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Lynn Orilla Scott

Slave narratives are autobiographical accounts of the physical and spiritual journey from slavery to freedom. In researching her groundbreaking 1946 dissertation, Marion Wilson Starling located 6,006 slave narratives written between 1703 and 1944. This number includes brief testimonies found in judicial records, broadsides, journals, and newsletters as well as separately published books. It also includes approximately 2,500 oral histories of former slaves gathered by the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s. The number of separately published slave narratives, however, is much smaller. Although exact numbers are not available, nearly one hundred slave narratives were published as books or pamphlets between 1760 and 1865, and approximately another one hundred following the Civil War. The slave narrative reached the height of its influence and formal development during the antebellum period, from 1836 to 1861 During this time it became a distinct genre of American literature and achieved immense popularity ...


Graham Russell Hodges

The most influential work on early African American life in slavery and freedom is by Ira Berlin, who injected time and place as critical factors in the discussion of slavery and freedom among early African Americans. Carefully articulated in articles and in two books, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America and Generations of Captivity: A History of African American Slaves Berlin argues that studies of black life must be sensitive to when and where African Americans experienced bondage and freedom This segmented approach pushed aside older studies that tended to homogenize African American experiences over time and to focus largely on the antebellum South In contrast Berlin s work based upon his primary research and wide readings of newer texts points out the differences in African American lives over a long span of time and in different parts of the country Berlin ...