Last Seen is recovering stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade. Formerly enslaved people placed these ads hoping to reconnect with family and loved ones for decades following emancipation. The ads serve as testaments to their enduring hope and determination to regain what was taken from them.

Mapping the Ads

Formerly enslaved people placed ads looking for loved ones from all over the United States and sometimes from as far away as Africa. Explore the map to see the locations of those placing ads or locations where ads appeared.

The Map

Search Thousands of Ads


Genealogists, teachers, and scholars can search our database of ads using names, locations, newspaper titles, and keywords.

Stack of information wanted newspaper clippings
Newspaper clipping stating that Alex Wesley and his mother have been found. Clipping accompanied by a portrait of a mother and son.

Family Reunions

Although there is no way to know exactly how many of the thousands of ads placed after emancipation resulted in reunion, the Last Seen database includes almost 100 ads announcing successful searches and reunions.

Explore Family Reunions

Did You Find a Family Member?

“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

Success Stories
Newspaper clipping of an information wanted ad written by Rachel Rogers

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