Slave Narratives of the Federal Writers' Project: A Major Help for Tracing African-American Ancestry,
 Part 2, By Al Hester

 Part 1 of my Blog of Dec. 28, 2013, on this topic discussed the "treasure trove" of information awaiting those who dig into the 1930's slave narrative interviews now online from the Library of Congress in American Memories  (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snthml/.)

There are more than 2,300 interviews with ex-slaves discussing their memories of slavery.

These narratives, while having many short-comings, do possess a wealth of information about the slaves themselves, their family history, and where they lived in the late 1930s when they were interviewed. The interviewers used structured interview questions in their conversations with the ex-slaves. Some interviews are more complete and interesting, but all may contain helpful information for the study of black family history and culture. Some of the interviews reveal the backgrounds of white interviewers and what they thought would interest people about ex-slaves.

The ex-slaves frequently use the "N-Word," as they commonly did  in referring to their own race generations ago. This term is not censored in the narratives. White interviewers did not use it in their own descriptions of African Americans.

For all their shortcomings these interviews can be of great help to African Americans wishing to hunt facts about their U. S. ancestors. Researchers, black or white, can find these narratives quite useful, even if their own families are not found. The best way to explore the materials is to go online and use the key-word search abilities involving the text to find out about specific persons or specific geographic areas. There are also hundreds of photos of aged ex-slaves, although most interviewers didn't take photos. A few interviews include audio interviews, although they are often difficult to understand, using primitive recording devices.

Content details aren't discussed here, but a list of some 62 ex-slaves from the Athens, Georgia, area is given, helping Internet users to find out about black ancestors.  Print editions of the slave narratives are frequently found in major public libraries or university libraries. World Cat online (hthtttp://www.worldcat.org) lists these and their library locations.

To use the list, look at it on the Home Page of the Library of Congress American Memories Home Page, and find persons or subjects of interest to you. Then using the Library of Congress' slave narratives online, you can find the entire interviews, read them, and see photos or hear audios—if these are existing. The Gutenberg Project ((http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19446/19446-h.html, also has copies of these ex-slave narratives. Both the Library of Congress and Gutenberg's materials are in the public domain and free to use.

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Here is the alphabetical list of Athens area ex-slaves interviewed in the Federal Writers Project.  
 Name of Ex-Slave, Approx. Age, Athens or Area  Address, if known , and Source of Information

