Source Information

Works Project Administration. Slave Narratives [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
Original data: Works Project Administration. Federal Writers Project. Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Washington, D.C.: n.p., n.d.

About Slave Narratives

The wealth of what is available in the Slave Narratives database is overwhelming. Here are cowboys, field hands, and domestic workers offering everything from folk superstitions to songs, and recipes to religion.

The Thesaurus Filter allows searching by colloquial keywords without knowing exactly what those words are (i.e. entering "master" will return results which include "master," "massa," "mas," etc. Note: This feature only works with "Keyword" search)

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Below you will find topics of interest to many of our users. Please select a category below.
  • Voting
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  • Famous Personalities
  • Religious Experiences
  • Ghost Stories
  • War Stories
  • Folk Medicine, Herbs

    Perhaps no other resource approaches the range of human experience found in Ancestry.com's Slave Narratives. The collection contains over 20,000 pages of type-scripted interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, an effort began at Fisk University in Tennessee and Southern University in Louisiana to document the life stories of these former slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934 and from 1936-1939, the Federal Writer's Project (a federal work project that was a part of The New Deal) launched a coordinated national effort to collect narratives from former slaves.

    This database provides a poignant picture of what it was to live as a slave in the American South. This collection is the most complete available picture of the African-American experience with slavery. There is simply no other historical document quite like it.