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

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  18 reviews
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 experien ...more
Paperback, 355 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by The New Press (first published October 1st 1998)
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Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have the book and cassette edition which includes actual recordings of interviews with former slaves. The book is beautifully written, but pales in comparison to the voices rough with age and obviously recorded at the end of these incredibly important living historical figures lives.
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"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
Michelle Marie
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: if you want to hear the voices of real slaves
Shelves: audio-books
I think it is amazing how they have restored their records from the the 1940's of real freed slaves. On the back it said that for decades the recordings were so fragile that no one could listen to them and that alone made me want to is like thinking of a book with a lock on it. I listen to accounts of men and women who are over one hundred years old. They were all amazing and they deserve respect.
Charles Finch
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the most interesting and heart-wrenching books I've ever read. The dialect of the narratives of former slaves is occasionally distracting, but the stories shine through.
Nicole Marble
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Some topics need a first hand report rather than interpretation. And this is one of the best sources for what it was like for some American slaves. A must read.
Roger DeBlanck
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Remembering Slavery is an invaluable collection of interviews recorded as part of the WPA’s efforts in the 1930s to preserve the testimonies of the last living generation of American slaves. These recollections capture the pain, horror, confusion, sorrow, and injustice committed against enslaved blacks during the two and a half centuries of institutionalized slavery. These interviews are also testaments to the courage, resilience, and strength of the men and women who survived and defied the inh ...more
Leah Henderson
Definitely worth a read. To learn about the pasts of those often not recognized as men, women or children is truly humbling.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book contains firsthand accounts of what it was like being a slave in the United States. The stories were compiled in the early 1930s. Chilling stories at times....
Nathan Albright
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2020
During the 1930's, an act of oral historiography was undertaken in which a variety of researchers were sent out to preserve the vulnerable and threatened knowledge and culture of illiterate African Americans whose history and culture had not previously entered into the American record to a great degree. To be sure, minstrel shows and stories about blacks had been relatively well known (and some of these, like the Uncle Remus stories and Gone With The Wind, remain popular), but accounts of blacks ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

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 p
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everyone in the US needs to read this.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction
I truly enjoyed this book. I expected it to be dry and depressing, and while it is harsh and at times infuriating, I was constantly inspired. I don't know if I can explain why. Maybe it's simply because these are ex-slaves, still bearing the scars of brutality, telling their stories 80+ years later. Survivors whose same feet that were not given shoes during winter can now walk on the graves of those who brutalized and de-humanized them.

It's disappointing that thousands of these interviews were s
Dan Gorman
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some of the historians for the Federal Writers' Project transcribed their interviews with former slaves in egregious, minstrel show-like dialect. So you need to be prepared for that, up front, when reading this book. Despite that caveat – a lot's changed since the Great Depression – the stories in this book are POWERFUL. Thank goodness people went out and talked to these former slaves while they were still alive. Clearly these men and women had stories they wanted to share. My one real reason fo ...more
Jacob Stewart
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It definitely opened my as to what slavery was like in the south. I always thought they were all treated terribly, granted awful things did happen to slaves, but out of the people who were interviewed there were a few that were treated well. So much so that they say they had a better life then than they do now.

What I also enjoyed about it, was that it was a fast reader because, there was a new story about the former slaves lives about every 15 pages or so. People that
Elizabeth Merchant
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: our-library
"Always took his text from Ephesians, the white preacher did, the part what said, 'Obey your masters, be good servant.' Can't tell you how many times I done heard that text preached on. They always tell the slaves that ef he be good, an' worked hard fo' his master, dat he would go to heaven, an' dere he gonna live a life of ease. They ain't never tell him he gonna be free in Heaven. You see, they didn't want slaves to start thinkin' 'bout freedom, even in Heaven."
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely mesmerizing. The individuals have the most beautiful spirits. Their stories are their own and are filled with their divine nature, their intuition, their love, their pain, and their visceral life.
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've finished two books regarding slavery this month. This was actual first-person memories of what it was like to live in slavery--taken from interviews done in the 1920s and 1930s. Fascinating! Certainly impacted my reading of the book about John Brown--Cloudsplitter.
Stacie Christensen
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Feb 25, 2020
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A historian of American slavery, Ira Berlin earned his BA in chemistry, and an MA and Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and Federal City College in Washington, DC before moving to the University of Maryland in 1974, where he was Distinguished University Professor of History. A former president of the Organization of ...more

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