Digital History>eXplorations>Servitude and Slavery

Exploration1: Advertisements

December 10, 1736. RAN away from my House, in York Town, the 14th of November last, a Negro Fellow, named Quash. He is middle siz'd, about 27 Years old, speaks very good English, has small Eyes, and has lost the great Toe of his right Foot: He had on, when he went away, an old Kersey Wastecoat, a very good Oznabrigg Shirt, white Cotton Breeches, Yarn Stockings, and a Pair of Shoes, with Bath Mettal Buckles. Whoever brings the said Negro to my House, shall have Ten Shillings Reward. William Nelson
From The Geography of Slavery in Virginia website at

Select an advertisement for a runaway slave from Virginia Runaways:

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Answer as many of the following questions as you can, then compare your answers to the answers of others participants.

1. Is the advertisement for a slave or an indentured servant?

2. How long after the fugitive ran away was the advertisement published? Immediately or after a long delay?

3. What does the advertisement say the fugitive's personal characteristics and physical appearance, including the runaway's:

  • gender
  • age
  • complexion
  • height
  • hair style
  • whiskers
  • clothing
  • marital status
  • name
  • ailments or disabilities

4. Is the description of the fugitive detailed or vague? Does it seem to reflect a great deal of knowledge about the fugitive?

5. Does the fugitive speak English?

6. Does the fugitive have an African or an English name?

7. Does the fugitive have any special skills?

8. Does the advertisement offer any clues about the psychology or demeanor?

9. Does the fugitive have any scars?

10. How did the fugitive manage to escape?

11. Did the fugitive run away alone or in a group?

12. Who, if anyone, assisted in the escape?

13. At what time of the day and year did fugitive escape?

14. What goods, if any, did the fugitive escape with?

15. Where was the fugitive headed?

16. What reward was offered?

17. Is the fugitive armed?

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