June 18, 2020
7 p.m. Central Time
This is a virtual program, which will take place on Zoom. Please download Zoom in advance of the program.
Admission is free. Register now through Zoom.
Register now through Zoom

THNOC’s Lost Friends database, a companion to the groundbreaking Purchased Lives exhibition, is now the inspiration for a New York Times bestselling novel.  

On June 18, join author Lisa Wingate for an exclusive discussion of her latest novel, The Book of Lost Friends. Wingate will be joined by Diane Plauché—the longtime THNOC volunteer whose work provided the initial spark for the novel—in a Zoom conversation moderated by Jessica Dorman, director of publications. This program is presented with support from Octavia Books

The virtual event will take place on Zoom. Admission is free, and registration is now open. Click here to sign up.

In the decades following the Civil War, African American families seeking loved ones lost in slavery placed “Lost Friends” advertisements in the Southwestern Christian Advocate, a newspaper published in New Orleans and distributed widely across the South. Plauché and THNOC’s database team—led by Andy Forester, Melissa Carrier, and Erin M. Greenwald—spent countless hours scouring the Advocate and tagging people and places for inclusion in the database. An admirer of Wingate’s 2017 historical novel Before We Were Yours, Plauché wrote the author on a whim, describing the project. As Wingate puts it, “I tumbled down a rabbit hole of lives long gone, stories and emotions and yearning encapsulated in the faded, smudged type of old-time printing presses.” The Book of Lost Friends, Wingate’s response to Plauché’s prompt, was published by Ballantine Books in April, debuting at number 8 on the NYT hardcover bestseller list. 

To learn more about the book’s genesis, and the complex relationship between public history and historical fiction, read the novel, and tune in on June 18! The Shop at The Collection has a limited supply of The Book of Lost Friends, and Octavia Books is stocked and offering THNOC members a discount on their orders. (Members, check your email for a message sent on May 31 with the promo code.)  

For more on "Lost Friends" advertisements, read this 2018 First Draft story on the development of the database.