In June of 1863, on the grounds of the federally confiscated Custis Arlington estate (today's Arlington National Cemetery), the U.S. government established Freedman's Village as a temporary wartime refuge for emancipated and fugitive ("contraband") slaves. Freedman's Village survived long after the Civil War, thriving for 37 years and sowing the seeds for Arlington's African-American community.
Arlington’s first free neighborhood, the village evolved into a unique and thriving community with schools, hospitals, churches and social services. Living at Freedman's Village was the first experience of life out of bondage for thousands of African Americans, including some enslaved people who formerly lived and labored on the estate.
While intended to be temporary, the community survived long after the Civil War, thriving for 37 years — from 1863 until 1900 — and sowing the seeds for Arlington's African-American community. This lasting legacy connects Arlington National Cemetery to the national history of slavery and emancipation.