Jun 17, 2022

‘A Dream Delivered’: New Film Tells Story of Lost Letters Reuniting Relatives of Man Born Into Slavery

Following the Civil War, one way that millions of liberated African Americans searched for lost relatives was by writing letters.

Hawkins Wilson, born into slavery and torn from his family as a boy, wrote several to the Freedmen’s Bureau in hopes of locating his siblings.

“Dear Sir, I am anxious to learn about my sisters, from whom I have been separated many years. I have never heard from them since I left Virginia twenty four years ago,” Wilson wrote from Galveston, Texas, on May 11, 1867.

“I am in hopes that they are still living and I am anxious to hear how they are getting on. I have no other one to apply to but you and am persuaded that you will help who stands in need of your services as I do. I shall be very grateful to you if you oblige me in this matter.”

Wilson’s letters went unanswered — until now.

Wilson’s letters were discovered in Ancestry’s digitized collection of more than 3.5 million Freedmen’s Bureau records and featured in a new docu-style film, “A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson.”

A Dream Delivered” will be available through the CBS News digital streaming network on Paramount+ and Pluto TV starting June 19. You can view a preview today on your computer at