American Slave Narratives:
An Online Anthology

A Note on the Sources

The narratives are collected in a 41-volume series entitled The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. These volumes include two original series (Series One and Series Two), two volumes of interviews conducted by Fisk University in the 1920s, and two supplement series (Supplement Series One and Supplement Series Two). The interviews in Series One and Series Two (vols. 2-17) were transcribed on manual typewriters in the 1930s. These 16 volumes were not typeset in the early 1970s, but simply photocopied and bound. The reproduction quality is sometimes poor. The type is varied and the clarity is uneven.

The Fisk interviews (vols. 18-19) seem to have been retyped in the 1970s. The type is consistent and the reproduction quality is good. The Supplement Series One (12 vols.) and Supplement Series Two (10 vols.) were also retyped, and like the Fisk volumes the type quality is quite good./P>

Where photographs were unavailable, I have used an illustration by Georgia artist Drew Galloway. Galloway's rendering is intentionally ambiguous, leaving the gender, color, and age of the subject open to question.

In addition to the published slave narratives, the Library of Congress has recently made available additional narratives in the WPA Life Histories series within the American Memory Homepage on the Web. These first-person narratives include many interviews with former slaves. Like the rest of the American Memory collection, these narratives are key-word searchable.

It seems clear that SGML tagging will benefit this project. I want my readers to be able to search the narrative collection, and SGML allows for spelling variants within searches, a function that these narratives require.

Return to Index

Return to Home Page

Send comments and suggestions to Bruce Fort

Last revised: July 2, 1998