Slave Narratives (EAD Finding Aid)
The Slave Narratives titled: Opinions Regarding Slavery (1822-1865) is an original manuscript collection created and compiled by Professor John Brother Cade, Sr. The Southern University Library is named in honor of John B. Cade.
The earliest of these endeavors to secure interviews with ex-slaves was initiated in 1929 under private auspices, when separate and independent projects were simultaneously begun at Fisk University and Southern University. He reluctantly left Southern University for Prairie View College to become Registrar and Director of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a position he held from 1931-1939.
The collecting of interviews did not start with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as many believed. The first study, at Southern University, was directed and compiled by John B. Cade during the years of 1929-1930 whose interest in the utilization of the accounts of slaves was initially aroused by the controversy over the nature of the slave regime and, in particular, by remarks reportedly made by Dr. U.B. Phillip; who reportedly stated that “Negroes for the most part did not mind slavery.” The 1929 set of narratives which were compiled at Southern University were destroyed. A preliminary study conducted at Southern during the years 1929-1930 was expanded during the early years of the depression under Cade’s direction, and the results of those interviews were later summarized in Cade’s article “Out of the Mouths of Ex-Slaves.” There were thirty-six interviewers in this project who interviewed approximately 125 former slaves.