About the Project
The Geography of Slavery project presents full transcriptions and images of all runaway and captured ads for slaves and servants placed in Virginia newspapers from 1736 to 1790, and is in the process of compiling advertisements well into the nineteenth century. In addition, the project offers a number of other documents related to slaves, servants, and slaveholders, including court records, other newspaper notices, slaveholder correspondence, and assorted literature about slavery and indentured servitude.
Collecting all this information in a single location allows users to search across advertisements and classes of documents in ways that would previously have been impossible. Searches allow users to find out what times of the year slaveholders were most likely to place advertisements for runaways, what skills advertised slaves were most likely to possess, and whether any patterns appear through time in flights of black slaves and white servants together, as well as to trace the progress through time of particular individuals, illuminating stories that may have previously been hidden from our eyes. In addition, users are able to map information from historical geographic locations, allowing them to generate dynamic maps from searches and to produce visual representations of the ranges of slaves' and servants' flight and capture across Virginia as well as throughout much of the Atlantic Ocean region.