In this primary source, Charlie Davenport, an ex-slave from
Mississippi, recalled his experience at the end of the Civil War from the
perspective of a freed slave. Charlie’s interview was part of the Slave
Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project. They were compiled in
1936-1938. The Library of Congress now contains more than 2,300
first-person accounts of former slaves. New Deal programs to counter the Great
Depression, Columnists and journalists travel throughout the American South
interviewing former slaves for the Works Progress Administration. As said
before more than 2,300 previous slaves were met, furnishing history specialists
with a fortune trove of essential wellsprings of slave encounters in urban
areas, on little ranches, and on plantations.

A combination of record keeping, as well as federal aid
from the U.S government, provided the perfect circumstances for this interview
to be published. In 
Chapter 7 Davidson and Lytle looks at the some of the challenges in examining the history of people
who exist on the fringes or in the lower classes of society. Because
of their position in society, slaves did not leave many written records of
their own. What was written about them at the time of slavery was told from the
point of view of the southern white society that had enslaved them, or the
northern white society that was faced with integrating the former slaves
through reconstruction while at the same time dealing with their own adherent
biases. For example, an interview with an elderly former slave by the name
of Susan Hamlin. Her portrayal of slavery as not being as harsh of
other slaves causes some historians to question the credibility of the source,
such as is this woman feeling coerce since the interviewer in question is
white?  I believe that Davidson and Lytle bring up this issue
because Susan statements could be used by some southerners that slave
owners were not harsh on their slaves. But the matter of fact is slavery as an
institution causes these issues to be very complex. Susan’s statements just
show how more complex the dynamic was during that time.

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