The years following the Civil War were tumultuous times in the South as people began to adjust to a new way of life. To assist in that effort, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands--commonly called the Freedmen's Bureau--began work in Arkansas in June of 1865. In Arkansas, the federal agency helped a population of approximately 110,000 newly-freed African Americans. According to records, seventy-nine local agents served in thirty-six places in Arkansas from 1865 to 1869. Offices were set up in places of significant black population, including Arkadelphia. Today, the original records of the Freedmen's Bureau's Arkansas offices are housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

For Arkansas in general and the Arkadelphia region in particular, the Freedmen's Bureau records on microfilm complement other local and regional primary source materials within the library's Archives and Special Collections holdings. When used together with the Arkadelphia City Council records, Clark County government records (tax and court), and the Southern Standard newspaper, a more complete picture of Reconstruction Era life and culture in the area can be discovered.