Dr. Norrece Jones
                                                                   Slave Narratives

    Dr. Norrece Jones from Virginia Commonwealth University   spoke abut the problems with dealing with slavery and race in the classroom or museum setting.  He urged us not to let this  deter us from this important conversation.  To understand slavery, we must understand race,  and dealing with race is very controversial.   The slave narratives are good materials to bring an exciting body of investigation into the learning situation that will involve the student.

    There are over 6,000 accounts in existence from slaves and ex-slaves.  About half come from before the Civil War and about half  after the war.  African American scholars began to gather stories from blacks who lived around historically black institutions, but the bulk of the narratives came from the Works Progress Administration  project in the 1930's.  John Blassingame’s 1972 Slave Community used these narratives.  George Rawrick placed these narratives in 40 volumes between 1972-1979.

    The slave narratives are best source we have to study enslaved Americans.  No group of bond people in the world has left such a record of their bondage.  They provide a balance to the distortions of slavery by white scholars in the post-slavery era.

    All historical sources have problems, but black sources seem to have their legitimacy questioned more than white.

The narratives do present a set of issues, and they need to be noted when studying:

Post-war narrative problems

        One of the narratives discussed was The Life of a Slave Girl by Linda Brent/Harriet Jacobs.  Dr. Jones  used it to discuss the way to have our students evaluate manuscripts.