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Slavery and the Making of AmericaPolitical caricature depicting black and white men and women interacting
Time and Place Slave Memories Resources The Slave Experience

The Slave Experience: Men, Women & Gender
Intro Historical Overview Character Spotlight Slave Clothing Personal Narratives Original Docs
Personal Narratives Men, Women & Gender
Photo of Fountain Hughes
Photo of Fountain Hughes
Credit: The Jeffersonian
'Boys lived quite different from the way they live now' - Fountain Hughes
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Personal Narratives
Fountain Hughes
Interviewee: Fountain Hughes
Interviewer: Hermond Norwood

HN: You talk about how old you are Uncle Fountain. Do you, tell how far back do you remember?

FH: I remember [pause]. Well I'll tell you, uh. Things come to me in spells, you know. I remember things, uh, more when I'm laying down than I do when I'm standing or when I'm walking around. Now in my boy days, why, uh, boys lived quite different from the way they live now. But boys wasn't as mean as they are now either. Boys lived to, they had a good time. The masters di, didn't treat them bad. And they was always satisfied. They never wore no shoes until they was twelve or thirteen years old. And now people put on shoes on babies you know, when they're two year, when they month old. I be, I don't know how old they are. Put shoes on babies. Just as soon as you see them out in the street they got shoes on. I told a woman the other day, I said, "I never had no shoes till I was thirteen years old." She say, "Well but you bruise your feet all up, and stump your toes." I say, "Yes, many time I've stump my toes, and blood run out them. That didn't make them buy me no shoes." And I been, oh, oh you wore a dress like a woman till I was, I [be-believe [?] ten, twelve, thirteen years old.

HN: So you wore a dress.

FH: Yes. I didn't wear no pants, and of course didn't make boys' pants. Boys wore dresses. Now only womens wearing the dresses and the boys is going with the, with the womens wearing the pants now and the boys wearing the dresses. Still [laughs].

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) sponsored a federal project dedicated to chronicling the experience of slavery as remembered by former slaves and their descendants. Their stories were recorded and transcribed, and this site presents dozens of select sound recordings and hundreds of transcriptions from the interviews. Beyond the content of the interviews, little to no biographical information is available on the individuals whose interviews appear here.


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