Tag Archives: African American History Month

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery Program Recap

Thank you to Margaret Jerrido and Dr. Judith Giesberg for showcasing their collaborate project Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery.  Several years in the making, Last Seen is a searchable database of “Wanted” ads from nineteenth and early twentieth century newspapers, focusing on slaves and former slaves.  These documents contain wonderful nuggets of information for anyone conducting genealogical research with slave ancestry as well as highlight the importance of reuniting families for African Americans in the decades after Emancipation.

For example, here is an ad from the Philadelphia Times from July 8, 1889 for woman from Red Bank, NJ looking for her son:

One of the great aspects of Last Seen is that is a free database; no payments or subscription fees required.  As such, the team behind Last Seen relies on the help of thousands of people who volunteer their time to transcribe the ever-growing collection of records.  If you would like to sign-up to be a transcriber, please visit http://informationwanted.org/sign-up.

Another great feature of Last Seen is the geographical overlay of all of the records.  Here is a screenshot of the Eastern Seaboard, showcasing many records and their corresponding locations:

If you have any questions about the project, records, or any other aspect of Last Seen, please complete the form at http://www.informationwanted.org/contact.

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery

In honor of African American History Month, please join us for as Dr. Judith Geisberg and Margaret Jerrido showcase a wonderful resource for tracking down ancestors who were slaves.  Before slavery came to an end, enslaved families were routinely separated when “owners” sold mothers away from children, husbands from wives, sisters away from brothers.  The heartbreak of these separations has lived on to their descendants, who today try to fill in their family trees.  For two years, Dr. Geisberg and Ms. Jerrido collected “information wanted” ads taken out by former slaves searching for their loved ones lost in slavery.  The project began by collecting the ads found in The Christian Recorder, published by the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  To date the Last Seen project has identified more than 3,000 of these ads, digitized them, and made them available on the project website, where researchers and family genealogists can search the ads by proper name, location, circumstance of separation, and other events.  The site offers new avenues for genealogists to search their family history.

 

Judith Giesberg is Professor of History at Villanova University. Giesberg is the author of five books, Civil War Sisterhood: The United States Sanitary Commission and Women’s Politics in Transition (Boston, MA:  Northeastern University Press, 2000),“Army at Home:” Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (Chapel Hill, NC:  University of North Carolina Press, 2009), Keystone State in Crisis:  Pennsylvania in the Civil War (Pennsylvania Historical Association, 2013), and Emilie Davis’s Civil War:  The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865 (State College, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014.)  Judy’s latest book, Sex and the Civil War:  Soldiers, Pornography, and the Making of Modern Morality, (University of North Carolina Press) was published in 2017.  Judy is Editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era.

Margaret Jerrido received her BA, in history, from Temple University.  She received her MLS with a concentration in archival management from Drexel University. She has worked in the archival field for over 35 years.  She was the Director of the Black Women’s Physicians Project at the Medical College of Pennsylvania; Director of the Urban Archives in the Temple University Libraries; and is currently the part-time Archivist at Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia. She is a member of the Delaware Valley Archivists Group (DVAG) and the Mid-Atlantic Archives Conference (MARAC).  Ms. Jerrido has conducted workshops on how to preserve historical materials, lead discussion groups on how to begin an archives, and participated in panels and workshops on how to conduct oral histories to the PA Genealogical Society and the African American Genealogy Group.

 

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African Americans Before the NJ Supreme Court Program Recap

Thank you to Vivian Thiele from the New Jersey State Archives for an unprecedented and revealing look into how African Americans appeared before the NJ Supreme Court in numerous ways during the early colonial and post-Revolutionary War time periods.  One of most common ways Africans Americans appeared in the records of the NJ Supreme were through writs of Habeas Corpus to appear before the court for testimony as well as releases of recognizance, paid by slave owners, so that slaves were able to be “free” and work rather than remained imprisoned while awaiting a trial.   There are also instances where African Americans are named in Replevin lawsuits as stolen property, where one can also find supporting documents about the history of the individual African American, including bills of sale or transfer.  Lastly, Vivian touched on how certain judicial officials can be found repeatedly on different court documents relating to African Americans and how we can use that information as well as their decisions to glean more about their views on slavery, including early abolitionists, such as Joseph Bloomfield.

The records of the NJ Supreme Court relating to slave cases are currently being digitized and are not available online.  However, there is a online database of all of records of the NJ Supreme Court that can be filtered by different criteria, including ethnicity.  There are 463 records that can be found currently under the African American ethnicity criteria.  The database is available at https://wwwnet-dos.state.nj.us/DOS_ArchivesDBPortal/index.aspx.