In the late 1930s, the federal government embarked on an unusual project. As a part of the Works Progress Administration's efforts to give jobs to unemployed Americans, government workers tracked down 3,000 men and women who had been enslaved before and during the Civil War. The workers asked them probing questions about slave life. What did they think about their slaveholders? What songs did they sing? What games did they play? Did they always think about escaping?
The result was a remarkable compilation of interviews known as the Slave Narratives.
This book highlights those narratives―condensing tens of thousands of pages into short excerpts from about 100 former slaves and pairs their accounts with their photographs, taken by the workers sent to record their stories.
The book documents what slaves saw and remembered, and explains how they lived. It is an eye-opening account that details what it was like to be a slave―from everyday life to the overwhelming fear they harbored for their lives and for the lives of their family and loved ones. Their stories are clear and stirring.