DIGITAL: “Lost Friends” Database: Former Slaves Searching for Kin

Diaspora Hypertext, the Blog (Archived)

Two dollars in 1880 bought a yearlong subscription to the Southwestern Christian Advocate, a newspaper published in New Orleans by the Methodist Book Concern and distributed to nearly five hundred preachers, eight hundred post offices, and more than four thousand subscribers in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The “Lost Friends” column, which ran from the paper’s 1877 inception well into the first decade of the twentieth century, featured messages from individuals searching for loved ones lost in slavery.

This searchable database provides access to more than 330 advertisements that appeared in the Southwestern Christian Advocate between November 1879 and December 1880. Digital reproductions of the Lost Friends ads are courtesy of Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University Libraries.

Explore the database: Lost Friends Exhibition – The Historic New Orleans Collection.

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Bree Newsome Speaks Out After Her Act of Civil Disobedience

At dawn on June 27, 2015, Bree Newsome (with support from local activists) scaled the flag pole in front of South Carolina’s courthouse in Charleston, and took down the Confederate flag. She was immediately arrested and posted bail (thanks, in part, to crowdfunded support from Color of Change and Ferguson Action).

In an exclusive statement published at Blue Nation Review, Bree Newsome explained what she did and why:

“We discussed it and decided to remove the flag immediately, both as an act of civil disobedience and as a demonstration of the power people have when we work together. Achieving this would require many roles, including someone who must volunteer to scale the pole and remove the flag. It was decided that this role should go to a black woman and that a white man should be the one to help her over the fence as a sign that our alliance transcended both racial and gender divides. We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms.

I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015, including the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic. I did it in solidarity with the South African students who toppled a statue of the white supremacist, colonialist Cecil Rhodes. I did it for all the fierce black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free….”

Read the entire statement: EXCLUSIVE: Bree Newsome Speaks For The First Time After Courageous Act of Civil Disobedience.

For updates follow ColorOfChange.org and @fergusonaction on Twitter (relevant hashtags: #FreeBree, #BreeNewsome, #KeepItDown)

Rothman Remarks on Marguerite Thompson’s Petition for Freedom

Adam Rothman remarks on a freed woman of color’s petition for manumission, posted by the National Archives on June 30, 2015:

“…One aspect of Marguerite Thompson’s petition that drew my attention is the fact that she submitted her petition to the Judge Charles Peabody’s U.S. Provisional Court (USPC). This court was established by the United States after Union forces seized New Orleans in 1862. Legal scholar John Gordan writes that “the most legally dramatic of the Provisional Court’s activities was its granting of manumission petitions by slaveholders.” (See Gordan’s article, “New York Justice in Civil War Louisiana,” Judicial Notice 8, p. 20)

As Gordan reveals, one of those slaveholders who appealed to Judge Peabody to manumit his slaves was the lawyer Thomas Jefferson Durant, who later represented Rose Herera in her quest to recover her children.

Read the rest: Marguerite Thompson’s Petition | Beyond Freedom’s Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery.

BOOK: Hunter on Southern Black Women After the Civil War

Hunter To Joy My Freedom

Tera W. Hunter, To “Joy My Freedom:” Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

via Harvard University Press:

“As the Civil War drew to a close, newly emancipated black women workers made their way to Atlanta—the economic hub of the newly emerging urban and industrial south—in order to build an independent and free life on the rubble of their enslaved past. In an original and dramatic work of scholarship, Tera Hunter traces their lives in the postbellum era and reveals the centrality of their labors to the African-American struggle for freedom and justice. Household laborers and washerwomen were constrained by their employers’ domestic worlds but constructed their own world of work, play, negotiation, resistance, and community organization.

Hunter follows African-American working women from their newfound optimism and hope at the end of the Civil War to their struggles as free domestic laborers in the homes of their former masters. We witness their drive as they build neighborhoods and networks and their energy as they enjoy leisure hours in dance halls and clubs. We learn of their militance and the way they resisted efforts to keep them economically depressed and medically victimized. Finally, we understand the despair and defeat provoked by Jim Crow laws and segregation and how they spurred large numbers of black laboring women to migrate north.

Hunter weaves a rich and diverse tapestry of the culture and experience of black women workers in the post–Civil War south. Through anecdote and data, analysis and interpretation, she manages to penetrate African-American life and labor and to reveal the centrality of women at the inception—and at the heart—of the new south.”