Runaway slave ads are to be collected in a massive database

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tags: slavery, Runaway slave ads



Runaway slave advertisements – a common sight in North American newspapers in the 18th and 19th centuries – are frankly disturbing. They describe people as property, listing their physical attributes and family connections in chilling terms.

Yet the roughly 100,000 runaway slave advertisements also contain a wealth of information. They offer clues about the heartbreaking personal stories of those who were enslaved and sought their freedom. Taken together, they illuminate the sweep and scope of slavery and its tremendous human cost.

A unique interactive project in development at Cornell seeks to tell that entire story. The project, “Freedom on the Move” (FOTM), aims to compile all North American runaway slave advertisements, never before systematically collected, into a collaborative database of information. The project will include new tools allowing partner institutions to add their own archives, opening up unprecedented ways to engage a large online community and to study this traumatic but critical period in U.S. history.




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