• Anders Dyrborg Birkemose
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
The Study into Runaway-advertisements has for a long time been grounded in a histography of American slavery studies. When these advertisements are discussed in historical papers it often concerns slaves in the Americas, or when it does concern European Runaways, it is often used to discuss the presence of a black diaspora within Europe.

My study into the Runaway-advertisements of Denmark has, however, shown that a great number of these advertisements were printed, not with the aim of capturing any person of African descent, but with the aim of capturing ordinary Danish workers. In a period from 1749 to 1854 have I managed to go through a singular newspaper from Copenhagen in Denmark and located approximately 8.000 Runaway-advertisements on all types of people counting slaves, convicts, soldiers, serfs, craftsmen, servants, tenants and sailors.

This is a new leaf within the history of coercion in work in Denmark, as the histography of these social groups often has been divided into silos or arenas of research, where the advertisements of each group has been peripherally recognized by each histography, but mostly considered a curiosity of entertaining or non-noteworthy value for further analysis. The reason behind this is threefold. First it is an issue sprung out of the traditional structure of Danish history writing where more global historical traditions of working with horizontal themes such as running away isn’t researched in respects to the Early Modern period. Secondly it has until recently been very difficult to collect the many thousands of advertisements I have, due to the collection methods prior to the re-digitization of the material. And thirdly, Runaway-advertisements are still, in the minds of Danish historians, a phenomena happening in the periphery of the 18th century, not the metropole.

My master thesis sought out to make an account of the 8.000 advertisements by asking the question what these advertisements informs us of the Copenhagen culture and practice of running away and advertising runaways in the early modern period. It is the aim of this thesis to show how several socials’ groups within Denmark all existed within the same regime of slavery (coercion), and while these groups made up entangled singularities they still they were also part of the same practice – a manifestation of a changing social order.

The analysis was designed as in four parts. The first tried to answer quantitively, and based in the research and advertisements of the individual social groups how and why the volume and frequency of the advertisements for each group changed over the examined period. The second part used a non-supervised topic-modelling method to have R studio design nine groups or themes as an inductive approach to the empirical evidence. The third part examined place names within the Copenhagen advertisements with advertisements from several other newspapers of Denmark to identify geographies of coercion and zones of control, a matter which has allured research for many years. And the last fourth part discussed the reasons for the disappearance of the advertisements in the mid-19th century.

It was concluded that the advertisement frequencies could be divided into two major clusters, a private and a governmental one, which existed synchronically, but also that both clusters changed over time in three time intervals from 1761 to 1788, and from 1788 to 1813, and form 1813 to 1854. The first time period was characterized by a low governmental involvement, and advertisements aimed at capturing runaways. In the second period the aim changed for the private cluster, were the advetisements developed into a form of legal protection, while governmental institutions began codifying and using advertisements in increasing volume. By 1813 the private advertisements were mostly gone and only the governmental advertisements remained. I deduce that these advertisements disappeared due to a changing social order and the emergence of a police force which rejected the jurisdiction of the household, and also openly declared runaway-advertisements to be a mad medium. While governmental advertisements from prisons and the army continued, they too began to drop by 1830 due to the increasing security and control within the state.

It is my believe that a study such as this one casts new light on the study of Runaway-advertisements and shows how these also existed in Europe, and was used creatively to maintain and reconstitute power by different patriarchs in the early modern period.
Publication date1 Jun 2022
Number of pages79
ID: 471898872