One of the goals of this project is to collect as many source documents as possible that pertain to slavery in Kentucky, the initial focus of our series. Perhaps the most powerful of these are the first-person testimonials of the enslaved themselves.
Unfortunately, there are no known audio or video recordings of formerly enslaved Kentuckians, but there were numerous print interviews that were done in the 1930s, some by African American scholars affiliated with Fisk University, most by writers and folklorists associated with the WPA Writers’ Project.
In the search tool below, you can access excerpts from these oral histories, with links available on each page to the complete transcript of that interview.
Interview Context and Dialect
Most of the oral histories featured on the Reckoning website come from the WPA Slave Narratives collection. Between 1936 and 1938, the Federal Writers’ Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), collected over 2,300 first-person accounts of enslavement. Though these are oral histories, teachers should be highly conscientious about the context within which these narratives were collected and transcribed.
Read more about teaching with WPA narratives here.