Southern University Debuts Online Archive of Slave Narratives

Southern University, the historically Black educational institution in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has announced that an extensive collection of slave narratives is now available to the public on the website of the university’s library. The collection is entitled “Opinions Regarding Slavery: Slave Narratives, 1822-1865.” It may be accessed through the library’s website.

The collection was assembled by John B. Cade Sr., a professor and dean at Southern University in the early twentieth century. Cade and a group of his students traveled throughout the South in the 1930s to interview former slaves. Each of the persons interviewed were asked to provide the following information:

  • Name of state and county in which they were slaves
  • Name or names of owners
  • The type of slaves which they were, that is, house or field slave
  • The home and family life of the slaves, especially marriage, etc.
  • The food of the slaves
  • Punishment of the slaves
  • The working conditions of the slaves
  • Amusements of the slaves
  • Religious life of the slaves
  • Superstitions and customs of slaves
  • How they liked slavery
  • Plus any other pertinent information which they could give.

The interviews were transcribed and the original handwritten documents have now been digitized for viewing online. Emma Bradford Perry, dean of libraries at Southern University, stated that “we are really excited and pleased to share the slave narratives with the scholarly community and look forward to working with those conducting research on this subject.”

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