Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mapping “Information Wanted”; African -American Migrations During the Post Civil War Period

The Christian Recorder is the weekly periodical of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was one of the most popular periodicals read by African American’s during the nineteenth century, and had a national readership. The periodical was published in Philadelphia, but contributing correspondents were located as far west as San Francisco, as far north as Canada, and as far south as Texas. There were nearly 500 subscribers, yet readership was much more significant as many of the subscribers were churches and other organization’s that allowed for sharing and mass readership of the periodical. Through this periodical, the church was able to disperse a distinct African-American culture, centered in Philadelphia, across the nation.


Near the conclusion of the civil war, the periodical published “Information Wanted” ads. Advertisers would post these ads in an attempt to find family and friends they were separated from one another due to slavery. Each ad usually had some standard information; the name of the missing person (searchee), where the searchee was from, where the searchee was last seen (City, County, State), the advertisers name, the advertisers relationship to the searchee, and the advertisers location (city, county, state). Our summer 2014 Digital History course complied data from each individual ad that was published between 1864-1869, and recorded the data into a shared excel spreadsheet that was to be used by each student to  create an individual digital project.


As the data we have collected exists in the form of a spreadsheet, its difficult to imagine the data as representing actual people searching for lost friends and family. Thus, while looking for a potential digital project, I wanted to find something that would allow the advertisers and the searchee’s to be represented physically. I decided on making a series of maps that would allow for me to demonstrate where both the advertisers and searchee’s on a map, and also enable broader conclusions to be drawn, by both myself and the reader, about the movement of African-Americans northward after the conclusion of the civil war.


Before making the maps, I first had select a mapping program that would fulfill the goals described above. Ideally, the mapping program would allow for the data to be displayed on a map that is georeferenced, allowing for the searchee’s and advertisers to be placed on the map that was in alignment with the locations listed in the data. A program that would allow for a georeferenced map from the time period under investigation, 1864-1869, would be even more ideal. Yet georeferenced maps, such as Google maps, don’t exist for this period under investigation. The majority of the maps needed to input data are from the current day, and therefore don’t align with maps from 1864-1869. Using a program that would allow for layering of maps from the period under investigation over georeferenced maps proved to be extremely time-consuming, and much to expansive for a project such as this. Rather, I opted just to present the data on a map provided by Google Fusion Tables which allows me to place the data collected onto current Google maps. This will still allow for the physical location of where the advertisers and searchee’s to be viewed on a physical map rather than as data. This also allows for me to create maps from the entire period under investigation rather than just one year, allowing for more conclusions about the data that’s been gathered by our course to be drawn. In order to make up for not being able to create maps using the geographical boundaries of the time period, I have included a map below from the civil war period that outlines the states where slavery was legal.


After selecting the mapping program I wanted to use, I then had to decide what data that collected from the “Information Wanted” ads that I wanted to use to build my maps.  As stated above, I planned to take data from each year for both searchee’s and advertisers. Since the advertisers have a concrete location where they can be contacted, selecting which data entry to use for the advertisers fairly straightforward. I decided to select the advertiser’s listed city, as it was the most common data column for placing the advertiser in a geographical location. For the searchee’s, I decided to use the city they were last seen in. As the searchee is missing, it’s difficult to place an exact location on where they were. Yet the last seen location can give a general idea of where the person being sought was last located, even if they were already separated from their family at this point. Cities were the most cited category and are much more accurate than just the state, so I opted to use the city to locate the missing searchee’s as well.


This method may leave some certain searchee’s and advertisers out, as they may not have listed a city and instead listed a state or county. But I feel, after having looked at the entire spreadsheet that is attached below, that choosing the city last seen and listed city for the advertiser is the most effective way to include as many of the individual advertisers and searchee’s as possible. In order to extract this data, I had to select copy the data from each row I intended to use into six separate spread sheets I created for each year, and then imported each spreadsheet separately into the Google Fusion Tables to create a map. I choose to use fixed markers instead of heat maps, as it allows for a better representation of individuals to be seen in each map.


Below is a map of Slave states that will be useful when looking at the maps that follow. Orange states were slave states, yellow states are free states.



