Betty Jones

In this excerpt, the interviewer records in their own words the background information provided by Betty Jones and also directly quotes her.  This short excerpt provides teachers the opportunity to help students navigate seeming contradictions within a primary source.  The interviewer states that Betty Jones “recalls no unkind treatment” but then Betty Jones herself describes the sorrow of her enslaved friends being sold.  Students may need background information on the WPA interviews and help considering the context of a White interviewer who had not experienced slavery discussing and recording the recollections of a formerly enslaved person.
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“Yes, Honey, I was a slave, I was born at Henderson, Kentucky and my mother was born there. We belonged to old Master John Alvis…” [Betty Jones answered.]

Betty Jones said her master was a rich man and had made his money by raising and selling slaves. She only recalls two house servants were [mixed race] … All the other slaves were black as they could be.

Betty Alvis [Jones] lived with her parents in a cabin near her master’s home on the hill. She recalls no unkind treatment.

[Betty Jones said,] “Our only sorrow was when a crowd of our slave friends would be sold off, then the mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends always cried a lot and we children would grieve to see the grief of our parents…”

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Betty JonesUnknown (Unknown)Lauana CreelJohn Alvis
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Vanderburgh County, ININHenderson, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Third Person, Slave Traders, Veteran or Widow