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Runaway Slave Advertisements Focus of Historical Research Project

Runaway Slave Advertisements Focus of Historical Research Project


For months McCain Library at Southern Miss
became a second home of sorts for Matthew Germenis who was tasked with researching several
years of runaway slave advertisements in Mississippi beginning in 1834. I ended up focusing on
the Mississippian, which was a newspaper, weekly newspaper, published in Jackson. And
I read every issue between 1834 and 1838. The information has been added to a large
scale research project lead in part by Dr. Douglas Chambers, titled documenting runaway
slaves. A collaborative effort that includes advertisements both here in Mississippi to
the Caribbean, and will soon span the deep south from Texas to Georgia. Wherever there
was slavery and newspapers there were runaway slave advertisements. And we are going to
create the world’s repository for these important primary source materials. The research team
comprised of professors and students from Southern Miss and other universities across
the south have documented three-thousand advertisements and identified more than ten-thousand-five-hundred
runaway slaves. Providing some of the most vivid descriptions of individual slaves ever
recorded. It gives us the opportunity to imagine a flesh and blood person in this situation
and how they resisted. And while the advertisements were first and foremost aimed at capturing
slaves, oftentimes with a reward attached, Dr. Chambers says they provide historians
with a wealth of information about the individually enslaved person. These were unconscious sources,
if we think of it that way, they had a very specific purpose. Try to capture a slave that
ran away, but they wind up telling us so much about the individual and the world of slavery.
The anthology will soon be available as a researchable online resource for academic
researchers, genealogists, and history buffs. From The University of Southern Mississippi,
I’m Layla Essary.

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