Christian Friar, a student at the Mississippi University for Women, is spending the summer chronicling runaway slave advertisements in pre-Civil War newspapers from Alabama and Mississippi. The project is part of a larger effort entitled “Documenting Runaway Slaves,” organized by researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi.
According to a blog post on the project, “Runaway slave advertisements personalize history, providing important clues about the lives of slaves, their efforts at self-emancipation, and the viewpoints of their masters. The ads often include first and last names of the slaves and their masters, where they lived, ages, and names of the current and previous slaveholder. They sometimes also include reasons why the slave fled, possible destinations, clothing, special skills or talents, and personality features.”
Friar is making digital copies of every runaway slave advertisement that she finds. The resulting archive will become a searchable online resource for historians.