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 is an instructor, consultant, trip leader and a lecturer at local, state and national conferences. Raised in Mobile, AL, Ann has been researching her family since 1980 from Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia to France, England, and Germany. She is the Education Chairman and Webmaster for the Jacksonville Genealogical Society, Inc.; the Secretary of the Genealogical Speakers Guild; a trustee of the Florida State Genealogical Society; on the faculty of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies; and has been an associate of the Board for Certification of Genealogists since 2000.