Last Seen

Your DGB for today is to check out Last Seen and sign up to transcribe when you have free time.

“Last Seen, is a project of the Graduate Program of the Department of History at Villanova University in collaboration with Mother Bethel AME Church.” Students comb over old microfilm newspapers looking for ads that sold enslaved people. Then they put those ads on their website and wait for someone, like you, to transcribe them. This, in turn, helps those looking for lost ancestors reconnect with their familial line and possibly find relatives they never knew they had. You can also submit ads for transcription.

During the Transatlantic Slave Trade from 1522-1866, 12.5 million people were shipped from Africa to the New World. Only 10.7 million of them survived. Once the approximately 400,000 enslaved people shipped to the United States arrived here, many families were broken up, children separated from their parents, husbands separated from their wives. Enslaved women gave birth to on average, nine children, and the enslaved population rose to 3.9 million. Enslaved people were often traded with zero regard for families, or even because they felt the family bond was hindering their work. We tell you these facts because it is important to know our history. We can’t change the past, but we can help people reconnect with those loved ones they lost through the horrors of the domestic slave trade.

Sign up to transcribe with Last Seen. See our history and learn from it. These ads are shocking and horrific, but “(w)e have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” - Frederick Douglass