In the media

"What is Juneteenth”

You as a family can sit down and transcribe these ads to help families connect with their families as a Juneteenth family activity. Jasmine Bradshaw, First Name Basis Podcast, June 8, 2020

"Newspaper Ads By Former Slaves Searching For Missing Family To Be Performed Onstage"

The newspaper advertisements placed by former slaves that were searching for missing relatives will come to life when they are read onstage in a new theatrical performance set to debut at Philadelphia’s Villanova University. Paula Rogo, Essence Magazine, February 17, 2019

"Newspaper ads placed by former slaves seeking missing relatives to be read on stage at Villanova"

“Here we are, this far away from the Civil War, and we haven’t learned anything,” he said. There are “immigrant children at the border who’ve been taken away from their families and some of them may never see their parents again. I hope we will learn about our history, and that it will speak to our present.“ Kristin Holmes, "Newspaper ads placed by former slaves," Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 2019.

"Slave Families Lost and Found"

New research is helping to uncover long-forgotten stories of African-American family members torn apart by slavery—and their attempts to find each other. Bryan Brown, "Slave Families Lost and Found," Junior Scholastic, December 10, 2018.

"‘My mother was sold from me’: After slavery, the desperate search for loved ones in ‘last seen ads’" 

The ads tell real stories of real people with real names, humanizing enslaved people, something slave owners often tried to prevent.  DeNeen Brown, "My mother was sold from me," Washington Post, September 7, 2017. 

DeRay Mckesson, "Pod Save the People"

Otway Steward Information Wanted Ad  

"[W]hat is so powerful about this [site] is that it reminds you of the human aspect and it complicates the notion of freedom.  How free are you when all of the people you love are spread across the country?”  DeRay Mckesson, “FCC and Me,” Pod Save the People, June 20, 2017.  

"'Information Wanted': Freed slaves' heartbreaking ads tell personal stories of slavery"

Otway Steward Information Wanted Ad  

“I didn’t even know they were there,” [Margaret] Jerrido said. “I just said to myself ‘oh my God, it’s just a hidden treasure.’”
“[T]here are so few opportunities for us to hear enslaved people describe their lives,” Giesberg said. “Every one of these ads tells a life story.”

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, April 18, 2017.
Story by Vladimir Duthiers.

Otway Steward Information Wanted Ad 

In sometimes spare language, the ads represent the deep family ties that endured through the Civil War and beyond slavery, despite the best effort of slave owners to sever those ties. In some instances, the ads are placed decades after the family members have last been in contact.

NPR's All Things Considered, February 22, 2017.


Otway Steward Information Wanted Ad 

Under the headline “Information Wanted,” the ads appeared in African American publications around the nation as newly freed slaves established their lives and tried to reunite with loved ones. A potential treasure trove for genealogists and others researching family histories, they have been tucked away on microfilm in church basements and scattered across dozens of obscure library archives.

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 19, 2017.

Black people...have no idea what our original names were, what tongue was original to our throats, who we prayed to, or even our tribal and ritualistic customs — all lost over 400 years.

So what happens when you want to look for missing links to your family but don’t want to go the DNA route? Villanova University history professor and graduate program director Judith Giesberg is working on a project of her own to help people find those missing branches to their family trees.

Philadelphia Sunday Sun, March 31, 2017


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