These anecdotes were recorded as part of the WPA slave narratives, a collection of histories by formerly enslaved people undertaken by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration from 1936 to 1938, part of FDR’s New Deal. The interviews have significant limitations, including the power imbalances between the mostly white interviewers and the mostly poor, Black interviewees, the length of time between the end of slavery and the time of the interviews, and the fact that many interviewers chose to record the interviews using stereotypical Black dialect. However, many scholars conclude that these narratives remain essential to accessing information about the daily life and experiences of enslaved individuals.
Recordings were produced for the Fredericksburg Area Museum’s exhibition A Monumental Weight: The Auction Block in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Recorded at at the CRRL IdeaSpace with local voice actresses Gladys Perkins and Ashleé James.
Mrs. Armaci Adams, born 1859, interviewed in Hampton, Virginia on June 25, 1937.
Bethany Veney, from The Narrative of Bethany Veney, a Slave Woman, published in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1889.
Mrs. Fannie Berry, born in 1841, interviewed in Petersburg, Virginia on February 26, 1937.
Mrs. Katie Blackwell Johnson, born around 1860, as told to her interviewer in Washington County, Virginia.
Mrs. Louise Jones, born 1855. Interviewed in Petersburg, Virginia on February 12, 1937.
Delia Garlic, age 100 when interviewed in her home at 43 Stone Street, Montgomery, Alabama on June 9, 1937.
Fannie Brown, born 1851, resided at 226 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, Virginia at the time of this interview in the 1930s.
Mrs. Patience Avery, born 1863, interviewed in Petersburg, Virginia on March 19, 1937.