Soul of a People: The Slave Narratives of the Federal Writers' Project

For Immediate Release:
August 25, 2009
Contact: Paul Smith
Soul of a People: The Slave Narratives of the Federal Writers' Project

 The Kansas City Public Library welcomes American Studies scholar Norman Yetman for a presentation called Voices from Slavery: The FWP Slave Narrative Collection on Thursday, September 3, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.  


Among its most noteworthy achievements, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) conducted more than 2,000 interviews with former slaves in 17 states from 1936 to 1938. These oral histories offer first-hand accounts of slave life in the United States and personal reactions to bondage. Virtually forgotten for decades, the Slave Narrative Collection was rediscovered in the late 1960s, marking a major turning point in the historical understanding of American slavery as well as the people who endured and survived it.


This presentation offers an in-depth look at these oral histories and traces their influence in popular culture, from their rediscovery to the present day.


Yetman is Emeritus Chancellors Club Teaching Professor of American Studies and Sociology at the University of Kansas. His publications include When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection as well as Voices from Slavery: Selections from the Slave Narrative Collection and Majority and Minority: The Dynamics of Race and Ethnicity in American Life.


Admission is free. Call 816.701.3407 to indicate your interest in attending or you may RSVP online. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage located at 10th and Baltimore.


This event is part of Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story, a six-week series of eventsat the Kansas City Public Library that commemorates the 75th anniversary of this New Deal program with speakers, film screenings and a focus on important writers – like Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Saul Bellow – who joined its ranks.


Soul of a People programs at the Kansas City Public Library are sponsored by the American Library Association Public Programs Office with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities: great ideas brought to life.

Kansas City Public Library Beta