Freedmen's Bureau

Exercising Citizenship

A pop-up exhibit that speaks to the promises of emancipation.

Exhibit at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation®

  • February - March, 2019

Free with Museum admission.

View Pricing

Bold action was necessary after the Civil War ended in 1865, and the U.S. government responded with a new agency designed to serve four million new citizens. While basic needs like food and lodging were most immediate, freed people also sought access to public services and influence over systems of government that other Americans enjoyed. The Freedmen’s Bureau, in operation for only seven years, supported millions who were eager to attain an education, enter into legal contracts and vote.

Learn more about the people and stories that shaped the Reconstruction era as you explore a special selection of artifacts from the collections of The Henry Ford at Freedmen’s Bureau — Exercising Citizenship. Consider the promises of emancipation, and find inspiration to continue the commitment of opening the American experiment to all.


Featured Artifacts:

  • Period illustrations of new citizens pursuing education and equality.
  • Historic images of Freedmen’s Bureau officials.
  • A handwritten muster roll documenting African-American soldiers’ service after the Civil War ended.
  • An official form used by the bureau to document wages promised by employers for work completed by freed people.



Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

    Member Non­member
Senior (62+) Free $27.00
General Admission (12-61) Free $30.00
Youth (5-11) Free $22.50
Children (4 & Under) Free Free

* Ticket prices are subject to change.