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Slavery and the Making of AmericaPicture of a plantation house near Social Circle, Georgia
Time and Place Slave Memories Resources The Slave Experience

The Slave Experience: Living
Intro Historical Overview Character Spotlight A Year in the Life Personal Narratives Original Docs
Personal Narratives Living Conditions
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Personal Narratives

Interviewee: Joe McDonald
Interviewer: Ruby T. Lomax

JM: Yeah. I was raise in the house with him.

RTL: Mr. F. M.

JM: Mr. F. M., and uh, they taught me mighty good, they teach me good. They said, I remember, says, "Joe?" I say, "Yes sir." "When we are dead and in heaven," they said," we wants to raise you as an intelligent nigga. We wants you to have good friends like we have got." Say, "You'll never be scratched by good rich, sensible white folks because they can tell who you are by your raising and your compliments. That show that you been raised," he said, "not by the colored but by the white." I washed and ironed. Some days I'd wash a hundred pieces. Some, every morning I'd have five beds to make up, five fires to mix, and the childrens to dress and churning to do. And after that, well then I'd have some parts of the day. But I had all that to do every day. Raised right up in the house, you know, I, I, I remember telling one story. You know they, now, I slept like in this room in here and they slept ajoining rooms to me, you know, Say, "Joe, if you get cold come in our room by the grate." [recording gets stuck and repeats]

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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