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Slavery: Identities & Biographies

Identities & Biographies


Slave narratives

The Opinions Regarding Slavery: Slave Narrative collection consists of an original manuscript collection compiled by John Brother Cade, Sr., who was the Dean of Southern University.

The slave narrative collection is arranged by series. The collection consists of 229 reports of ex-slaves from 17 states and 1 country and measures 1.29 linear feet. The first series is the state of Alabama, which consists of 11 ex-slave reports. Series II, the state of Arkansas, with 4 ex-slave reports. Series III, the state of Florida has 1 report. Series IV, the state of Georgia, has 7 reports. Series V, the Indian Territory has 1 report. Series VI, the state of Kansas has 1 report. Series VII, the state of Kentucky consists of 10 reports. Series VIII, the state of Louisiana consists of 22 reports. Series IX, the state of Maryland has 2 reports. Series X, the state of Mississippi consists of 16 reports. Series XI, the state of Missouri has 9 reports. Series XII, the state of North Carolina consists of 8 reports. Series XIII, the state of Oklahoma (Territory) has 1 report. Series XIV, the state of South Carolina has 5 reports. Series XV, the state of Tennessee consists of 7 reports. Series XVI, the state of Texas consists of 106 reports. Series XVII, the state of Virginia consists of 17 reports. In the last Series XVIII, the country of Canada has 1 report.

The collection is accessible via JSTOR.

The WPA Slave Narrative Collection consists of narratives collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. At the conclusion of the project, the edited transcripts were assembed and microfiled in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The Library of Congress digitized the narratives and scanned from originals 500 photographs, creating the online collection, Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938. This resource is searchable.

Volumes 2-17 of The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, edited by George P. Rawick and others, present these narratives with a slightly different organization; the later volumes of Rawick's series also include ex-slave interviews housed in other archives. These volumes are available in the Main (Gardner) StacksSupplement, Series 1 is available in the Stacks and from NRLF. Supplement, Series 2 is available in the Stacks.  There is also a name index for this resource and a subject index.  The print volumes have also been digitized.

Anthologies containing selections from the Library of Congress collection include the Federal Writers' Project's Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery, edited by B. A. Botkin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945) and Voices from Slavery (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970), edited by Norman R. Yetman.

Additional resources: