Discover the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network

Black and white photo of crowd of African Americans in front of white building
Arlington, VA was home to a large Freedman community, pictured here.

Library of Congress

Reconstruction was a process that took place in communities throughout the nation. Many units of the national park system, as well as sites managed by state, local, and private entities preserve locations and stories that tell the story of this crucial transition from slavery to freedom in the aftermath of Civil War. You can learn how to become part of the Network on our Join the Network page.

To navigate this listing, either scroll to the state you are interested in, or select the state from the drop down menu below. Please contact the individual sites for information about planning your visit. For questions regarding the network, contact us.

Listing of Sites in the Network by State Navigation

Alabama

Arkansas

  • Fort Smith National Historic Site interprets the role of the US Courts in enforcing federal authority in Reconstruction era Arkansas and surrounding Indian territories. In addition, Fort Smith was home to a freedman community and hospital.

The District of Columbia

  • Frederick Douglass National Historic Site preserves and interprets the home of Frederick Douglass, and Douglass's role as a Reconstruction era champion for civil rights.
  • Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site interprets the life of Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was born during the Reconstruction era and became a champion for educational opportunities for formerly enslaved people and their descendants.
  • Ford's Theatre National Historic Site interprets the significance of Abraham Lincoln's assassination - a tragedy that reverberated throughout the Reconstruction era and changed the trajectory of government policies.
  • Civil War Defenses of Washington interprets the experiences of Civil War Washington. This includes experiences of the city's many contraband camps, and the Freedman communities around sites like Fort Stevens.

Florida

  • Dry Tortugas National Park preserves the site of Fort Jefferson, which served as a prison for Reconstruction era political prisoners - most notably Dr. Samuel Mudd. The fort remained as part of the garrison of the Deep South until 1874.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore preserves the sites of several coastal fortifications along the gulf coast, including Fort Pickens. These fortifications provided the military governance to create and support Freedman communities.
  • Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve includes Kingsley Plantation. This antebellum plantation includes original slave cabins, where enslaved people lived and worked before and after Emancipation, and the park interprets the struggles of freed people to acquire lands in Reconstruction era Florida.

Georgia

  • In 1865, formerly enslaved people moved into the old stockade at Andersonville National Historic Site. The American Missionary Association operated a Freedman's school in a prison hospital, and formerly enslaved people organized Emancipation Day services in 1869 in the cemetery. Shortly afterwards, the Ku Klux Klan attacked the freedman community and by the end of Reconstruction, the black community had been driven away by Jim Crow policies.
  • After the Civil War, tensions emerged between planters and formerly enslaved people over issues of land ownership and labor on Cumberland Island National Seashore. The freedmen erected a small church which still stands in the park today.
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument was captured by US forces in the Spring of 1862, an event which served as the impetus for General David Hunter to issue a series of orders formally emancipating the enslaved people of coastal Georgia and South Carolina. The fort was later garrisoned by United States Colored Troops in 1866.

Idaho

Kansas

  • Fort Larned National Historic Site was a projection of US jurisdiction in the Great Plains during Reconstruction, and was garrisoned at times by African America "Buffalo Soldiers."
  • Fort Scott National Historic Site served as a supply depot for US military forces in the west, and was a recruiting depot for African American soldiers. For much of the post Civil War period, the fort was home to an African American community and a Freedman school that counted George Washington Carver among its students.
  • Nicodemus National Historical Park preserves a Reconstruction era Freedman settlement on the Great Plains of Kansas. Formerly enslaved people, mostly from Kentucky, established the community as part of efforts to move west and escape anti-black violence of the Reconstruction era South.

Kentucky

  • Camp Nelson National Monument preserves the site of a major training facility for United States Colored Troops, as well as a contraband camp for formerly enslaved people.
  • During the Reconstruction era, many of the tour guides of what would become Mammoth Cave National Park were formerly enslaved people. These first "rangers" provide a glimpse into the issues of Reconstruction era labor opportunities.

