Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation

In 1998, The New Press published Remembering Slavery, a book-and-tape set that offered a startling first-person history of slavery. Using excerpts from the thousands of interviews conducted with ex-slaves in the 1930s by researchers working with the Federal Writers’ Project, the astonishing audiotapes made available the only known recordings of people who actually experienced enslavement—recordings that had gathered dust in the Library of Congress until they were rendered audible for the first time specifically for this set.

Remembering Slavery received the kind of commercial attention seldom accorded projects of this nature—nationwide critical and review coverage as well as extensive coverage on prime-time television, including Good Morning America, Nightline, CBS Sunday Morning, and CNN. Reviewers called the set “chilling … [and] riveting” ( Publishers Weekly ) and “something, truly, truly new” ( The Village Voice ).

Now the groundbreaking book component of the set is available for a new generation of readers.

Book Details
Ira Berlin (Editor)
Book Format:
Publication Date:
01 Apr 2000
  • B Corp
  • Black Owned
  • Gives Back
  • Veteran Owned
This book is very inspirational and informative! I was hooked from the beginning and was so eager to keep reading.
This is a collection of spoken memories chronicled from former slaves. It stems from work done by the Federal Writers Project in the late 1930's to collect the memories of former slaves, who at that point were very elderly. These transcripts were brought together for the purpose of this book with audio recordings in the Library of Congress. The book is organized into thematic chapters, such as 'family life and slaves' and 'Civil War and the coming of freedom', and there are old black and white pictures of some of the slaves whose memories are transcribed in the book.

There are all kinds of memories caught here, from work to games to family life. The most frequent theme is the cruel beatings inflicted upon these people, who had no legal protection nor recourse. The earlier transcriptions and now this book are vital components of documenting an evil system that treated people as property.
This is one of the most emotionally draining books I've ever read. The real accounts of people who were enslaved are compelling and distressing. For any student of history, of the Civil War, of the slave-holding South, this is a must-read.
Everyone in the US needs to read this.
"When I was a little girl about five or six years old, I used to sit on the garret, the front porch. In the Mississippi Delta the front porch is called the garret. I listened to my Papa Dallas. He was blind and had these ugly scars around his eyes. One day, I asked Papa Dallas what happened to his eyes.

'Well daughter,' he answered, 'when I was mighty young, just about your age, I used to steal away under a big oak tree and I tried to learn my alphabets so that I could learn to read my Bible. But one day the overseer caught me and he drug me out on the plantation and he called out for all the field hands. And he turned to 'em and said, 'Let this be a lesson to all of you darkies. You ain't got no right to learn to read!' And then daughter, he whooped me, and he whooped me, and he whooped me. And daughter, if that wasn't enough, he turned around and he burned my eyes out!'

At that instant, I began to cry. The tears were streaming down my cheeks, meeting under my chin. But he cautioned, 'Don't you cry for me now, daughter. Now you listen to me. I want you to promise me one thing. Promise me that you gonna pick up every book you can and you gonna read it from cover to cover. You see, today, daughter, ain't nobody gonna whip you or burn your eyes out because you want to learn to read. Promise me that you gonna go all the way through school, as far as you can. And one more thing, I want you to promise me that you gonna tell all the children my story.'"
Worth Every Penny!
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