Advertisements from the Southwestern Christian Advocate

Two dollars in 1880 bought a yearlong subscription to the Southwestern Christian Advocate, a newspaper published in New Orleans by the Methodist Book Concern and distributed to nearly 500 preachers, 800 post offices, and more than 4,000 subscribers in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Lost Friends notices, which ran well into the first decade of the 20th century, featured messages from individuals searching for loved ones lost in slavery.

This searchable database provides access to more than 2,500 advertisements that appeared in the Advocate between November 1879 and December 1900. The database continues to expand as THNOC staff discover and digitize additional advertisements. The Lost Friends project originated as a companion to THNOC’s 2015 exhibition Purchased Lives and was inspired by Heather Andrea Williams’s 2012 book Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery. Interested researchers should also visit Last Seen: Finding Family after Slavery, a database developed by Villanova University with support from Mother Bethel AME Church.

Digital reproductions of the Lost Friends ads are courtesy of Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University Libraries (1879–1896) and the Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University (1897–1900). Please direct all questions concerning the Lost Friends database to

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