The first year of ads that our class compiled data for was small, in terms of the number of ads posted, in comparison to the other years we covered. The searchee’s, shown in the map below, were almost evenly listed in both southern and northern states. This shows that people in both northern and southern states had been separated from family and friends, yet its difficult to tell what this means without comparing this years ads to other years.

1864 Searchee map

1864 Searchee map


The advertisers from 1864 were all located in northern states and one was even located in the United Kingdom (map below). The biggest take from this year is the broad readership of The Christian Recorder. Not only were there readers throughout the United States, but also abroad.

1863 Adversities Map

1863 Adversities Map


The year 1865 had a significantly higher amount of ads posted in The Christian Recorder. Ten of the seventeen cities where the searchee’s were last seen were located in slave or former slave states. The cluster of searchee’s last seen in Virginia represents the highest concentration of ads. As the ads numbers grew, so did the national scale, as the last seen locations now go as far south and west as Texas, and as far north as Minnesota.


1865 Searchee Map

1865 Searchee Map

Unlike the searchee’s, the advertisers were located in northern states that do not allow slavery by a large majority. A lot of the advertisers are located near large cities, trading hubs, or manufacturing centers, which appears to demonstrate the beginnings of the whats known as the Great Migration, that is African-Americans moving into urban centers in the north.


1865 Advertiser Map

1865 Advertiser Map


The searchee map from 1866 holds true to the trend from 1865; a majority of the missing people were last known to be in cities in the southern or middle slave states. By this year slavery had been abolished across the re-united country, yet the many of the missing persons had been gone for quite some time, when slavery was still a legal institution in these areas.

1866 Searchee Map

1866 Searchee Map


The advertisers in 1866 have made a visible shift to northeast. While there are some new outliers to the west in Illinois, Oregon, California, and Arizona, there is a noticeable move away from the southeast.


1866 Advertiser Map

1866 Advertiser Map


The searchee’s in 1867 are again mainly located in the southern states and former Border States by a fairly large majority. The overall numbers of searchee’s has gone down from 1866, but they still cover a large geographic area.

1867 Searchee Map

1867 Searchee Map


In 1867 the advertisers continue to move further north and east, concentrating in the area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio.


1867 Advertiser Map

1867 Advertiser Map


In 1868, the trend of the majority of the missing persons last seen location being in the southern, former slave states, continues.

1868 Searchee Map

1868 Searchee Map

The advertiser map for 1868 can appear to be a little deceiving, as many of the dots are in the border state of Maryland. But when looking at the heat map, posted below, its much more clear where the majority of the ad’s were located, in the general area Philadelphia and New York, further reinforcing the trend of advertisers concentrating in free, northern states.

1868 Advertiser Map

1868 Advertiser Map

1868 Advertiser Heat Map

1868 Advertiser Heat Map


The year 1869 had a small number of ads, and the searchee’s appear to be distributed in Northeast. This year appears to be more of an outlier due to the small number of ads.

1869 Searchee Map

1869 Searchee Map

The 1869 advertisers, like those perviously, are focused in the northeast, yet their isn’t a huge sample size to draw from.

1869 Advertiser Map

1869 Advertiser Map



There are several main conclusions that can be drawn from the maps that are presented above. First, and most important as it adds to the significance of this project, is the fact that The Christian Recorder truly had a national, and even international, readership. “Information Wanted” ads were posted from the United Kingdom, Canada, and as far west as California and Oregon. This shows that not only readers were located all over the United States, but the general population of African-Americans was also dispersed across nearly the entire country. The fact that people posted the ads in an attempt to find lost family members in far away geographic regions suggests that the periodical was widely read, and that advertisers truly believe they had a chance at finding missing family members. The readers of the periodical were participating in the constriction of a distinct African-American culture that was based in Philadelphia, but also had influences from across the United States.


