Some federal information on the Web sheds a flickering light on past events that were at various times horrific, arduous, mundane, happy or triumphant. See Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938, which contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.

Historians employed by the Federal Writers' Project of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration collected the narratives in the 1930s, and assembled and microfilmed them in 1941. The online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs divisions of the Library of Congress.

To find the collection, go to the library's American Memory page at and check for slave narratives. A separate collection has audio interviews with 23 former slaves. The nearly seven hours of recordings, made in nine Southern states, provide an important glimpse of what life was like for slaves and freedmen.

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