Louisiana

  • Cane River Creole National Historical Park interprets the story of Freedmen that remained on the land as sharecroppers during Reconstruction, and the conflicts with former enslavers during the era.
  • Jean Pierre Fazande was a free man of color who owned the Chalmette Battlefield. After the Civil War, he divided the land and sold land to formerly enslaved people, making Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve a unique site to learn about land reforms during Reconstruction.

Maryland

  • Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park interprets the critical role that Harriet Tubman played in assisting people make the transition from slavery to freedom.
  • During the Reconstruction Era, Clara Barton's work with the Missing Soldiers Office took her into the Deep South, where at places like Andersonville she carried news of Emancipation. Clara Barton National Historic Site interprets her contributions to American society throughout the Reconstruction era.
  • Antietam National Battlefield interprets the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation as a crucial moment in the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Massachusetts

  • Boston African American National Historic Site interprets the story of Boston's African American community during the Reconstruction era - including the Shaw Memorial and the emancipationist memory of the Civil War.
  • One of most important job opportunities for formerly enslaved people and their descendants was military service. Bearing arms in defense of the nation was widely seen as a means to securing citizenship, and many of those arms were produced at Springfield Armory National Historic Site.

Mississippi

  • Natchez National Historical Park interprets a wide array of Reconstruction stories and resources, as Natchez was a hotbed of Reconstruction era activity and was home to Hiram Revels, the first African American elected to the United States Congress during Reconstruction.
  • The Corinth Interpretive Center, part of Shiloh National Military Park, preserves and interprets the site of a large contraband camp and Freedman community in northern Mississippi.
  • Like many battlefields and national cemeteries in the Deep South, Vicksburg National Military Park was home to a large Freedman community, and the city was garrisoned by United States Colored Troops during the early years of Reconstruction.

Missouri

  • Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site preserves the home of Ulysses S. Grant, who served as President of the United States for much of the Reconstruction era, and oversaw the passage and implementation of federal legislation designed to protect formerly enslaved people.

Montana

  • As American citizens moved west during Reconstruction, they often clashed with American Indian tribes. The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument interprets the role of western expansion during Reconstruction, and the battle affected the critical election of 1876.

Nebraska

  • Homestead National Monument interprets the massive rush of emigration and land redistribution that in occurred in response to the passage of federal legislation. During Reconstruction, many people, including African Americans, moved west to take advantage of land opportunities and to escape the tensions of Reconstruction violence and disputes back east.

New Hampshire

  • The Shaw Memorial was one of the most significant monuments erected during Reconstruction exploring the role of emancipation and black participation in the Civil War. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park interprets the process of developing this Reconstruction era monument and memory.

New York

  • Although most famous for her work before the Civil War, Harriet Tubman also worked to ensure that formerly enslaved people had opportunities after slavery. Harriet Tubman National Historical Park preserves Tubman's home, which was developed as a group home for formerly enslaved at the end of Reconstruction.
  • Women's Rights National Historical Park interprets the fight for women's suffrage and rights, key components of citizenship debates during the Reconstruction era.
  • Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site interprets the social and economic changes that occurred during the Reconstruction era as the nation began to industrialize.

North Carolina

Ohio

  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument tells the story of Charles Young, an African American man who rose to prominence during the Reconstruction era military.
  • James A. Garfield briefly served as President during the Reconstruction Era, and served in Congress as a key leader during the debates over the Ku Klux Klan Act and impeachment of Andrew Johnson. His Presidency and political life is interpreted at James A Garfield National Historic Site.

Pennsylvania

  • It was at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg National Military Park that President Lincoln expressed that the postwar world would see a "new birth of freedom." During the later years of the 1800s, African American visitors - including military veterans - visited the site the celebrate an emancipationist memory of the Civil War.

