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Bullwhip Days: The Slaves Remember: An Oral History

4.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  157 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration commissioned an oral history of the remaining former slaves. Bullwhip Days is a remarkable compendium of selections from these extraordinary interviews, providing an unflinching portrait of the world of government-sanctioned slavery of Africans in America. Here are twenty-nine full narrations, as well as nine sections of exce ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published December 12th 2001 by Grove Press (first published December 1988)
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Oct 09, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was published in 1988, but it is not out-dated obviously, as it shares the voices of 29 former slaves, plus a myriad of other voices excerpted in themed sections. Very readable, even with much of the narrative in dialect, which gives a rhythm and flow to the stories. The selected narratives show a range of experiences under slavery, from those who loved and were more-or-less well-treated by their "masters" and those who were not. Those who were well-treated were certainly aware of how ...more
Mar 16, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing
Fascinating accounts, very nice variety. I think this would be a great book for high schoolers studying slavery, the civil war, and reconstruction.

One issue: It is an oral history, but I think the transcriptions of the accents and dialect are problematic. Why transcribe "poor" as "pore"? Is there really a difference between the pronunciations "colored" and "culurd"? A couple of the transcriptions are written in standard English - but surely there was southern pronunciation there too. I feel lik
Apr 09, 2013 Gregg rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-awereness
The concept of having a title proving ownership of another person runs so counter intuitive to our belief to self autonomy, that our moral senses rebel. Also when you think that people thought they had the God-given-right to own humans, further confuses ones psyche. I tend to read 3 or 4 books back to back on some subject to get a good feel for the material. This book was one in a series of the slave narratives I picked out. The others books were, Remembering slavery, Voices from slavery, and Un ...more
Oct 09, 2007 Nahliah rated it really liked it
Just started it yesterday. It's a collection of interviews of former slaves conducted by participants in the Workers Progress Administration during the Depression. The interviews have been divided into thematic sections. Some of these interviews I've encountered before and some were present in another book on my list- The White Image in the Black Mind. . . .

Finished the book more than a week ago. I really liked it and some very interesting ideas came up. One was the relationship between religion
Jul 18, 2011 J rated it it was amazing
(FROM JACKET)By the mid 1930s, of the four million slaves freed at the close of the Civil War, only a few thousand survived. Aware that the memories of these former slaves were an incomparable resource of American history, the Federal Writers' Project, an adjunct of the Works Progress Administration, dispatched interviewers to seek out and compile the actual life stories of these individuals. Between 1934 and 1941, these interviewers-men and women, blacks and whites-recorded nearly two thousand ...more
Jan 23, 2015 William rated it it was amazing

This is one of the most important books I have read as an American adult male of African decent. American slavery will forever be a blight on her history. The effects of slavery and Jim Crow can still be seen and felt today. As a young black man from the great state of Mississippi, I was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who were born in the Jim Crow south (Mississippi & Alabama) who did not teach me about race. I didn't know I was black until the third grade. The one negative aspect

Feb 22, 2011 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a product of the Federal Writer's Project. It is an awesome collection of interviews and research on slave life. Powerful!
Apr 22, 2010 Rose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivid, honest but startlingly detailed. One of the best books I've read in a while.
Sep 23, 2014 Komesia added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Emotionally heart wrenching. Glad I read it
Darren Davis
Dec 10, 2015 Darren Davis rated it it was amazing
Fantastic historic book....
Feb 05, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology-race
Gripping, written from interviews done by WPA writers during the 30's of former slaves still living. While sometimes the editorial commentary (often introductions or descriptions) had shades of bias reflective of that time and the fact that the writers were predominantly (if not all) white, the writers did a great job of getting the words down, even with efforts to include the particular dialect or nuacnes of language of the speakers. A quick and easy read that is worth the effort.
Sep 19, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
A diverse oral history that highlights the savagery, kindnesses, laughter, and sheer breadth of slavery in the United States' history. If you live in the South, you will find an account here that ties back into your own back yard.

If read with a historian's eye, this book is a treasure trove - war accounts, farming techniques, work songs, worship songs, the KKK, and more. If teaching a historiography course, this could offer plenty of material for students to explore.
Aug 21, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful collection that delivers, in full detail, slaves' varied and unforgettable perspectives of slavery. I appreciated the juxtaposition of longer narratives with brief excerpts and quotes, and the inclusion of both positive and negative recollections of such an important period in America's history. Beyond individual slaves' stories, this book provides a remarkable sense of the struggle encountered by all when little support was provided after emancipation.
Apr 24, 2010 Mariah rated it it was amazing
This collection of oral histories includes shocking and tender accounts of slavery told by former slaves. Mellon keeps the original dialect when he can, making it so that sometimes it makes more sense if you whisper it to yourself. There is no doubt about the inhumanity of slavery when you read this collection of primary resources.
Feb 03, 2009 Nate rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended - a WPA project in the 1930s to interview all americans who had lived through slavery. All first hand accounts. The book is divided into two parts - the first half is longer general personal histories, the second half is broken up into categories (food, work, church etc) with multiple shorter brief targeted passages
Haley Whitehall
Sep 23, 2011 Haley Whitehall rated it liked it
I bought this book for research. While it was helpful the topical layout was hard to follow. I was also hoping for more information on each subject listed in the book. Many of the over 400 pages said the same thing. However, if you are looking for a primary source on slavery this is worth a read.
Nov 20, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it
Really important histories and narratives but not giving 5 stars because I'm not sure I agree with some of the editorial choices made and also took me a really long time to get through.
Nov 29, 2008 Thsms rated it really liked it
Compliments any book on the Civil War, slavery documentaries, and the like. The book gives interviews of actual slaves..very interesting, insightful and sometimes alarming.
Mar 04, 2014 Jbondandrews rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book. So very wonderfully written and very touching and so much pain that was suffered by such wonderful brave people.
Jan 27, 2009 Deena rated it liked it
This is always a good one to make students think about the relative source value of oral testimony - and contemporaneous sources.
Shavon Harris
Oct 27, 2012 Shavon Harris rated it it was amazing
Everyone should have this book in their personal library.
Jul 23, 2013 Nicca rated it it was amazing
Excellent Read- I think a MUST for EVERYONE !!!!!!!!
Geoff Smith
Jun 01, 2013 Geoff Smith rated it it was amazing
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