Excerpts from Slave Narratives

The National Humanities offers a look at how the slavery of an individual began on their Master/Slave page. This section lists readings related to the slave narratives that show how slaves were treated when they were stolen from their home countries.

The Middle Passage contains a slave narrative that’s often been repeated. The Middle Passage was the name of a slave ship that brought slaves from Africa to America. The experiences described on this ship were similar to those experienced by others on different ships.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is regarded as one of the most important slave narratives. The man wrote out his own narratives, carefully describing the conditions he faced every day and the lives of those around him. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth is another interesting read because the author focused on her life as a woman serving as a slave, as well as her fight to later end slavery in the US.

Emma Crockett-Slave Narrative was nearly eighty when she recorded her slave narrative. She spent much of the project discussing her life as a girl born into slavery and raised into adulthood in that world. She also focused on her family and how her parents attempted to make her life as best as they could.

Another interesting slave narrative was the one done by Walter Calloway. He was already nearing his teen years when he and his entire family was sold into slavery. He discusses the beatings he suffered at the hands of his master and the problems his mother had in keeping the whole family together.

The narrative of Lucinda Davis is also an interesting read because the woman stayed at her master’s plantation even after the Civil War began. Other slaves there escaped and headed north and Davis was the only one who stayed. She mentions feeling like her masters were her family and not being sure if she could leave them.

Following the Civil War, life became even harder for slaves. The Arkansas Slave Narratives list several stories of former slaves experiencing violence and discrimination following the Civil War. Some of those stories include Postwar Violence, Postwar Violence and Reconstruction Policies, and Reconstruction Politics.

The lives of slaves just after the Emancipation Proclamation was passed was also discussed quite a bit by former slaves. Some of the best stories are those by Jackson Cherry, Jourdan Anderson, Samuel Thomas, and Harriet Tubman. These stories show what the former slaves experienced after the Civil War, with some seeing violence firsthand as it happened to them or their loved ones.

Contemporary Slave Narratives contains stories of people sold into modern day slavery. Many people assume that slavery ended with the Civil War, but this is only true in the United States. In other countries, people are still sold into slavery and passed from owner to owner. This project hopes to document the stories of those people and show how they escaped that life.