The Voices of Slavery: Formerly Enslaved People Tell Their Stories


By Lydia Chebbine


Editor's Note: The personal narratives included in this photo essay are presented verbatim from the "Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project." Some include graphic language no longer considered appropriate today. We are publishing excerpts for historical context.


Betty Simmons recalled the day she was freed. Mary Crane spoke about the slave trade. Andrew Goodman recounted the painful torture he witnessed.


These are some of the more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery from the "Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project," which was created between 1936 and 1938. The autobiographical accounts of people across 17 states, paired with 500 black-and-white photographs, provides a unique portrait of U.S. history available online through the Library of Congress.


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