S05 E11: Finding Lost Enslaved Family: Freedmen’s Newspaper Adverts with Prof. Judith Giesberg

Poignant and moving beyond measure: the newspaper advertisements placed by formerly enslaved people looking for loved ones from all over the United States can be packed with genealogical researchable information. The names of family members left behind, the names of enslavers, and places of enslavement often feature in these adverts.

The emotion and longing behind their desire to re-connect with long-lost family due to slavery leap out in so many of the adverts that were placed.

In our research, we have found ads that date from 1863 to 1902. Newspapers like Philadelphia’s Christian Recorder, the newspaper of the AME Church; New Orleans’ Black Republican, Nashville’s The Colored Tennessean, Charleston’s South Carolina Leader, the Free Men’s Press of Galveston, Texas, and Cincinnati’s The Colored Citizen represent a handful of papers which ran these advertisements.

While the language used is sometimes sparse, the ads represent the deep family ties that endured through slavery, the Civil War, and beyond slavery – despite the best effort of enslavers to sever those ties. In some instances, the ads were placed decades after the family members had last been in contact.

In this episode, we talk about the genealogical importance of these ads for African American genealogists…and where to find them.

We were so pleased to welcome Prof. Judy Giesberg of Villanova University to the show. She is the director of the “Digital project Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery”. We are excited to have her join the conversation.

The Information Wanted website: http://informationwanted.org

Books by Brian Sheffey

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Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1646116089/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

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