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Slave Narratives

Identifier: MSS 0154

Content Description

The Slave Narratives Collection contains 45 first-person accounts of former slaves conducted during the 1930s in Galveston County, Harris County, and Jefferson County, Texas and 55 black-and-white photographs. Administrative files include correspondence between Works Progressive Administration interviewers and their supervisors.


  • 1930s


Conditions Governing Access

As a preservation measure, researchers must view the reference set of photocopies of the correspondence and narratives in this collection rather than the originals.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from Slave Narratives Collection must be obtained from the African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

The Federal Writers Projects was a program created in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration, later renamed Work Projects Administration (WPA). To alleviate unemployment struggles of the depression, the program provided jobs to unemployed writers, editors and researchers. From 1936 to 1938, writers were sent to four states (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia) to conduct interviews with former slaves. In 1937 the interviews were expanded to include more states.


1.2 Linear Feet (2 doc boxes, 2 negative boxes) : 1 linear ft textual materials, 55 photographs

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into three series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Narrative; Series III: Photographs

The correspondence series is arranged chronologically by date. Narratives are arranged by county, then each narrative is organized alphabetically by surname. Some narratives include photographs that are arranged by photo identification numbers. Originals are in Box 1 and photocopies are in Box 2.

Transfer Note

These records were formerly housed at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library as MSS 154 Slave Narrative Collection and were transferred to the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library in February 2019.

Related Materials

For access to additional slave narratives, visit the Library of Congress American Memory Project Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938

Condition Description

The condition of these documents is mostly good. The paper within the box is very thin, so some of the papers are torn or slightly wrinkled. The photographs are encased in plastic, most of them are stapled to description cards from the WPA. They are for the most part in good condition. Some of them show discoloration and some rust from the staples.

Processing Information

Processed by Sheena Wilson, 2019
MSS 0154 Slave Narratives Collection
An inventory of records at the African American Library at the Gregroy School, Houston Public Library
Sheena Wilson
November 20, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script

Repository Details

Part of the Gregory School Repository


The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002