On September 28, 2022, Humanities Texas held a webinar in collaboration with Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery to introduce teachers to the project and accompanying resources available for classroom use.
Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery aims to identify, digitize, transcribe, and publish ads placed in newspapers across the United States (and beyond) by formerly enslaved people searching for family members and loved ones after emancipation. Their ads reveal deep familial histories and multiple separations, while also documenting the enduring hope of reunion. Unlike other primary sources recorded through enslavers’ points of view, these ads reveal formerly enslaved people’s experiences in their own words.
Ideal for teaching about the lives of the enslaved and the domestic slave trade, Last Seen ads are also excellent sources to teach about Reconstruction. While most lessons on Reconstruction focus on the political and economic challenges facing the country at large in the post-war period, Last Seen ads document the ways in which freed people attempted to reconstruct their own lives and families.
The Last Seen Project database has over 4,500 of these ads. The website also has several freely downloadable ready-made lesson plans and a wide array of select primary sources that teachers can use to create their own sets of primary sources. There are over 600 ads either placed by formerly enslaved people in Texas or that mention being trafficked to Texas, making this collection an especially good resource for teaching Texas history.
Webinar faculty includes Signe Peterson Fourmy and Judith Giesberg, both of the Last Seen Project.
The webinar took place over Zoom from 5–6:15 pm on Wednesday, September 28. The schedule is available here.
The webinar is made possible with major funding from the State of Texas with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.