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This collection from the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress presents digitized transcripts of interviews of former slaves, conducted under the auspice of the Federal Writers Project (FWP), a Depression-era Works Progress Administration program that put unemployed writers to work. Between 1936 and 1939, the FWP collected the life stories of ordinary people. In 1937, John A. Lomax, the curator of the American Folk Song Archive at the Library of Congress, became interested in the narratives of ex-slaves that were appearing, and directed field workers to concentrate on this material. This resulted in over 2,000 of these narratives in the Library of Congress collection, which were bound into seventeen volumes in 1941. Accompanying the digitized narratives are more than 500 photographs. Users can search the narratives by keyword, browse by narrator's name or volume, and search and browse the photographs. Since the digitized collection was made from microfilm of the bound volumes, it is necessary to do a separate search to see if there is a photograph of the narrator; text and images do not display simultaneously, except in the specially selected section, Voices and Faces from the Collection, where excerpts of eight narratives can be viewed along with a picture of each speaker.
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