WHAT IS Remembering Slavery?

Many years after the Civil War had ended, those survivors who had once been slaves were interviewed by a variety of scholars and researchers. (In the 1920s, scholars, particularly from African-American colleges, began interviewing former slaves, a project taken up again in the 1930s by the Federal Writers Project. Another group of scholars inspired by the FWP began tape-recording their interviews with former slaves.) Accounts of many of those interviews were set down on paper, and some were tape-recorded. Those transcribed and taped interviews, totaling tens of thousands of pages, are collected in the Library of Congress, and in state archives and university manuscript collections.

The radio series, produced by Smithsonian Productions and the Institute of Language and Culture and heard on affiliate stations of Public Radio International, compiles excerpts from many of these interviews. It provides a unique opportunity for listeners everywhere to discover these vital historical resources and their singular first-hand perspective of slavery. The book and tape package, published by the New Press, expands upon these taped interviews with many more additional transcribed narratives, organized into five sections each centering on a major theme. The Learning Guide is designed to enhance your experience of reading and/or listening to the interviews, making it a more thought-provoking, informative, and personally enriching activity. The entire Remembering Slavery project enables us to hear how former slaves describe - - in their own words - - what it was like to be a slave - - and to be free.