This event is FREE & open to the public.

A dramatic reading of newspaper ads by emancipated slaves searching for family members in the 19th century

Last Seen: Voices from Slavery's Lost Families

Monday, February 18, 2019, 8:00pm 

Directed by Valerie Joyce

American slavery tore apart families—separating wives from husbands, children from parents, siblings from siblings. After the Civil War, emancipated slaves searched for these lost loved ones by placing hopeful and often-heartbreaking newspaper ads. Villanova University’s Department of History and Department of Theatre present a dramatic reading of the ads during “Last Seen: Voices from Slavery’s Lost Families” on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 at 8 p.m. at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall.

Production Staff

Director: Valerie Joyce

Scenic Designer: TBD

Costume Designer: TBD

Lighting Designer: TBD

Sound Designer: TBD

Dramaturg: TBD

Stage Manager: TBD



Dramaturgical Resources

The performance is a product of the “Last Seen” project, a collaboration between Villanova University’s Judith Giesberg, PhD, professor of History, and genealogists at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. Dr. Giesberg and her collaborators—including Villanova graduate students—uncovered and digitized more than 3,000 of former slaves’ Information Wanted ads and created an online database. The project, which has been featured on numerous media outlets including the CBS Evening News and NPR, has become a critically important tool for researchers, students and individuals looking to piece together their own family history. Visit to learn more.