One might speculate that the Arkansas slave narratives provide a depth that other state narratives lack. Rowe, Earl D. “The Federal Writers’ Project in Arkansas, 1935–1942.” MA thesis, University of Arkansas, 1990. Lomax’s successor, Benjamin A. Botkin, became chief editor of the Writers’ Unit of the Library of Congress. “My feets make a noise on de cinders tween de rails, but he doan make a mite o’ noise.” Anderson asked the man—who she declared to Frost to be a “hant”—to go away, by saying, “Lookee here, Mister, I jes an old colored woman, an I knows my place, an I wisht you wouldn’t walk wid me counta what folks might say.” The man went away, as bidden. Your monthly donation provides ongoing and predictable support we can count on to fund educational and cultural programming for the patrons, communities, and neighborhoods being served by CALS. Thomas Nelson Page wrote as early as 1904: “That the ‘old-time Negro’ is passing away is one of the common sayings all over the South … he will leave a gap which can hardly be filled.” The white rush to collect “pure, authentic” black expression, which hit the worlds of folklore, literature, and music in the interwar years, was actually a reflection of the racism of the time. When reading, it is crucial to understand the perspectives of the individuals involved in the creation of the WPA slave narratives. The narratives these UDC interviewers collected, “featuring stories of slaves who preferred to remain in bondage out of love and fealty to former masters,” were of the type that were later circulated as curriculum in the Florida public school system, reinforcing myths about the Confederacy increasingly popular in the decade that produced Gone With the Wind. Even though these stories from ex-slaves are of worth, it is good to know the advantages and the disadvantages of using these interviews for research. A writer’s prerequisite for employment (there were exceptions) was the pauper’s oath and a means test. WPA Slave Narratives aka: Slave Narratives. The Everetts told Randolph what happened when news of emancipation reached the plantation where they were held. After he whipped them, they would put their rags on and go on about their business….He would whip the women the same as he would the men.” Ninety-year-old Sallie Crane of Wrightsville (Pulaski County) remembered being “whipped from sunup till sundown….They kept a bowl filled with vinegar and salt and pepper setting nearby, when they had whipped me till the blood come, they would take the mop and sponge cuts with this stuff so they would hurt more. Botkin gathered the narratives, inventoried and sorted them, and placed them into the Library of Congress archives. Additional support provided by the Arkansas Community Foundation.
Interviews with former slaves were undertaken spontaneously after the inception of the FWP and were included among the activities of several Southern Writers' Projects for almost a year before these isolated and unrelated efforts were transformed into a concerted regional project coordinated by the Washington office. It was nothing I done; they just whipped me.” H. B. Holloway, age eighty-nine, of Little Rock told interviewers that, “Old Myer Green would take a nigger and tie his feet to one side of a railroad track and tie his hands to the other side and whip him till the blood ran. On file in the Washington office in August, 1939, was a large body of slave narratives, photographs Simply go to, click “Create an Account” to sign in, and select CALS Foundation as your organization to support. 1 On August 31, 1939, the Federal Writers’ Project became the Writers’ Program, and the National Technical Project in Washington was terminated. White Americans of the 1930s were quite familiar with a particular genre of minstrelsy and plantation literature, like the Joel Chandler Harris “Uncle Remus” stories, which perpetuated stereotypes about black people while supposedly reporting on black folk culture. These narratives are constantly used for study. I sat right down to the same table after they was thru. And that is valuable beyond measure. The Writers' Unit of the Library of Congress Project process- es material left over from or not needed for publication by the state Writers1 Projects.
Typewritten records prepared by the Federal Writers’ Project 1936-1938. Most had known slavery only in childhood or youth. Just how much the interviewer was able to record, how much was left out, and how much the interviewer interpreted after the fact is also debatable. And they came up with a number of explanations for why they feel that ex-slave informants are slurring their words, or speaking differently, or leaving endings off certain words.” Stewart points out that in some instances these ways of speaking were “part of kind of a Southern regional dialect, much more than they are any kind of indication of a racialized identity.” But in their discussions about dialect, white personnel would hypothesize about the connection between this kind of speaking and a supposedly ingrained laziness. The largest part came from Arkansas, where interviewers found someone from every slave state. One of our largest surviving bodies of testimony about slavery are the 2,300 Depression-era oral histories of elderly ex-slaves, gathered by workers like Frost, who were employed by the federal government as part of the Works Progress Administration. This was fascinating and interesting, but also extremely depressing as it's overhung with such pervasive skepticism and accusations of racism when it came to the WPA's project. Or, sign up for Kroger Rewards and a portion of your purchases at Kroger will be donated to the CALS Foundation. Why would Anderson tell a visiting researcher a ghost story? Hits: 43 You are here» Home» WPA Slave Narratives» WPA Slave Narratives Typewritten records prepared by the Federal Writers’ Project 1936-1938. Twenty full-time and part-time Arkansas FWP interviewers worked under Babcock on the slave narratives, including Pernella Anderson, Bernice Bowden, Beulah Sherwood Hagg, Witt McKinney, Cross Peel, Irene Robertson, and Samuel Taylor (no roster of all employees is extant). (accessed September 8, 2020). Bearing Witness: Memories of Arkansas Slavery: Narratives from the 1930s WPA Collections. Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States (often referred to as the WPA Slave Narrative Collection) was a massive compilation of histories by former slaves undertaken by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration from 1936 to 1938. Once that was completed, Taylor went to work on the slave narratives. Major funding provided by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. chapter in the WPA guide to Washington, D.C.. Brown, Stewart writes, “tried to steer workers away from making bald assumptions about black character” based on their observations in the field. Black interviewers faced co-workers and supervisors who second-guessed their methods and their objectivity. Richardson eventually had an all-white staff fact-check all of the material that the state’s black interviewers produced. It should be remembered that the Federal Writers’ Project is not interested in taking sides on any question. But we can’t always have our ruthers. Despite many obstacles, Randolph and other interviewers managed to get stories like the Everetts’ into the historical record. Launched on April 1, 1937, in the FWP’s second year, the national program commenced under Lomax’s supervision in the Folklore Division by directing seventeen states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) to seek out and interview ex-slaves. Records of the interviews show that some interviewers didn’t explain their presence, leaving the people whose houses they were visiting to arrive at their own conclusions about the visitors’ intentions. Additional support provided by the Arkansas General Assembly. In 1929, Fisk University and Southern University had graduate programs conducting ex-slave oral histories, followed soon after by Prairie View State College.