Teaching Materials
Ask a Master Teacher
Lesson Plan Gateway
Lesson Plan Reviews
State Standards
Teaching Guides
Digital Classroom
Ask a Digital Historian
Tech for Teachers
Beyond the Chalkboard
History Content
Ask a Historian
Beyond the Textbook
History Content Gateway
History in Multimedia
Museums and Historic Sites
National Resources
Website Reviews
Issues and Research
Report on the State of History Education
Research Briefs
Best Practices
Examples of Historical Thinking
Teaching in Action
Teaching with Textbooks
Using Primary Sources
TAH Projects
Lessons Learned
Project Directors Conference
Project Spotlight
TAH Projects
Technical Working Group
Research Advisors
Teacher Representatives
Quiz Rules
Teaching History.org logo and contact info

Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories

Photo, Contraband of War, Hilton Head, S.C., May, 1862

This site captures the recollections of 23 former slaves, born between 1823 and the early 1860s. Several of the people interviewed were more than 100 years old. In the recordings, subjects discuss their entire lives, not just their lives as slaves, but they provide an important glimpse of what life was like for slaves and freedmen. They discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, how slaves were coerced, their families, and, of course, freedom.

Each of the 23 subjects' testimony is presented in four formats: Real Audio sound, MP3, Windows WAV, and transcription. Many of the subjects sang as part of their testimony; those songs are collected here, as well.

Visitors should not miss the Faces and Voices from the Presentation section, where photographs and short biographies are posted for seven of the subjects. The father and grandfather of one of the subjects, George Johnson, were owned by Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Johnson shares his recollections of Davis.

This site contains extraordinary primary sources, and is a tremendous resource for research into slavery and Reconstruction.