Source Information U.S., Interviews with Formerly Enslaved People, 1936-1938 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data:

A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, 1936–1938. Vol. 1-17. Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration microfilm publication SCM 000 320, SCM 000 321, SCM 000 322, SCM 000 323, SCM 000 325, 5 rolls. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

About U.S., Interviews with Formerly Enslaved People, 1936-1938

As noted in the title this database contains slave narratives as collected by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. The work contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black and white photographs of the former slaves (be aware that some of the images are blurry). The volumes are organized by state and the beginning of each volume has an alphabetized list of the people interviewed in that state.

The wealth of information in the database is overwhelming. Cowboys, field hands, and domestic workers offer everything from folk superstitions to songs and recipes to religion. Documentation was begun by Fisk University in Tennessee and Southern University in 1929; Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934 until the task was included in the Public Works Administration Project in 1936 (as created by the New Deal). This collection is presented with the support of two societies, the Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago, Inc. and the Black Genealogy Search Group (Denver, CO).

For additional information as well as tips and help with this subject, please read Researching African American Ancestors.

Information in this index:

  • Surnames of interviewees
  • Birthplace
  • Age, approximate
  • Interview Location
  • Information this index MAY contain:

  • Photograph of interviewee
  • Personal History
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    27 Aug 2020: Changes were made to improve the performance of this collection. No new records were added.