Read Slave Narratives

Dorothy I. Height/Benning Library

Read Slave Narratives

What was being a slave in the United States really like?  This database has links to more than 4,000 interviews with former slaves in the 1930s. The stories cover both what it was like to be a slave and what it was like to be free.  Here are some excerpts:

“One instrument of torture is worthy of particular description. This was an oak club, a foot and a half in length and an inch and a half square. With this delicate weapon she would beat us upon the hands and upon the feet until they were blistered.”  
–Lewis Clarke

“I had been in jail but a short time when I heard that my master was sick, and nothing brought more joy to my heart than that intelligence. I prayed fervently for him—not for his recovery, but for his death.”               –William W. Brown

Read more slave narratives.