American Slavery: Never-Before-Seen Photos of Former Enslaved Blacks


Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of abolition of slavery, these new photographs have been released of men and women, telling the stories of their former lives as slaves. Originally taken in the late 1930s, just 70 years after the signing of the 13th Amendment, a book called Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves was released in 1941. In its 17 Volumes, the book depicted many of the 500 men and women who were interviewed.

In addition to the published books, many recordings were made which were proved instrumental in giving much more detailed (and unbiased) information about the original former slaves who were interviewed.

Some newly released photos show many former slaves photographed on the front steps of their homes, in their yards, or with their pets. All in black and white, each photo provides a name and status of the person shown, and some of them provide ages as well. Most of the slaves appear to be pleased to be free of their former burden of slavery. Mary Armstrong, Josie Brown, and Campbell Davis will all be remembered, among others, when they may have otherwise been forgotten.

More information can be found through an HBO special created in 2003 based upon the information obtained through the books, recordings and photographs.

Source: Library of Congress

Mollie Williams, age 84
Mollie Williams, age 84
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