Ex-slave Narratives and WPA Interviews

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Background – Read the backgrounds on the slave interviews and narratives from the two sites that will be used in this lesson. These backgrounds can be read by the teacher and presented to students as part of the introduction to this lesson or read by the students. The readings are

    1. Reading the Narratives from American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
    2. An Introduction to the Slave Narrative from North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920


Opening - This lesson will be taught using two web sites. These sites contain interviews and narratives of slaves' lives. The interviews were written in the 1930's. The narratives were written in the 19th century. The American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology web site contains audio file clips from one of the interviews. To introduce students to this lesson, play selections from this audio file.


Part I Reading and Research

Part II Using the Research

Each student will annotate his or her interview or narrative. The annotation should be a long paragraph and should include information from the document analysis form. Some of the items students should be sure to include are;

  1. Interview - Who was the interviewer?  Who was the interviewee?
  2. Narrative - Who was the narrative about? Who wrote the narrative? Who published the narrative?
  3. When it was written?
  4. Why was the document written?
  5. A summary of the document contents
  6. A description of the source in terms of it historical accuracy

Students could annotate their interview or narrative by completing the following template.

Center for Technology and Teacher Education, University of Virginia, This module was created by John K. Lee University of Virginia