‘She Died from Grief’: Trauma and Emotion in Information Wanted Advertisements

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Abstract

This article examines formerly enslaved people’s use of Information Wanted advertisements to reconnect with lost family after the American Civil War. This article argues that physical reunification with loved ones was not the sole purpose of the advertisements of the post-emancipation era, since the advertisements both testified to the cruelty of family and kinship group separations and were radical first-person observations recording – and bearing witness to – the suffering of loved ones in enslavement. In safeguarding Black genealogies through the use of the advertisements, formerly enslaved people asserted family strength and power by publicly memorializing those they had lost. Formerly enslaved people thus employed emotion as a mechanism of resistance, within the advertisements, to protest the white emotional regime of the post-emancipation era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-116
Number of pages18
JournalSlavery & Abolition
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 06 Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Slavery
  • emotions
  • enslaved families
  • post-emancipation
  • trauma

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