A tribute to the Lydia Judah, teacher, Freedmen’s Bureau

While delving into the Freedmen’s Bureau records for a client, I came across the “Teacher’s Monthly School Report” for June of 1867 in Richmond, Virginia. The locations of the schools caught my eye: “16th st. near to creek,” “cor 3rd And Leigh,” and “All[e]y bet Clay & Marshall.” The roster named each teacher, sometimes a married couple, the date the school opened, the ethnicity of the teacher (most were “colored”), the number of students, and other data telling the student’s progress. Two hundred and seventy-seven students were tallied on the page.

Teacher’s Monthly School Report, Freedmen’s Bureau, Richmond, Virginia, June 1867

Third and Leigh street, Google informed me, now hosted a bus stop. Google street view came through, including the bus.

Third and Leigh Streets, Richmond, Virginia

Lydia Judah of Richmond taught at the school that opened at Third and Leigh street in October of 1866.[1] She had ten male students and 21 female. Lydia reported that 12 students were early readers and 12 were advanced.

Lydia Judah, the daughter of Benjamin W. Judah, and was born free in Virginia in about 1838.[2]

Richmond City Court Minutes

Benjamin was a shoemaker. Lydia grew up in a large family.[3]

Benjamin Judah household, 1850 US Census, Richmond, Virginia
Benjamin Judah household, 1860 Census, Richmond, Virginia

Lydia Judah died of consumption in Philadelphia in August of 1868.[4]

Lydia B. Judah death, 10 August 1868

Lydia and the other schoolteachers of the Freedmen’s Bureau contributed to the cause of freedom.


[1] “Virginia, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-D1L7-94X : accessed 25 June 2022); “Teacher’s Monthly School Report,” June 1867, Richmond,  Virginia; citing NARA microfilm publication M1913, roll 168.

“United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of the Superintendent of Education and of the Division of Education, 1865-1872,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9TH-KS4T-1 : accessed 27 June 2022); “Monthly Education Report, Virginia,” 20 February 1868, page 5; citing NARA microfilm publication M803, roll 32.

[2] “Richmond City, Virginia, Hustings Court Minutes, No. 14, 1840-1842,” 14 June 1841, page 354, regarding children of Benjamin W. Judah; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C374-V9R5-X: accessed 27 June 2022), Film #008574656; citing County Clerk

[3] 1850 U.S. Census, Henrico County, Virginia, population schedule, Richmond, page 383 (stamped facing page), dwelling 671, family 778, Ben. W. Judah household; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:53HT-DC33-832 : accessed 27 June 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 951.

1860 U.S. Census, Henrico County, Virginia, population schedule, Richmond Second Ward, page 195 (penned), dwelling 1047, family 1187, Benj. W. Judah household; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.ora/ark:/61903/3:1:3357-8BF2.9L1 : accessed 27 June 2022); citing NARA microfilm publication M653,roll 1352

[4] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate, Lydia B. Judah, Philadelphia, 10 August 1868; database with images, “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1903,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6SZ7-HZW : accessed 27 June 2022); citing Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society.

A letter from 1867 arrives in 2022

Hawkins Wilson wrote a letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau searching for the family he was separated from as a 6-year-old. It was May of 1867. He described his mother, uncle, and siblings and their location in Virginia before his enslaver took him away to Galveston, Texas.

Watch the story of how his letter achieved its goal in 2022 in the exquisite video “A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson.”

Well done, Ancestry, and thank you Anthony Anderson, Dr Henry Louis Gates, and Nicka Sewell-Smith for sharing this touching story.