Slave Narratives

North American Slave Narratives

Literary works that describe the experiences of enslaved African Americans have become collectively known as slave narratives. Thousands of these narratives have been collected and published, as have individual memoirs written by former slaves. A number of these resources are now available online.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has a brief overview of slave narratives that can be viewed for free.

The Washington State University website has a good explanation of the slave narrative, general information about these documents, and further resources to explore the topic.

Documenting the American South is a collection of slave narratives maintained by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The database is searchable alphabetically or by subject. Full text of the documents as well as scans of the original images can be viewed.

An Online Anthology of American slave narratives has been made available by the University of Virginia. The index of narratives provides a picture and brief summary of the full text to make it easier for visitors to choose the narratives that are applicable to their research or interests.

The Federal Writers' Project was part of the New Deal programs created in the 1930s. People were hired to write down the memories of former slaves and to photograph the speakers. More than 2,300 accounts were given of life as a slave. This collection allows the visitor to search and read some of these accounts.

The Free Library has a lesson plan created around the slave narratives collected by the people working for the Federal Writers' Project.

This site provides audio interviews of former slaves discussing their lives on plantations as well as the songs that were sung.

PBS has an interactive website that has a number of slave narratives as well as audio files and photographs. Further resources and information are also available on this site.

This collection of narratives also has a lesson plan for teachers to utilize. Excerpts are provided, as well as links to the original sources.

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