Call for Volunteers

The Documenting Runaway Slaves Project was begun at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2012 with support from the National Park Service’s Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative and the Mississippi Humanities Council.  Since then, DRS historians have collected thousands of runaway slave advertisements from Mississippi, Arkansas, and the Caribbean.  This fall, we are preparing to launch a massive electronic archive that will be searchable using key terms, subject headings, and geographic regions.  As we move into the next phase of the project, we are interested in expanding our focus to include the entire South.

To complete this important work, the DRS team is looking for volunteers to assist in our research.  All you need is a microfilm reader and a library with access to pre-Civil War newspapers.  Our volunteer researchers will track which newspapers they have examined and capture images of these documents using anything from digital scanners and printers to cell phone cameras.  The DRS historians will then transcribe the documents, flag them with metadata and subject headings, and add them to our collection.  Whether you want to look at one issue of a newspaper or hundreds of papers from your home town (or any place you are interested in examining), your contribution will be greatly appreciated.  Researchers from any walk of life will be welcomed—high school and university students, genealogists, interns and volunteers at historical sites, and the general public can all help make this project a success.

If you are interested, please contact Dr. Max Grivno, Department of History, The University of Southern Mississippi (

© 2013 DRS

The Documenting Runaway Slaves research project has received generous support from the Mississippi Humanities Council, the U.S. National Park Service's Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, and The University of Southern Mississippi, including the Department of History, the Center for the Study of the Gulf South, and the College of Arts & Letters.