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Help Me to Find My People: A Resource Guide  

A guide to resources based on the book, "Help Me to Find My People" by Dr. Heather A. Williams, UNC Professor of History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2012.
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2014 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

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The Southern Historical Collection at the Wilson Library

Long at the center of inquiry into the history and culture of the American South, the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) is a vast collection of distinct archival collections. These collections are comprised of unique primary documents, such as diaries, journals, letters, correspondence, photographs, maps, drawings, ledgers, oral histories, moving images, albums, scrapbooks, and literary manuscripts.

The SHC is open for research in the Wilson Library on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. Materials in the SHC are non-circulating.

Researchers mush register to use SHC materials, but no appointment is necessary. Please bring picture identification.

For more information, please contact us at:

Southern Historical Collection
CB# 3926, Wilson Library
Univ of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-8890
Telephone: 919-962-1345
FAX: 919-962-4452
Inquiry Form: http://


Help Me to Find My People

 courtesy UNC Press 2012


Book Description (from UNC Press)

"After the Civil War, African Americans placed poignant "information wanted" advertisements in newspapers, searching for missing family members. Inspired by the power of these ads, Heather Andrea Williams uses slave narratives, letters, interviews, public records, and diaries to guide readers back to devastating moments of family separation during slavery when people were sold away from parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Williams explores the heartbreaking stories of separation and the long, usually unsuccessful journeys toward reunification. Examining the interior lives of the enslaved and freedpeople as they tried to come to terms with great loss, Williams grounds their grief, fear, anger, longing, frustration, and hope in the history of American slavery and the domestic slave trade.

Williams follows those who were separated, chronicles their searches, and documents the rare experience of reunion. She also explores the sympathy, indifference, hostility, or empathy expressed by whites about sundered black families. Williams shows how searches for family members in the post-Civil War era continue to reverberate in African American culture in the ongoing search for family history and connection across generations."

from the UNC Press website


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Davis Library Research & Instructional Services
(919) 962-2094
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Stone Center Library for Black Culture & History

General Information
The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History Library's collection gathers works on the African American experience and the African Diaspora, with a focus on the social sciences and humanities. The library has a small collection of print periodicals, and provides access to a wide array of electronic journals and databases.
The library features reading and browsing areas, two spacious group study rooms, and ten study carrels, all of which are equipped with Internet port connections. In addition, the library has wireless capabilities. A printer is available for use with a UNC One Card. The library's screen name for online reference assistance is: StonecenterRef.

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