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.