The maps also seem to show the beginnings of what would be a much more popular trend, that is the migration of African-Americans from the southern states to the northeast where jobs were readily available and the lingering effects of slavery were less oppressive. The searchee’s were more often than not last seen in former slave states in the south. Yet as the war ended and the 1860’s progressed, advertisers continued to be concentrated further north and east, with Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan also showing growth (as these areas were burgeoning economic and manufacturing centers as the country expanded west). These advertisers were moving north, without their loved ones, in search of a better life. They were, however, still wanting to reconnect with their loved ones. These advertisers were able to escape the perils of slavery, and were, in the majority, living in free northern states. This trend continued to increase as the ads continued to be published.


This project, while tracing the movement of slaves northward, isn’t all-encompassing. Rather, this information was presented in a way that will provoke questions from the reader, and hopefully promote further research. Due to the short length of our course, it was not possible to investigate individual’s lives and draw conclusions based upon individual cases, while also creating maps, though that may be a topic ripe for future research, though filling in their personal lives to match the trends displayed in the maps may prove rewarding.


Below is attached the entire data spreadsheet from which I drew the data to create the maps above: July_2014_Christian_Recorder_Ads


Digging Into Data: African American Education and Self-perceptions in Postbellum America

Going through the data compiled from the “Information Wanted” advertisements in The Christian Recorder, I wanted to explore the hidden messages behind a wealth of variables and numbers. Having investigated the history of African American Education before and after the antebellum period in my digital article, I narrowed down the research topic as to the possible positive correlation between the increasing number of advertisers and the expanding of schools for African Americans after the end of the Civil War.

According to a timeline made by University of Michigan for the education of African Americans in the United States: 1600-2007, only 10% of African Americans had the basic reading and writing skills in 1865, while the literacy rate of this ethnic group increased to 19%  in 1870. Compared to white Americans whose literacy rate amounted to 92.5% in 1870, African Americans still lagged far behind. Nevertheless, given the staggering number of illiterates, they made great strides in education, almost doubling the literacy rate within 5 years after the end of the Civil War. After a preliminary review of the 700-cell Excel spreadsheet transcribed by the class, I found that there are concurrent trends between the growing number of people who placed the “Information Wanted” ads in the Christian Recorder and the rising number of black schools among the locations of these advertisers from 1863 to 1869. The coincidence of these upward trends piqued my curiosity. Therefore, in this project I decided to uncover several factors that might explain this coincidence.

Descriptions of Primary Source 

The Christian Recorder, the oldest existing black periodical in America, has been fervently provided a voice for the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) and black Americans since its first publication in July 1, 1852. Although it focused on religious news, it also addressed various secular issues about the black community, especially about family reunion, justice, equal rights, and education. For example, The Christian Recorder held an exclusive section dedicated for posting “Information Wanted” ads , from which African Americans could request information about the whereabouts of their missing loved family members by paying a small amount of money.

The Christian Recorder, April 28, 1866 issue.

The Christian Recorder, April 28, 1866 issue.

In Digital History Summer 2014 class at Villanova University , the class collaborated with the instructor, Ms. Deborah Boyer, to garner data from the “Information Wanted” ads in The Christian Recorder (covering periodical issues from December 26, 1863 to June 12, 1869). This project was quite impressive: we organized target information and placed data into an Excel spreadsheet. This grand Excel spreadsheet became my primary database: it has 700 columns (values) and 42 rows (valuables).