South Carolina

  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park interprets Civil War and Reconstruction era Charleston, including the story of Robert Smalls, early emancipation celebrations in the city, as well as Freedman activities at the close of the Civil War.
  • Established in 1870 by Bathsheba Benedict, Benedict College is located in Columbia, South Carolina. During Reconstruction it trained "teachers and preachers," but the curriclum eventually grew to include more traditional academic and trade professions.
  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site is primarily a site associated with the Revolutionary period a century before Reconstruction. However, the park actively preserves and interprets the experiences of Reconstruction era African Americans who remained around the city, as well as the experiences of the Gullah Geechee communities during this era.
  • Claflin University, established in Orangeburg in 1869, was the first college in the state of South Carolina to admit students without regard to race or religion.
  • Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Clinton College was founded towards the end of Reconstruction with the purpose of iradicating illiteracy, and it evolved into a teachers college.
  • During the Civil War, the floodplain and swamplands that make up Congaree National Park became a haven for people escaping enslavement, and became a Freedman community during the Reconstruction era.
  • South Carolina State University was initially established in 1896 as a land-grand institution to provide agricultural and mechanical traning to Black South Carolinians.
  • Reconstruction Era National Historical Park preserves and interprets sites throughout Beaufort County that are significant to the Reconstruction era. This park also manages the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network.
  • Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site preserves the Gist family plantation in Union, SC. The park interprets the experiences of formerly enslaved people after emancipation, including land and labor reforms, as well as Reconstruction era racial violence in the region.
  • Allen University, located in Cokesbury, SC, was established by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in 1870 with a "mission of developing an educated clergy in the face of repression and violent opposition during the Reconstruction Era in South Carolina."
  • Founded by Tuskegee graduate Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897, as Denmark Industrial School, Vorhees College was initially a high school for Black citizens in Denmark, South Carolina. Today, it is a four year college that seeks to blend the Reconstruction era educational visions of W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington.
  • The Mather School was established by Rachel Mather in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1868, and provided education to formerly enslaved women during Reconstruction. After a century of operation, the school closed, but the site today is home to the Technical College of the Lowcountry, Mather Campus.

Tennessee

  • After the Battles for Chattanooga, the city became a haven for escaping enslaved people and a large Freedman community emerged. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park interprets this story, and preserves a Reconstruction era home that was constructed shortly after the Civil War.
  • Andrew Johnson National Historic Site preserves the home of Andrew Johnson, who was President during the early years of Reconstruction.
  • After the Battle of Stones River, the area around Stones River National Battlefield and national cemetery became an African American community that thrived through the Reconstruction era, and the park actively interprets this story.

Texas

  • One of the economic opportunities available to African American men during Reconstruction was military service. For much of the era, Fort Davis National Historic Site was garrisoned by African American "buffalo soldiers."

Utah

Virginia

  • Petersburg National Battlefield interprets the role of United States Colored Troops in the destruction of slavery, but is also the site of Reconstruction era communities in and around the city.
  • After the Civil War, formerly enslaved people found job opportunities working to recover remains at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Courthouse National Military Park, and worked with the national cemetery.
  • The surrender of Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park helped marked the end of the Civil War, and began a nation-wide transition from slavery to freedom.
  • In 1863, the United States Army established a Freedman's Village at Arlington House. After the Civil War, this village was managed by the Freedman's Bureau, and later other government agencies. It closed in 1900, at the very end of the Reconstruction era.
  • Booker T. Washington National Monument preserves the farm where Booker T. Washington grew up and lived shortly after the Civil War. In 1865, a US soldier read the Emancipation Proclamation to Washington and other now formerly enslaved people. Washington went on to become an advocate for African American education throughout Reconstruction and beyond.
  • Ceder Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park preserves a plantation site, and interprets the experiences of African Americans there before, during, and after the Civil War.
  • Fortress Monroe National Monument preserves and interprets a wide array of Reconstruction era stories, including some of the earliest efforts to transition from slavery to freedom, a large Freedman community, and the imprisonment of Jefferson Davis during the early years of Reconstruction.
  • Maggie Walker National Historic Site interprets the African American experience of Reconstruction era Richmond.

Washington

West Virginia

  • During the Civil War, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was home to a large contraband camp, and after the war became a thriving Freedman community. The park includes Storer College, an educational institution for African Americans that was established during Reconstruction.

Wyoming

  • During Reconstruction, federal jurisdiction expanded in a variety of ways, including the birth of the national parks in 1872 when President Grant signed the legislation creating Yellowstone National Park.

Last updated: November 16, 2020