The Documenting Runaway Slaves (DRS) research project is a collaborative effort to document newspaper advertisements placed by masters seeking the capture and return of runaway slaves. Dr. Max Grivno and Dr. Douglas Chambers, lead researchers and faculty members in the Southern Miss Department of History, are focusing their pilot project on Mississippi, but plans are already in place to expand the research to the larger Gulf South, the rest of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and Brazil.

Runaway slave advertisements personalize history, providing important clues about the lives of slaves, their efforts at self-emancipation, and the viewpoints of their masters. The ads often include first and last names of the slaves and their masters, where they lived, ages, and names of the current and previous slaveholder. They sometimes also include reasons why the slave fled, possible destinations, clothing, special skills or talents, and personality features. This project will gather these documents and organize them into a full-text searchable online resource for academic researchers, genealogists and anyone who wants to learn more about this time period.

The Documenting Runaway Slaves research project has received generous support from the Mississippi Humanities Council (, the U.S. National Park Service’s Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative (, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (, and The University of Southern Mississippi, including the Department of History (, the Center for the Study of the Gulf South (, and the College of Arts & Letters (



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ms00354-01, George Andrews

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ms00418-01, H. Gridley

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