On Wed. Oct. 17, the Avery Research Center will host a discussion with a researcher leading a project to digitize newspaper ads used by former slaves to find long lost family members.

Dr. Judith Geisberg, a history professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia, will join Dr. Patricia Williams Lessane from Avery for a conversation about Last Seen, a project to collect, scan, and digitize the “Information Wanted” ads.

“The ads taken out in black newspapers mention family members, often by name, and also by physical description, last seen locations, and at times by the name of a former slave master,” according to the Last Seen project website.

Geisberg and Lessane will touch on the challenges of researching African-American heritage, the opportunities provided by digital humanities, and the possibility for the ads to be used as a genealogy tool.

The 45-minute discussion will begin at 6 p.m. in room 227 of the College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library at the corner of Coming and Calhoun streets. It will be followed by an audience Q&A.

You can check out a map distribution of the “Information Wanted” advertisements on the project website, informationwanted.org.

The Last Seen website also hosts a page where you can check out success stories of family members located with the help of the ads, including an posting dated Oct. 24, 1981 from Salt Lake City that read simply, “Many thanks for the notice in ‘Seeking for the Lost’ column. I have found my father.”

You can register online for for the free talk.

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