The newest project underway at the Local History Department (LHD) involves documenting the plethora of advertisements on runaway slaves published in Lowndes County antebellum newspapers.
Mississippi University for Women history major and LHD intern Chris is pouring over the more than twenty pre 1865 county newspapers both on microfilm and in hardcopy format. She is creating a transcription of the advertisements text as well as capturing a scanned digital image of each entry.
The local project is conjunction with a larger research project called Documenting Runaway Slaves at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Documenting Runaway Slaves is a collaborative effort to document newspaper advertisements placed by masters seeking the capture and return of runaway slaves. Lead researchers, Dr. Max Grivno and Dr. Douglas Chambers, are focusing their pilot project on Mississippi, but have plans to expand the research to the larger Gulf South, the rest of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and Brazil.
Runaway slave advertisements personalize history, providing important clues about the lives of slaves, their efforts at self-emancipation, and the viewpoints of their masters. The ads often include first and last names of the slaves and their masters, where they lived, ages, and names of the current and previous slaveholder. They sometimes also include reasons why the slave fled, possible destinations, clothing, special skills or talents, and personality features.
This project will gather these documents and organize them into a full-text searchable online resource for academic researchers, genealogists and anyone who wants to learn more about this time period.
The Documenting Runaway Slaves research project has received generous support from the Mississippi Humanities Council, the U.S. National Park Service’s Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, and The University of Southern Mississippi, including the Department of History, the Center for the Study of the Gulf South, and the College of Arts & Letters.
To find out more visit http://aquila.usm.edu/drs/.