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The Use of Oral History in Historical Text: The WPA Narratives

Azuka Nzegwu


Authenticity and accuracy are highly contested issues among historians, especially when dealing with the ex-slave narratives. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal agency created the Federal Writers’ Project during the 1930s as an oral history initiative. The purpose of the Federal Writer’s Project was to document the experiences of ex-slaves. The essay analyzes the ways the stories of former enslaved men and women were recorded and represented. At the center of the debate are questions about agency and oral literacy.


Slave Narratives; Slavery; WPA; History; Documentation

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ProudFlesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics and Consciousness. ISSN: 1543-0855 (online).
Editor: Dr. Sonjah Nadine Stanley-Niaah.

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