Slave Narratives Research Guide
John Smith, age 108
North Carolina (c. 1936-38)
American Memory Project:
Born in Slavery
Ramsey Library Collections
Use the following Subject Headings in the library catalog to find out what slave narratives are available in the Western North Carolina Library Network:
Primary sources of slaves and ex-slaves may include diaries, letters, interviews, transcribed songs, and even recorded folklore.
Keyword searches using these words may yield additional books, recordings, and materials. For example: "African Americans and slave and interviews"
Interviews and Audio
WPA Interviews of the 1930s
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938. A joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, [2000?]
Presents more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. Provides links from individual photographs to the corresponding narratives. Collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the narratives were assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume work entitled Slave narratives: a folk history of slavery in the United States, from interviews with former slaves.
American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography. Ed. George P. Rawick, et al. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000.
(UNCA users only)
Contains the collection of over 2,000 interviews conducted in seventeen states between 1936 and 1938 under the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Progress Administration, as published in 1972 in The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography edited by George P. Rawick. The site contains a links to the narratives and Rawick's analysis of the collection, From Sundown to Sunup: The Making of the Black Community. Each entry links to an Adobe PDF version of the narrative as contained in the Rawick print collection, including any handwritten editorial comments made at the time.
Museum of the African Diaspora.
Dramatized recordings of slave narratives.
Audio Interviews, 1932-1975
Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories. From the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, [2004?]
Provides the opportunity to listen to former slaves describe their lives. These interviews, conducted between 1932 and 1975, capture the recollections of twenty-three identifiable people born between 1823 and the early 1860s and known to have been former slaves. Several of the people interviewed were centenarians, the oldest being 130 at the time of the interview.
Some key print collections of slave narrative include the following. You can also browse the shelves in the general collection, concentrating on the E441-E453 call number range on the upper floor of the library.
The American slave: a composite autobiography. UNCA GENERAL E441 .R38 (Available in print and online)
Biography of a runaway slave. UNCA GENERAL CT518.M6 A3313 1994
Documents illustrative of the history of the slave trade to America. UNCA GENERAL E441 .D69
Five slave narratives; a compendium. UNCA GENERAL E444 .F52
Great slave narratives : selected and introduced by Arna Bontemps. UNCA GENERAL E444 .B67
Pioneers of the Black Atlantic: Five Slave Narratives From the Enlightenment, 1772-1815. UNCA GENERAL E444 .P56
Romanticism and slave narratives : transatlantic testimonies. UNCA GENERAL PR448.S55 T48
Runaway slave advertisements : a documentary history from the 1730s to 1790. UNCA REFERENCE E446 .W73
Six Women's Slave Narratives. UNCA GENERAL E444 .S59
The slave narrative : its place in American history. UNCA GENERAL E444 .S8
Slave narratives. (online)
Slave testimony : two centuries of letters, speeches, interviews, and autobiographies. UNCA GENERAL E444 .S57
The slave ship : a human history. UNCA GENERAL HT1322 .R42
Twelve years a slave. UNCA GENERAL E444 .N87
Women and the family in a slave society. UNCA GENERAL E443 .W66
The WPA Oklahoma slave narratives. UNCA GENERAL E444 .W82
See also the following guide: Yale University Library Primary Sources Research