Adams, Rachel 78 300 Odd St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Baker, Georgia 87 369 Meigs St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Battle, Jasper 80 112 Berry St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Bolton, James 85 Oglethorpe County GA Supplement, LOC slave narratives
Bradley, Alice 72 Hull St., near corner of Hoyt St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Brown, Easter 78 1020 S. Lumpkin St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Castle, Susan 78 1257 W. Hancock Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Cofer, Willis 78 548 Finley St.Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Colbert, Mary 84 168 Pearl St.  Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Cole, John 86 On Billups St. (also photo) Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Cole, Julia 78 169 Yonah St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Colquitt, Kizzie 76 243 Macon Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Colquitt, Martha 85 190 Lyndon Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Davis, Minnie 78 237 Billups St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Derricotte, Ike 79 554 W. Hancock Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Dillard, Benny 80 Corner Broad & Derby Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Elder, Callie 78 640 W. Hancock Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Furr, Anderson 87 298 W. Broad St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Garey, Elisha Doc 76 258 Lyndon Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Green, Alice 76 156 Willow St.  Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Harris, Dosia 78 159 Valley St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Hawkins, Tom 75 163 Bremen St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Heard, Bill 73 475 Reese St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Henry, Jefferson Franklin 78 Athens, but not specific Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Henry, Robert 82 Billups St. (also photo) Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Hill, John 74 1525 W. Broad St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Hudson, Carrie 75 258 Lyndon Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Hudson, Charlie 80 258 Lyndon Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Huff, Easter 80 125 Rockspring St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Hunter, Lina 90 270 Bailey St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Hutcheson, Alice 76 165 Rockspring St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Jackson, Mariah [Maria] no age given no address given From Al Hester's Memories of Athens book
Jefferson, Franklin Henry Rev. in Athens, but no specific address Library of Congress Slave narratives
Jewel, Mahala 76 177 Berry St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Johnson, Georgia 74 1537 W. Broad St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Kinney, Nicey 86 R. F. D. #3 Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Larken, Julia 76 693 Meigs St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
McCommons, Mariam 76 164 Augusta Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
McIntosh, Susan 87 1203 W. Hancock Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
McWhorter, Pitt Thurmond's Story Untold book
McWhorter, William 78 383 W. Broad St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
McCree, Ed 76 543 Reese St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Parkes, Anna 86 150 Strong St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Pope, Alec no age given 1345 Rockspring St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Raines, Charlotte no age given Oglethorpe County, GA Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Sheets, Will 76 1290 W. Broad St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Shepherd, Robert 91 386 Arch St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Singleton, Tom 94 1&1/2 mi. out of town; nr. Brooklyn area  Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Smith, Georgia 87 286 Augusta Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Smith, Nancy about 80 129 Plum St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Smith, Nellie 78 660 W. Hancock Ave. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Smith, Paul 74 429 China St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Telfair, Georgia 74 R. F. D. #2, Box 131 Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Thomas, Cordelia 80 150 Berry St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Upson, Neal 81 450 Fourth St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Van Hook, John F. 76 Newton Bridge Rd. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Vinson, Addie 86 653 Dearing St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Virgel, Emma 73 1491 W. Broad St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Wilbanks, Green 77 347 Fairview St.  Library of Congress Slave Narratives
Willingham, Frances 78 288 Bridge St. Library of Congress Slave Narratives

 

Picture
This photo is in the Slave Narratives of the Library of Congress. It's the dwelling of a "black Seminole" family in Brackettville, TX, taken in the 1930s-1940s. Seminole Indians had black slaves who sometimes became tribal members. While most photos in the narratives are of individual slaves, some show their churches, residences or other features. Photo: Library of Congress.
Craig Crosby
9/30/2014 05:32:34 am

Slave narrative of Athen's resident, Lorenzo W. (Walter) Reed (Reid) was written by Sadie B. Hornsby in 1939. Heis the son-in-law of reconstruction legislator, Alfred Richardson. I am a dependent through Richardson's daughter, Laura Richardson Reid.

Reply
9/30/2014 06:27:12 am

Lorenzo W. Reed (Reid) 243 Bridge

http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/03709/id/782/rec/1

Reply
SAV
10/24/2014 05:23:27 pm

Thank you for updating this with the Lorenzo Reid narrative. He is a family member of mine and to read, in his own words, about his life and my extended family is beyond words.

Reply
Craig Crosby
11/10/2014 12:13:26 am

SAV, Which daughter/son of Lorenzo are you a decendent? Louise Johnson Reid is my grandmother.

Craig Crosby
10/25/2014 05:34:00 pm

SAV, I am a descendant of Lorenzo Walter Reed as well. His daughter, Louise, is my grandmother. She is the one that moved to Columbus, Ohio and had 3 kids. My mother is the third of the three kids. Seva, I would love to connect with you..

Reply
Craig Crosby
10/25/2014 05:42:07 pm

Lorenzo Reid has a grandson that is still alive, Charles Reid. He is 102 years old. My mother is still living as well at 83.

Reply
Craig Crosby
10/30/2014 04:37:04 am

SAV, Hopefully we can connect. We are related and I know so few of the Reid family, as stated above.

Reply
Craig Crosby
11/8/2014 11:57:33 pm

SAV,
I would love to connect with you as we are family in the Richardson-Reid tree. Ccrosby@nu.edu

Reply
Craig Crosby
4/16/2015 03:31:37 am

SAV, My new email is ccrosby51@yahoo.com

Reply

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