Gelatin-silver photographic prints, interviewees of the Slave Narratives Project, Texas, 1937-1938
The elderly informants of the Slave Narratives Project were children or young adults in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Some posed for portraits to accompany their oral histories, giving a face as well as a voice to their memories of life in bondage before the Civil War and their experiences after emancipation.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
The Slave Narratives Project - 2
Thousands of survivors of slavery recounted their lives to interviewers from the Federal Writers Project (FWP) in the late 1930s. The FWP was part of the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration, funded by Congress with the 1935 Emergency Relief Appropriations Act. This initiative employed writers, historians, and other scholars during the Great Depression to record the memories of formerly enslaved persons in seventeen states. Though edited and interpreted by the interviewers, these narratives—preserved by the Library of Congress—remain invaluable personal accounts of life in slavery.