Black History Month: GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website, and all the websites are free.

As Black History Month 2022 comes to a close, I’d like to share one last GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, which is a project of the Department of History at Villanova University and Mother Bethel AME Church.

With the close of the American Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States, newly free black people wanted to find family from whom they had been separated for months, years and even decades. Many families have had stories passed down of lost children, parents, cousins who were never found and reunited with loved ones.

The goal of Last Seen is to recover the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade.

Last Seen provides both K-12 and college level lesson plan ideas, but genealogists will want to check out the Research tab to search thousands of Wanted Ads taken out by former slaves, hoping to find their loved ones.

The ads can be searched by newspapers, locations and with a map. What I really like about the interactive map option is that you can view the ads as they were placed over time.

Many of the ads have a surprising amount of details in them.

These ads were placed locations far outside the American South and geographically cover locations from Africa to Mexico to Massachusetts.

There are four ways you can contribute to this project – share your own family story, contribute ads found in old newspapers, transcribe the text of ads that have been donated and financially support this project.

That wraps up Black History Month for 2022. I hope you’ve found some interesting new websites to check out in your research.

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