Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2014

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Wendy Hamand Venet

Second Advisor

Charles Steffen


Following the American Civil War, the United States government created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands to transition people living in the South to new laws and regulations placed on them after the defeat of the Confederacy. Known pejoratively as the Freedmen’s Bureau, this agency of federal intervention has been criticized as a failure. This thesis is a case study of the Freedmen’s Bureau office at Marietta, Georgia and shows that the criticisms heaped upon the national agency should not be attributed to each individual office. Many factors are considered in this analysis including the efficacy of the sub-assistant commissioner, the post-war devastation of the community and support of the agency from local community. The findings for Marietta are examined by cross-referencing the findings against the Freedmen’s Bureau at Cartersville, Georgia. The finding of the paper is that while the Freedmen’s Bureau was a national failure this was not the case in every locale throughout the former Confederacy.