Belle Robinson

The interviewer chose to recount Belle Robinson’s story in the first person after a brief introduction.  In this excerpt, Mrs. Robinson describes the little she remembers about life as an enslaved person, which she refers to as “the slave days.”  Teachers may need to help students interpret this account which presents a rather benign view of slavery by noting the Belle Robinson’s age when she was enslaved, how much time had passed since then, and the context of the interview.
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I [the interviewer] found Aunt Belle sitting on the porch… When I went to her and told her who I was and the reason for my visit her face beamed with smiles and she said “Lordy, it has been so long that I have forgotten nearly everything I knew”… Aunt Belle tells me:

…I was born June 3rd, 1853… Harrison Brady bought me from Ole Miss Nancy Graham and when Mr. Brady died and his property was sold Mrs. Brady bought me back; and she always said that she paid $400 for me. I lived in that family for three generations, until every one of them died. I was the only child and had always lived at the big house with my missus. I wore the same kind of clothes and ate the same kind of food the white people ate. My mother and father lived at the cabin in the yard and my mother did the cooking for the family. My father did the work on the farm with the help that was hired from the neighbors. I was too young to remember much about the slave days, but I never heard of any slaves of the neighbors being punished. My missus always took me to the Baptist Church with her. I do not remember any preacher’s names or any songs they sang.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Belle Robinson1853 (Unknown)Eliza IsonNancy Graham, Harrison and Mrs. Brady
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Garrard County, KYKYLancaster, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Garrard County, ReligionFirst Person, Dialect, Sold