Fredericksburg Archives (1840s-50s)

For this project, I investigated advertisements in The Fredericksburg News during the years 1848-1852. The focus of my research is on public slave auctions and wanted ads for runaway slaves. This project is ongoing; I will search other local publications from this period and add more scanned images to this page.

Many of these advertisements appeared in business directories, or aligned with real estate and livestock auctions. The rewards for runaway slaves varied from one cent (a dime in today’s currency), to $100 (over $1,000 in today’s currency). 

The 21st century thus far, in my opinion, is focusing on reclaiming African American identity in a post-slavery, post-Civil Rights Movement period. My findings have deepened my understanding on the legacy of slavery, particularly as it relates to Fredericksburg history.

As an English major, I am continually encouraged to re-evaluate traditional history and engage with texts written by those who were long-discriminated against (women, POC, LGBTQ+). This primary source reminds me of history’s horrors, and motivates me to continue learning.

From The Fredericksburg News, October 16, 1849

This work is supported by the Virginiana Room at the downtown Fredericksburg Branch Library.