Articles and Essays

  • An Introduction to the WPA Slave Narratives The Slave Narrative Collection, a group of autobiographical accounts of former slaves, today stands as one of the most enduring and noteworthy achievements of the WPA, Compiled in seventeen states during the years 1936-38, the collection consists of more than two thousand interviews with former slaves, most of them first-person accounts of slave life and the respondents' own reactions to bondage. This introductory essay, ...
  • Voices and Faces from the Collection The narrative excerpts presented here are a small sample of the wealth of stories available in this online collection. Some narratives contain startling descriptions of cruelty while others convey an almost nostalgic view of plantation life. These narratives provide an invaluable first-person account of slavery and the individuals it affected.
  • A Note on the Language of the Narratives The Slave Narrative Collection in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of narrative texts derived from oral interviews. The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of the people they interviewed, in accordance with instructions from the project's headquarters, the national office of the Federal Writers' Project in Washington, D.C.
  • Guide to Using the Collection This short guide provides background on the scanning process, notes legibility issues, and offers basic search tips.