The Wpa Oklahoma Slave Narratives by T. Lindsay Baker, Julie P. Baker, Photos, United States Work

By T. Lindsay Baker, Julie P. Baker, Photos, United States Work Projects Administration

Those are attention-grabbing tales of the stories of ex-slaves, fourteen of that have by no means been released sooner than. even if many African americans had relocated in Oklahoma after emancipation in1865, a number of the interviewees have been slaves of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, or Creeks within the Indian territory.

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The Wpa Oklahoma Slave Narratives

Those are interesting tales of the stories of ex-slaves, fourteen of that have by no means been released earlier than. even though many African american citizens had relocated in Oklahoma after emancipation in1865, many of the interviewees have been slaves of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, or Creeks within the Indian territory.

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193437 Page xiii Preface "We have a whole box full of Oklahoma freedmen's narratives that nobody has ever done very much with. " That question from an archivist with an underused collection prompted this project to compile and publish remembrances of Oklahoma blacks who had been born into slavery. The two of us, who were not looking for any new projects, were at the Archives and Manuscripts Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society in spring 1990 researching another topic. When archivist William D.

E. 4th in Oklahoma City, sucking on lemon-drop candies. Hard of hearing and losing his eyesight, he visited with Oklahoma Writers' Project reporter Ida Belle Hunter. After telling her about his memories of slavery on a Mississippi plantation, he unexpectedly asked, ''How old are you? " Then he asked his daughter to bring him a drink of water and to help him off the porch and into the house. Octogenarian Lizzie Farmer was living in servants' quarters behind a home "in the better residential district" of McAlester, Oklahoma.

Botkin selected over 11 percent of his narratives and extracts from the Oklahoma interviews when he prepared a book based on the WPA collection, Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery, in the 1940s. His judgment was con- (footnote continued on the next page) Page 15 (footnote continued from the previous page) firmed in 1970 when the historian Norman R. Yetman identified narratives from Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas as far superior to those in the other states' collections. Fifteen percent of the narratives he identified as "the finest" in the entire Library of Congress collection came from Oklahoma.

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