From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). These former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms. Their narratives remain a peerless resource for understanding the lives of America’s four million slaves. What makes the WPA narratives so rich is that they capture the very voices of American slavery, revealing the texture of life as it was experienced and remembered. Each narrative taken alone offers a fragmentary, microcosmic representation of slave life. Read together, they offer a sweeping composite view of slavery in North America, allowing us to explore some of the most compelling themes of nineteenth-century slavery, including labor, resistance and flight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief.
- Abe McKlennan
Slave narrative of Abe McKlennan. Born in Lawrence County on a plantation located on Pearl River a few miles from Monticello, Miss. he finally drifted after the war to his present home, a mile from Sontag, Miss.
- Charlie Powers
A WPA slave narrative about Charlie Powers. Charlie Powers, ex-slave, lived near New Hebron, Mississippi in Lawerence County. He was born about 1851, was owned during slavery time by Abb Powers in Covington County.
- Salem Powell
Slave narrative of Salem Powell. Salem Powell, ex-slave, lived six miles east of Shivers Miss, on the Shivers and Hebron road. He was born about 1857, was owned during slavery time by John Powell, in the Dry Creek settlement.
Available Resources Offsite:
- Slave Narratives
Slave narratives are stories of surviving slaves told in their own words and ways. Unique, colorful, and authentic, these slave narratives provide a look at the culture of the South during slavery which heretofore had not been told.