Narratives and WPA Interviews
K-12 Objectives | Materials
Assessment | Related
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
the Narratives from American
Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
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,
selections from this audio file.
Part I Reading and Research
Part II Using the Research
- Step 1 Select interviews or narratives for your students to
read. The reading choices can be based on your students’ interest or
content related objectives. The interviews are annotated, but the narratives
are not. If you have a particular content objective who may want to
review the Annotated
list of interviews. Narratives are listed
alphabetically. If your interest is in students' historical skills,
the choice of interviews and narratives may not be as important.
- Step 2 Assign each student one interview or narrative. Explain
the historical context of the readings before the students begin. The
interviews may reflect a very narrow slice of life among slaves in America.
They were also conducted over sixty years after slavery ended. The narratives
were written for publication in the popular and the abolitionist press.
This information should be taken into account by students as they read.
The introductions to the web sites listed in the background portion
of this lesson will help students understand the respective contexts
of the documents.
- Step 3 Analyze the document. This analysis should be done using
the document analysis form. This form has
questions relating to the content and the historiography of the document.
By analyzing the content and historiography at once, students will be
able to think historically on content related a subject. The content
analysis portion of the form relates to the National History Standards
construct of historical understanding. This historiography analysis
portion relates to the National History Standards construct of historical
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;
- Interview - Who was the interviewer? Who was the interviewee?
- Narrative - Who was the narrative about? Who wrote the narrative?
Who published the narrative?
- When it was written?
- Why was the document written?
- A summary of the document contents
- 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