How to attend The Book of Lost Friends Panel Discussion: “Lost Friends, Lost History”

You may attend by joining us at Westside Regional Library for live viewing or by visiting this link.

How to read The Book of Lost Friends

Request The Book of Lost Friends for checkout

Read or listen on the CloudLibrary app

Read or listen on the Libby/Overdrive app

Resources from the Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection’s 2015 exhibition, Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808–1865, continues online in virtual format. The virtual exhibition retains many resources that explore the Lost Friends’ history depicted in Lisa Wingate’s The Book of Lost Friends:

In Search of Freedom and Family is one of the key components of the Purchased Lives exhibit, exploring the struggles of African Americans after the abolition of slavery.

Following emancipation, “Lost Friends” columns proliferated in newspapers across the South as African Americans searched for loved ones lost during slavery.

THNOC’s Lost Friends Database provides access to 2,450 advertisements that appeared in the Southwestern Christian Advocate newspaper between November 1879 and November 1896. Visit the site to browse these searchable ads by name, location, and year of posting.

Purchased Lives: Torn Apart and Stitched Back Together (lesson plans for grade levels 7-9) – The four lessons in this guide complement the Purchased Lives exhibit. In Lesson 3, students read primary and secondary source documents that describe the efforts of freed slaves to find friends and family after the Civil War ended.

New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade (Virtual Field Trip) – THNOC education staff takes a look behind the scenes at the Purchased Lives exhibit, then takes a virtual walking tour of sites connected to the domestic slave trade in New Orleans. Lost Friends’ history is discussed starting at minute 18:19 of the video.

Purchased Lives Panel Exhibition


Conversation with author Lisa Wingate on The Book of Lost Friends – Author Lisa Wingate joined The Historic New Orleans Collection for an exclusive discussion of The Book of Lost Friends. Wingate was joined by Diane Plauché—the longtime THNOC volunteer whose work provided the initial spark for the novel—in a Zoom conversation moderated by Jessica Dorman, director of publications.

Lisa Wingate: The Book of Lost Friends Interview, The Book Report Network

Interview with THNOC’s Purchased Lives curator Erin Greenwald about the exhibit and the lost friends’ history, NPR Weekend Edition

Piecing Together Stories of Families Lost in Slavery: An Interview with Help Me to Find My People author Heather Andrea Willams


Lost Friends Ads Reveal the Heartbreak of Family Separation During Slavery, THNOC

 Lost Friends, 64 Parishes

Slavery’s “Lost Friends” continue to speak. Are we listening?, THNOC


A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson – In this documentary, viewers follow the incredible story of an African American family who embarks on a journey of discovery after a lost letter from a formerly enslaved ancestor is unearthed.  

Emancipation: Through It All, We Made It – A reenactment written and narrated by Naomi Mitchell Carrier for the Emancipation Park Conservancy, Houston, Texas.


The Historic New Orleans Collection

Recommended Books

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Help Me to Find My People by Heather Andrea Williams

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah Jones

How We Got Over: Growing Up in the Segregated South, edited by Helen Benjamin

The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History by Anne C. Bailey

Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedman’s Bureau and Black Land Ownership by Claude F. Oubre

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Emancipation’s Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest The Freedman’s Bureau and Reconstruction: Reconsiderations by Paul Cimbala

Collections & Databases

The Lost Friends Database provides access to 2,450 advertisements that appeared in the Southwestern Christian Advocate newspaper between November 1879 and November 1896. Visit the site to browse these ads, which are searchable by name, location, and year of posting. 

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery recovers stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade. Formerly enslaved people placed ads hoping to reconnect with family and loved ones for decades following emancipation. The ads testify to their enduring hope and determination to regain what was taken from them.

Southwestern Christian Advocate Newspaper – Centenary College of Louisiana holds a digital collection consisting of the Southwestern Advocate) newspaper and its successor, the Southwestern Christian Advocate. The newspaper’s distribution list contained 500 Black preachers, 800 post offices, and more than 4,000 subscribers throughout Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, making it a highly effective resource for those seeking their loved ones following the Civil War. Thousands of Lost Friends ads were placed in the Advocate as well as other newspapers across the South.

People Not Property provides a detailed look at slavery in the North from its beginnings in 1626 to the abolition of slavery in 1865. This visually stunning website presents the history of northern slavery in four chapters centered on slavery’s origins and the lives of the enslaved.

The Library of Congress collection Slavery in America offers a vast array of primary sources including photographs, manuscript materials, recorded oral histories, and images. Among these digitized resources, Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers and Images of African American Slavery and Freedom, provide especially useful primary sources.

Reading & Discussion Guides

Lost Friends, Lost History, Rapides Public Library – Download the reading and discussion guide created for RPL’s 2022 Rapides Reads book selection, The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. (downloadable pdf)

Book Club Discussion Kit, Penguin Random House LibraryThe Book of Lost Friends discussion kit containing photos and commentary from author Lisa Wingate.

Relevant Reading Book Guides: The Book of Lost Friends

This program is funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.