Research Methodology

  • Selecting Databases.To examine relationships between the number of advertisers to The Christian Recorder and the growth of black schools, I decided to use 3 databases for my project. They are: 1 ) the Excel spreadsheet containing data transcribed from “Information Wanted” Ads in The Christian Recorder; 2) List of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU);  and, 3) A Timeline for the Education of African Americans in the United States: 1600-2007.
  • Selecting Mapping Tools. I used Google Maps Engine Pro to create two maps: Map of Wartime Advertisers and Schools for African Americans from 1800 to 1864  and  Map of Postwar Advertisers and Schools for African Americans from 1865 to 1870.
  • Organizing Data. 
  • 1) Time Scope: the first map includes ads from December 26, 1863 to February 25, 1865; the second map includes ads from April 29, 1865 to June 12, 1869. As it is widely accepted, the end of the Civil War is marked by the date of April 9, 1865. On that day, Confederate General Robert.E. Lee surrendered his troops to Ulysses Grant at the Appomattox court house in Virginia. 
  • 2) Valuables Selection: Since I focused on the  locations of the advertisers, I only selected 10 valuables: Item_Number, Year, Date, Advertiser_ Full Name (I merged Advertiser’s first name, middle name, and last time into one column), Advertiser_Gender, Advertiser_Address, Advertiser_City, Advertiser_County, Advertiser_State, and Advertiser_Country. More importantly, I did not select the advertisers’ mailing addresses because sometimes they were different from the home addresses, and it would lead to misleading information when visualizing data.
  • 3): Paring Down Invalid Information: I first deleted all rows related to the same advertiser who placed ads several times. For example, Mary Dickerson placed ads to look for her 4 sons and 1 daughter (in the original Excel spreadsheet, it had 5 rows related to Mary Dickerson). However, it is redundant to map Mary Dickerson’s address 5 times. I then deleted any rows that did not specify advertisers’ states (except a few advertisers who lived in West Canada or Canada). For example, in Item_Number 72081, Fannie Robinson had no information about her address, city, state and country, so I deleted the entire row. To sum up, I whittled down data and had two separate new Excel Spreadsheets in good shape: “Wartime Advertisers” has 10 rows, 8 columns; “Postwar Advertisers” has 10 rows, 141 columns.
  • 4) Combining other Databases: I transcribed information from  List of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU); and A Timeline for the Education of African Americans in the United States: 1600-2007 to two separate Excel Spreadsheets: Black Schools established between 1800 and 1864, and Black Schools established between 1865 and 1870.


I envision that the advertisers’ geographic distribution might reflect the progress in literacy and positive self-perceptions within African American community during the late 19th century. To prove this hypothesis, I aimed to find out answers to the following questions: what are the demographics of the advertisers during the wartime and the postbellum period? What does the disparity of number of advertisers and schools indicate? Since The Christian Recorder was printed in Philadelphia, how did advertisers who lived outside of Pennsylvania hear about this periodical? Were there any Churches or facilities existent  in the African American community that help them contact The Christian Recorder?

The following are two maps that show African American men and women who placed “Information Wanted” advertisements in The Christian Recorder between December 1863 to June 1869; and the African American schools established between 1800 and 1870.

Map of Wartime Advertisers and Schools for African Americans established between 1800 and 1864

Map of Wartime Advertisers and Schools for African American built from 1800 to 1864   Copy Right: Shasha He

Map of Wartime Advertisers and Schools for African Americans established between 1800 and 1864 Copy Right: Shasha He

Map of Postwar Advertisers and Schools for African Americans established between 1865 and 1870

Map of Postwar Advertisers and Schools for African American built from 1865 to 1870  Copy Right: Shasha He

Map of Postwar Advertisers and Schools for African Americans established between 1865 to 1870 Copy Right: Shasha He

As shown from the above two maps, I made two bold arguments.

Argument 1: The growing number of advertisers in the postbellum period (after April 9, 1865) reflects more African Americans had access to The Christian Recorder; More importantly, to request information about their missing  loved ones, the advertisers may have basic literacy skills like clarifying names, locations, and backgrounds through either writing or oral forms (told editors, priests, staff at The Christian Recorder, and so on).

Regarding the number of advertisers and schools, they both show trends on the upswing. Between December 1863 and February 1865, a span of 1.2 years, only 8 advertisers with clear-cut home addresses (at least include the information of state) appeared in the data set. In stark contrast, between April 1865 to June 1869, a span of 4.2 years, there are altogether 142 advertisers with determinable residence addresses. That is to say, the number of registered advertisers increased 17.6 times by the first half of 1869. As for the number of schools, between 1800 and 1864, a span of 64 years, only 15 schools with determinable information established for black Africans. After the end of the Civil War, schools for African Americans started to sprout. Between 1865 to 1870, a span of 5 years, 27 listed schools were established for African Americans.

