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[Detail] Bill and Ellen Thomas, Ages 88 and 81

The Slave Trade and Slave Auctions

Some of the interviews in the collection mention family members who were brought to the United States in the Atlantic slave trade.  Read the interview given by 87 year-old John Brown of West Tulsa, Oklahoma, as he recounts the enslavement of his grandmother in West Africa.  In what ways does the narrative support historical accounts of the slave trade?  Compare this account with that given by Richard Jones. How are the two accounts similar? How do they differ? Overall, do the two accounts support each other's accuracy or call that accuracy into question? Explain your answer.

A number of the interviews describe the trauma of being sold at auction.  Will Ann Rogers relates a story told by her mother about what happened when she was auctioned in Richmond, Virginia:

. . . When they sold her, her mother fainted or drapped dead, she never knowed which.  She wanted to go see her mother lying over there on the ground and the man what bought her wouldn't let her.  He just took her on.  Drove her off like cattle, I recken.  The man what bought her was Ephram Hester.  That the last she ever knowed of any of her folks.  She say he mated 'em like stock. . .

From "Interview with Rogers, Will Ann," image 73

Read recollections of slave auctions in the interviews with the former slaves listed below.  What data about the sale of slaves can you gather from these stories? What inferences can be drawn from these stories?