1937-1938: Portraits of African-American former slaves



We honor 150 years since the abolition of slavery in the United States. On Jan. 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in the country.

These portraits of black American men and women who had been slaves were taken in the late 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) of the Work Progress Administration (WPA). They are part of a group of 500, together with more than 2,000 first-person accounts of the experience of being a slave.

The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) operated during the Great Depression of the 1930s and tasked unemployed writers cross the USA with collecting the life stories of Americans across society. This particular set of pictures and testimonies was published in 1941 as the seventeen-volume “Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.” Read more…

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