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Project Details

Last Seen is recovering the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade. Formerly enslaved people placed these ads hoping to reconnect with family and loved ones for decades following emancipation. These ads serve as testaments to their enduring hope and determination to regain what was taken from them. You can search the thousands of Information Wanted ads collected here to look for your ancestors, participate in our project by transcribing ads, or discover resources and materials to use in your classroom.

Subjects or Themes

African American

Project Language(s)


Time Period

Geographic Location

Project Categories

Target Audience(s)


Judith Giesberg



Host Institution / Affiliation / Project Location

Villanova University

Software Employed

Labor and Support

The project has been built, largely via the support of stipended-graduate students, 14 hours a week, since fall 2016. Transcriptions are completed by unpaid volunteers.

Project Cost

Partnerships, funding sources, or grant-funding acknowledgement

National Historical Publications & Records Commission of the National Archives; Villanova University’s Department of History, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest, the Schretter Emerging Faculty Scholars Endowed Fund, and the Lore Kephart '86 Distinguished Historians Lecture Series Fund; and Pennsylvania Abolition Society.