Research

Find ads using the map

Explore the Location Map where you can find 1700 ads by scrolling over the location where the searcher was located. Here you can also get a sense of early Black migration to the Midwest and West.

Find ads by a list of locations

Find ads by the Location List to discover ads by the state or country where the searcher was located.

Find ads by newspapers

Browse the newspapers to explore Black communities and to get to know church pastors and others who helped people find one another.

Find People

Tips for Finding People

  • Be sure to search by name AND location.
  • Search for the names of enslaved people AND the names of enslavers. Even if a formerly enslaved person later changed their surname, or if they are listed in the ad by first name only, searching for the enslaver's name might enable you to find them.
  • Be imaginative with the spelling! Names of people and places were sometimes written phonetically in the ads.
    Example: Search for "Phebe" AND "Pheobe."

Use Tags to Find Ads

Tags allow you to discover ads that share common themes. Tags represent the scholarly interpretation of project directors and allow researchers to search for ads by means other than name, location, or keyword. Tags are terms that do not appear in the ads. See our glossary of tags here.

Suggested Keywords

Topic Suggested keywords
Black military service
  • "regiment"
  • "Civil War"
  • "infantry"
  • "enlisted"
  • "army"
  • "Sherman"
A specific county Try variations, including abbreviations
  • "Bertie Co"
  • "Bertie County"
  • "Bertie"

Search Tips

There are a number of ways to search this collection, from basic to more advanced. Here are three ways to get started with your search:

  1. Simply type a name or keyword in the search box and hit enter or click the magnifying glass.
  2. If you would like to search by two words at once, select the ... next to the search box. Select Boolean and then type the words with “AND” between them. (For instance, you may want to search joined AND army.)
  3. If you would like to search an exact phrase, select the ... next to the search box. Select Exact match and then type your phrase. (For instance, you may want to search joined the army.)
Ask us for help

Through one of the ads, I was able to confirm my great great grandmother's father and one of her brothers. The ad also gave me the names of two additional brothers and a sister who placed the ad. What a wonderful resource you have provided. Thank you, thank you!

Patricia Newby,
Great, great granddaughter of Sookie & William Toles

I am in tears as I write this email. Browsing through these ads is one of the most emotional instances I have had in my years of genealogy research. I have always felt that by speaking someone's name is to honor that person and confirm that they were human and that they existed.

Anna M.Delgado,
"The Creola Genealogist"

Share Your Story

Do you have a family story you would like to share? Have you found an ancestor in the ads? Did you learn something new about your ancestors? Please share your family's story with us.

Share your story