[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M816.]
The Company was incorporated by an act of Congress approved March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 510), as a banking institution established in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, for the benefit of freed slaves. The military savings banks at Norfolk, VA, and Beaufort, SC, were transferred to the Company soon after it was founded. From 1865 through 1870 a total of 33 branches were established, including an office that was opened in New York, NY, in 1866.
In 1874 the Company failed and by the terms of an act of Congress approved June 20, 1874 (18 Stat. 132), the trustees were authorized to select, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, three commissioners to take charge of the effects of the Company and to report on its financial state to the Secretary of the Treasury. The arrangement was altered by an act of Congress approved February 21, 1881 (21 Stat. 327), whereby the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized and directed to appoint the Comptroller of the Currency to administer the affairs of the Company. The Comptroller was made commissioner ex officio and he submitted annual reports to Congress. The final report on the trust company was submitted in 1920.
The information contained in many of the registers is as follow: account number, name of depositor, date of entry, place born, place brought up, residence, age, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband, children, father, mother, brothers and sisters, remarks, and signature. The early books sometimes also contain the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. In many entries not all the requested data are given. Copies of death certificates have been pinned to some of the entries. In each case the certificate has been filmed immediately after the page that shows the registration of the person's signature.
The registers are arranged alphabetically by name of State. The entries are arranged alphabetically by name of city where the bank was located, there under chronologically by date when the account was established, and there under numerically by account number. Many numbers are missing, a few are out of numerical order, and in some cases blocks of numbers were not used. Many registers seem to be missing. The volume for Philadelphia, PA, dated January 7, 1870, to June 26, 1874 contains signatures of officers of societies.
Filmed after these introductory remarks is an index that gives the location and the date of organization of the branch. The first part also gives the account numbers and the numbers of the rolls of microfilm on which the registers are filmed. There are no account numbers or registers available for the branches listed in the second part.
The records reproduced in this microfilm publication are part of the records in the National Archives designated as Record Group 101, Records of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Closely related records in the same record group include indexes to deposit ledgers (42 vols.). The ledgers are arranged alphabetically by name of State, there under by name of city, and there under by name of depositor. As the indexes to the deposit ledgers include the depositor's account number they can serve as a finding aid to the registers of signatures reproduced in this microcopy, which is not indexed. Other related records include loan and real estate ledgers and journals, 1870–1916, arranged roughly in chronological order; inspectors' reports, minutes of meetings of committees and a journal of the board of trustees, 1865–1874; dividend payment records, 1882–1889, arranged alphabetically by name of city and there under by depositor's account number; and letters received by the commissioners of the Company and by the Comptroller of the Currency as ex officio commissioner, 1870–1914. Interspersed among their records are legal papers, canceled checks, payrolls, expense checks, and passbooks.
Other record groups containing related documents are Record Group 105, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freemen, and Abandoned Lands, and Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's–1917.
The records reproduced in this microcopy were prepared for filing by Lockwood Wright, who also wrote these introductory remarks and provided the other editorial material.