Saturday, May 18, 2013

Database Time

Taking a survey of slavery ads in Kentucky Civil War newspapers was becoming more and more difficult due the large number of notices published. Ads for captured runaways committed to Kentucky jails were especially tricky. These notices sometimes ran for months on end, and in an effort to note them only once and not duplicate them, it became necessary to devise a means that would allow me to keep track of them better.

Thank goodness for database programs like Microsoft Excel. Now all I have to do to determine if I have already recorded one of the many Johns, or Henrys, or Jims, I can check it against my database.

The database I have created has several categories. First I have the slave's name, then last name if applicable. I note whether the slave is male or female, too. Hopefully that will reveal some interesting information, such as determining which years women slaves most often chose to flee. I list the owner, if given in the ad. This category helps me keep all the common named slaves straight. Next I note the location where the slave left or was from, if, of course it is given. The jail the slave was committed to is also listed. Information such as age, height, weight, and complexion is also taken down when provided. Lastly, I note the name of the newspaper the runaway was advertised in, the date the ad was first observed by me, and if given, the date the slave was incarcerated. If I need to find the ad again for future reference, this allows me to have that information at the ready.

At present I am not sure how helpful all of this information will ultimately be, but right now I have what is probably a good sample size (328 individuals) and many more still to input and others to find. This database is only for runaways captured, which seems to be the vast majority of the ads. I have come across numerous runaway "wanted" ads posted by owners or renters, but for the present my database is only covering those caught. However, I am making paper notes of the wanted ads too. I will try to remember to post occasionally on how things are going as I proceed.

No comments:

Post a Comment