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Collection Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938

Guide to Using the Collection

This short guide provides background on the scanning process, notes legibility issues, and offers basic search tips.

The digitized documents included in Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 were scanned in 2000-2001 from microfilmed reproductions of typewritten documents or microfilmed images of carbon copies of those documents.  Scanning directly from the originals, now housed in bound volumes, posed insuperable challenges including potential damage to the materials. The legibility of both the original documents and the microfilm images depends on many factors: the amount of ink on the typewriter ribbon used, the type of paper used, whether or not the document is a copy, and variations in the quality of the microfilmed images. When a page was illegible or missing from the microfilm, a facsimile of the original page was created by transcribing the document and scanning the copy. There are approximately fifty facsimile pages (out of 9,686) in the online collection; these pages are clearly marked.

To find items in this collection, search by name of narrator, informant, or keyword.  Be sure to try variant spellings as names have not generally been normalized.  Searchable text for the collection was generated using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software on the digitized typescript images.