Due: In your discussion section, Friday, September 24

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Research Essay #1: Runaways in Colonial Virginia

Due: In your discussion section, Friday, September 24

Directions: Go to the “Geography of Slavery in Virginia” website at http://www.vcdh.virginia.edu/gos. Take a few minutes to get acquainted with the site, noting what information is available and what resources can help you understand the experience of runaway servants & slaves in colonial Virginia. Once you are comfortable with the site, do the following:
1) Go to the section entitled "Advertisements,” then “Browse the Ads.”
2) Choose one of the decades listed between 1730 and 1800. Then choose one year.
3) Moving month by month, you will see lists of runaway advertisements that appeared in the Virginia Gazette newspaper during the year you have chosen. These advertisements were placed by the owners of slaves and indentured servants who had escaped – the owners sought the return of the man or woman in question. Click the publication date links in order to see the full text of the ads.

4) Next, choose one of the two topics below:
a) The Experience of Slaves - Choose 25 ads labeled "Runaway slave" under the heading “Ad Type.” Begin reading the ads and, as you read, look for patterns in them that would help answer the following question: What do the ads reveal about the everyday lives of enslaved men and women? [Think about how the slaves are described and what those descriptions might reveal about their lives in slavery.]
b) Slavery vs. Indentured Servitude - Choose 12 ads labeled "Runaway servant" and 12 ads labeled "Runaway slave" under the heading “Ad Type.” Read the ads and look for patterns that would help you answer this question: How did the experience of slaves compare with the experience of indentured servants in colonial Virginia? [Compare the descriptions of the servants and the slaves and think about what those descriptions reveal about the differences or similarities in their daily lives.] NOTE: for this topic you should choose one of the earlier decades, when servants were more numerous in Virginia.

5) Write a 2-3 page, double-spaced essay on the topic you have chosen. The most successful essays will be sure to:
*have a clear and coherent thesis

*include examples from the advertisements, including quotes

*provide proper footnote/endnote citations for those examples [See course website for


*be well-organized, with an introduction and conclusion

6) Regardless of which topic you have chosen, you should also spend time evaluating the ads as a historical source. How helpful—or limited—are they in helping you understand the lives of servants and slaves? Be sure to address this question somewhere in your essay.

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