With this in mind, I argue that the growing number of advertisers between 1865 and 1869 may suggest more African Americans grasped the basic literacy skills. During the antebellum period, the slave states strictly restricted back slaves’ education.By the end of the 1830’s most Southern states has passed laws banning teaching reading and writing to African Americans. Whatever education a black African received during the antebellum period was probably the result of occasional instruction by a benevolent slave master or other individual groups. The nearest resemblance to formal education did not begin until the first decades of the 18th century, when a handful of public-spirited churchmen and pioneer educators such as Anthony Benezet established small schools for black freemen in cities such as New York, Philadelphia. From the first map, I found that  from 1800 to 1864, the majority of schools for black Africans were in Pennsylvania. While as the second map showed, between 1865 and 1870, the most traditional slave states including South Carolina (6), North Carolina (5), Mississippi (3), Louisiana (2), Georgia (2), and Alabama (2) established schools for African Americans (the numbers stand for the number of schools) .

The Slaves States and Free States in 1861  Map taken from wiki

The Slaves States and Free States in 1861 Map taken from wiki

Under this circumstance, two possibilities might exist: with more African Americans receiving education, the media such as newspapers, periodicals, and newsletters began reaching out to the African American community. Moreover, when requesting information of their beloved relatives, the advertisers may at least 1) heard about the Christian Recorder; and 2) they were able to either write down or narrate information to the Christian Recorder. If these two possibilities hold truth, a positive correction between the number of advertisers and literacy rate of African Americans in the late 19th century would have supportive evidence. However, to further support my argument, I need to examine other contributing factors such as the total number of African American population in each state, the teaching qualities, and so forth.

Argument 2: The act of placing ads indicates advertisers actively identified and turned to sources of interpersonal support in and outside of the African American community.

The influx of advertisers after the Civil War can also suggest three aspects: 1) African Americans started to searched for sources of support; 2) advertisers consciously knew that they wanted to “reconstruct” their family and life by looking for their lost relatives. In other words, their self-perceptions of themselves and the postwar America were enhanced; and 3) more institutions/ groups/ individuals were willing to help African Americans. Noticeable examples are that many advertisers registered mailing addresses when placing the ads. Many mailing addresses were entirely different from their residence addresses, indicating that someone were willing to notify the advertisers the updated information about their lost relatives.

Regarding the geographical information, I found that during the wartime (December 1863-February 1865), the few advertisers lived in free states. The sole exception, Rachel Shepherd, lived in Portsmouth, Virginia. This place was under the control of Union States in 1862, however. From the second map, I saw a greater geographical diversity among the advertisers. Because the Christian Recorder was printed in Philadelphia, the majority of advertisers still lived with Northern states. However, I also saw advertisers writing from former Confederate States, including North Carolina (6), Louisiana (4), Georgia (3), Virginia (10), Tennessee (1), Florida (1), and Mississippi (1). Furthermore, there were advertisers writing from even California or Canada, far away from Philadelphia (the numbers after each state stand for the number of advertisers).

Map of Union States and Confederate States before and during the Civil War

Map of Union States and Confederate States before and during the Civil War

These findings lead to a series of new questions: why so many African Americans came to Pennsylvania? Similarly, why so many former slaves ended up in the Midwest while others migrated to California or even Canada? How did the people who lived far from Pennsylvania hear about  the Christian Recorder? Or, does the spread of A.M.E explain the popularity of The Christian Recorder? Unfortunately, the Information Wanted ads do not reveal such information. Therefore, further research should be done in order to provide in-depth answers to these questions.

Further Research 

Since Google Maps Engine Pro couldn’t help me the figure out all of the hidden messages in the “Information Wanted” Ads, I decided to combine other visualization tools.

As for further exploring the possible correlations between the increasing number of advertisers and the progress in literacy and positive self-perceptions within African American community, I think text mining is the another feasible solution. In this project, I used Wordle to do the text mining and analysis of the “Information Wanted” Ads.

