One particularly cruel aspect of slavery was when enslavers separated and sold people, splitting families and friends apart. Every enslaved person in the United States experienced this trauma. Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman both said it was one of the main reasons they took their own freedom and dedicated themselves to ending slavery.
As soon as the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, newly freed people began to search for the family and friends they had been separated from during enslavement. Many placed advertisements in local and national newspapers. They asked for any information that might help them trace the lives of loved ones. When the war ended, the number of these advertisements grew tremendously and continued to appear in newspapers well into the 1900s.
Mary Brown placed this ad shortly after the end of the Civil War. She was looking for information about her daughter, who had been sold away from her 18 years before. Like many reunification ads, it includes information about family bonds. These details would likely have been lost had they not been preserved in newspapers.