The WPA Federal Writers' Project (FWP) of the late 1930's provides us with more than 2,300 first person accounts of former slaves. The slave narratives, with their autobiographical accounts, can provide insight into the institution, rich context, and clues for family research. But how can we use this rich resource? Can they be relied upon? Some of the questions we will discuss are: What is the history of the slave narratives?Before, during, and after the Civil War. When were they taken? Who were the interviewers? What are the limitations of the narratives? Where can I find the narratives? Offline and Online. How can they be used for research? Names of family members, names of plantations, owners, and their family members; birth, marriage and death information for individuals; context for daily life in particular places.
Ann Staley, CG, CGL, is an educator, consultant, and co-leader of Ann-Mar Genealogy Trips. She is on the faculty of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies; the Education Chair of the Jacksonville Genealogical Society, Inc.; Vice President of the Genealogical Speakers Guild; and Trustee of the Florida State Genealogical Society. Ann has authored several articles for the NGS Magazine and is the co-author of the NGS Research in the States Series-Florida. Her specialties are Methodology, Research Sources, Computer Resources, Vital Records and their Sources, and Conference Planning.