  • Databased and Data Organization

The primary database is still the Excel spreadsheet containing data transcribed from “Information Wanted” Ads in The Christian Recorder (covering periodical issues from December 26, 1863 to June 12, 1869). As for the time scope, I did the same thing with the previous research: the first text mining includes ads from December 26, 1863 to February 25, 1865; the second text mining includes ads from April 29, 1865 to June 12, 1869. In this part of research, I focused on “text” instead of “geographics”. Therefore, the valuables that I selected were Advertiser Relationship to Searchee, Searchee Relationship to Advertiser, and Reason for Separation. I did not include “Notes” because they contain many names of either the advertisers or the searchees, which would be irrelevant to the text analysis.

  • Text Visualization and Analysis 

For the text mining related to the wartime ads (December 26, 1863 to February 25, 1865), here is the text visualization:

Wordle: Wartime Text Mining for the Information Wanted Ads

For the text mining related to the postwar period ads (April 29, 1865 to June 12, 1869), here is the text visualization:

Wordle: Text Mining and Analysis related to the postward ads from the Christian Recorder

During the wartime period, the primary concern behind a family disruption was “Military Service”, which is understandable. During the postwar period, words that dominated the “Information Wanted” Ads were “owner”, “owned”, “belonged”, and “sold”. The two text visualizations suggest that almost 5 years after the end of the Civil War, the advertisers still had negative self-perceptions: they kept unconsciously reminding themselves of their slavery past.


Through using Google Maps Engine Pro and Wordle, I attempted to explore possible positive correlation between the increasing number of advertisers (spread all over the United States) and the rising literacy rate and enhanced self-esteem within the African American community. Through these project, I realized that by using only single tool, such as mapping tool, is unlikely to accomplish a satisfactory historical project. Many questions left unsolved, yet new questions keep popping up. The optimal way is to resourcefully combing various digital tools such as digital storytelling, mapping, GIS, timeline, text mining and so on.

The Years that Count: Analyzing Years of Separation in “The Christian Recorder” ‘Information Wanted’ Ads

Courtesy of Accessible Archives

Courtesy of Accessible Archives


The Christian Recorder is arguably one of the best sources documenting African-American History from the Civil War Era. A weekly periodical published in Philadelphia by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), brought religious news and current events to the African-American communities throughout both the North and South in the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. Aside from the articles, one its most valuable resources at the time of its publication and today for historians, was the “Information Wanted” section. From 1861 (the paper was technically founded in 1854, yet had a short-lived run in publication) to 1902, almost each issue features various ads placed by African-Americans throughout the country who were seeking missing loved ones after the war and Emancipation. Some of the ads placed contain every minutia of information that would have been helpful to locate a loved one from their location of origin, location last seen, length of separation and even specifics dealing with the former lives of their loved ones. Other unfortunately for historians, had the very basics necessary: name of person(s) and person(s) of contact. While the information featured in The Christian Recorder can be drawn out and transcribed into data, it poses a devastating portrait of 600 + families who had been torn apart in the chaotic war. One of the most basic piece of information that is also one of the most haunting, is the compilation of years of separation that appears in the ads. Unfortunately, many of the ads are missing vital information that could have helped some families locate in a more efficient matter. However; there is enough information presented in the ads to at least create an accurate representation of the clientele using The Christian Recorder. Not all of those who placed ads included years that their loved ones were missing or their reason for be separated, but those who did can give me us an interesting snapshot into the chaos during and after the Civil War for African-American families trying to reconnect and live as a free and whole family.


Years of Separation

After reviewing our class compilation of “Information Wanted” Ads, the column for years of separation was something that stuck out for me, especially as I wanted to to try and visually capture a different narrative on family and the emotions of searching for loved ones. Numbers can be challenging though in terms of representing emotions, especially staring at the reader from a spreadsheet.  My goal then, was to create a visual that would help people not only quickly process the information, but hopefully touch them as well. For starters, out of the 686 ads placed in The Christian Recorder from 1861- 1869, only 256 listed the years of separation. Therefore; the sample size for a visual was going to appear small since it was less than half.


While the sample size is small though, the visual it produces can provide a lot of information for the time period when compared to the original spreadsheet and the dates of the ads placed. Below is the bar graph based on the sample size of those who provided the separation length in their ads and the frequency in which they appear. While the below graph may only represent a 37% chunk of those who placed in ads over the time between 1861 and 1869, there was enough information to create a somewhat startling visual.

