28 October 2016

Opinions Regarding Slavery: Slave Narratives. 1822-1865 [FREE Access]

Opinions Regarding Slavery: Slave Narratives. 1822-1865 [FREE Access]

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Archives and Manuscripts Department (Baton Rouge, LA) – John B. Cade Library has a collection, Opinions Regarding Slavery: Slave Narratives, 1822-1865, available online.  These are organized geographically by state/territory.

The collecting of interviews did not start with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as many believed. The first study, at Southern University, was directed and compiled by John B. Cade during the years of 1929-1930 whose interest in the utilization of the accounts of ex-slaves was initially aroused by the controversy over the nature of the slave regime and, in particular by remarks reportedly made by Dr. U.B. Phillip; who reportedly stated that "Negroes for the most part did not mind slavery." The 1929 set of narratives which were compiled at Southern University were destroyed. A preliminary study conducted at Southern during the years 1929-1930 was expanded during the early years of the depression under Cade's direction, and the results of those interviews were later summarized in Cade's article "Out of the Mouths of Ex-Slaves." The Journal of Negro History. Volume 20, Number 3 (July, 1935), pp. 294-337…

The 1935 Prairie View Slave narrative collection contains 17 states including the Indian Territory and Canada. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indian Territory, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma Territory, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Canada.

You can access the full finding aid.  Each narrative can be accessed as a PDF.

Other sources for slave narratives are:

·        North American Slave Narratives (Documenting the American South)

·        Library of Congress – Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938

·        WPA Slave Narratives (PBS, Slavery and the Making of America)

What other collections of slave narratives are you aware of?

Editor's Note: Angela Proctor, University Archivist at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana provided me with a corrected URL [12 December 2016]

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