Arlington, Virginia, 1863-1900.

In 1992, Ms. Schildt received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant to study the Reconstruction era with Dr. Ira Berlin at the University of Maryland. In 1996 she produced a teachers’ resource book to be used with the exhibit, “America’s Reconstruction,” held at the Virginia Historical Society in 1996.
Arrangement and Description
Record Group 103 is divided into three series. Series 1 contains Freedman’s Village materials. Series 2 concerns the “America’s Reconstruction” exhibit held in 1996 at the Virginia Historical Society. Series 3 contains copies of articles and some exhibit posters concerning integration in Arlington.
Roberta (Bobbi) Schildt donated the collection to the Library in 2000.
There are no research restrictions on Record Group 103.
Related Collections
Other records related to H-B Woodlawn are in RG 370, H-B Woodlawn Collection. There are also several collections on Black history in Arlington, such as RG 11, Edmond C. Fleet Collection, RG 328, Lomax AME Zion Church Records, RG 307, Papers of George Richardson, and RG 349, Dorothea Hamm Papers, amongst others.