The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography - Vol. 1

The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography - Vol. 1

The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography - Vol. 1

The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography - Vol. 1

Excerpt

In the collection of slave narratives housed in the Rare Book Room of the Library of Congress and published by Greenwood Press in 1972 as volumes 2 through 17 of The American Slave, the largest collection for any state was that for Arkansas. The Arkansas collection was not only the largest but the richest in terms of content.

The several hundred pages of Arkansas narratives in this Supplement, Series 2, and a small number of Arkansas narratives from the Archive of Folk Song collection in the Library of Congress published in volume 2 of Supplement, Series to The American Slave, add considerably to the importance of the Arkansas collection. Moreover, because most of the black people in Arkansas in 1937, when the interviews were written, had moved to that state from all the other southern states after the end of the Civil War, this collection offers a particularly rich sample of slave experience from throughout the south. Scholars interested in slavery in any southern state would do well to consult the Arkansas collection.

Furthermore, this collection of Arkansas narratives is noteworthy because it contains several long narratives that were not in the original RBR collection. Two in particular, those of Scott Bond and Charles Williams, are more the beginnings of full-length autobiographies than write-ups of interviews.

From internal evidence it appears that Scott Bond actually dictated his autobiography rather than simply responding to questions. A very successful man, Bond wanted to leave a record of his achievements and his personality.

Charles Williams actually wrote his autobiography in pencil in a series of small notebooks. The notebooks are housed with the slave . . .

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