011769march9The “Geography of Slavery” website catalogs more than 4,000 advertisements offering rewards for runaway slaves—placed in newspapers from 1736 through 1803. Tom Costa (University of Virginia’s College at Wise) gathered these ads as a Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He says that, taken as a whole, these humanize the stories of men and women by giving modern historians information about their physical appearance, clothing, skills, family ties, and even their owner’s speculation on why they were escaping. 

Also: 150 years ago, John Brown either sought martyrdom or earnestly tried to free Virginia’s slaves through his assault on the Harper’s Ferry arsenal.  Michael Hunt (University of Virginia College at Wise) dissects history as a form of theater, looking at Brown’s decades-long rehearsal for his “performance” of the raid, his trial, and hanging.


Want to dig deeper? Explore Encyclopedia Virginia:

Runaway Slaves and Servants in Colonial Virginia

John Brown


This type of content is made possible by listeners like you. Please consider partnering with us and help enrich the lives of all our listeners nationwide.

Support With Good Reason