Help Me to Find My People
The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery
After the Civil War, African Americans placed poignant “informationwanted” advertisements in newspapers, searching for missing family members.Inspired by the power of these ads, Heather Andrea Williams uses slavenarratives, letters, interviews, public records, and diaries to guide listenersback to devastating moments of family separation during slavery when peoplewere sold away from parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Williams exploresthese heartbreaking stories and the long, usually unsuccessfuljourneys toward reunification. Examining the interior lives of the enslaved andfreed people as they tried to come to terms with great loss, Williams groundstheir grief, fear, anger, longing, frustration, and hope in the history ofAmerican slavery and the domestic slave trade.
Williams follows those who were separated, chronicles theirsearches, and documents the rare experience of reunion. She also explores the empathy, sympathy, indifference, and hostility expressed by whites aboutsundered black families. Williams shows how searches for family members in thepost–Civil War era continue to reverberate in African American culture in theongoing search for family history and connection across generations.
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