Untitled 2

The bar graph is  great because it allows historians to determine length of separation while also connecting reason for separation. Again, many of the entries are incomplete and the reasons for separation do not always match up with an entry that provided length of separation, however; we can make many inferences for those that are incomplete, as well as rely on the ads that are complete; providing both reason and length of separation. For instance, as seen above in the graph, one of the most frequently published separation length mentioned in the ads was 4 years. 4 years would make the most sense in the time period of the ads: 1861-1869 because almost 25 entries related the years of separation to military service either by voluntary service, or in some instances forced services. It would make sense considering that many emancipated African-Americans were migrating north with what was left of their families, forcing them to leave they male family members behind. Coming in close to the frequency of the 4 year length , are some multi-decade numbers: 15, 20, etc… While 25 separations were due to military service, approximately 160 + were due to slavery and being sold away from  the family before the war. The next runner-up is 23 entries citing 16 years of separation, followed by 22 entries citing 10 years of separation. For those who listed their cause of separation , these typically link to slavery and the loved one being sold or taken in the wanted ads themselves . It is amazing to see that in the years during and after the war, the families were still hoping to be reunited with loved ones. Some, as the graph shows, were separated for 40 years and one for 45! It must have been so devastating to continue the search for a family member who had been missing for multiple decades. Again, in researching this and compiling the data the numbers become the feature. However; after you look at the numbers and the visuals, one needs to remember that the 40 is 40 years without that loved one, not mere digits. In the aftermath of war and in the promise of freedom, there is still this creative hope  and notion of fidelity that by using The Christian Recorder as an advocate and voice, that there could still be a chance . What surprised me as I compiled the information was the relative low number of people who reported loved ones missing for 1,2,3 years before the significant increase of loved ones being lost for 4 years. i expected many more in the single digit numbers because of length of war-time service and knowing that some southern towns were emancipated late in the war. The Union army, most likely taking what they could get towards the end of the war, it seems that more men would have been drafted and boosted the frequency of 1,2,3 year separations. Almost as emotional as the numbers in the years frequency, are some of the reasons listed for separation in the ads. Again, many are due to military service, but most are attributed to slavery. All the various reasons listed in the ads can seen and analyzed in the visual below.

Wordle: Christian Recorder Ads





As stated before, I chose the topic above because there was something so interesting and yet so haunting about the numbers. In the spreadsheet, it stares back at you as numbers in a  formula. However; once i created the bar graph and could get a comparative visual, it turned into something else for me entirely. I knew from the get go that I wanted to use charts and graphs because they would make an impact as visuals. As simple as it seems, the charts and graphs were made using Numbers by Apple. I made a separate spreadsheet with the information that i needed and picked and chose the different visuals that I wanted it to correspond with and the particulars that i thought would best make the information pop in the most concise way. I wasn’t initially going to add the Wordle, but as I was going through and extracting the information, I felt I would be doing disservice to the bigger picture. Because of the time period I myself after just crunching the numbers and creating the visuals, figured most separation years between 1-8 or 9 years would be due to military service. If not military service, then possible contraband camps, basically any event that was tied to the war or emancipation. As I scrolled through the data, I kept seeing over and over again “sold”, “sold by owner”, “advertisee sold”, “advertiser sold” and even “taken”. It was devastating to see that even after the war and emancipation, the majority of people who appealed to The Christian Recorder for advocacy, were still searching for loved ones who were casualties of the terror of the slave trade and southern slavocracy. While for this article i merely compiled the data, anyone with a deep interest in the Civil War or American slavery, could take this project to a much deeper level. Afterwards, it left me wondering about the narratives of these people. Who were they? Did they find their loved ones? Were their families successful? A project that could culminate from this articles could be a biography of any of the people mentioned in the advertisements, or the advertisers themselves. it would be fascinating to find about their lives as slaves, their migration to the north, or even their connection to The Christian Recorder. I’d also be interested in a compilation of success statistics based on the ads featured in The Christian Recorder, and the families who placed them.