Tuesday, March 31, 2009

History Websites

This is a post originally from a couple of years ago, updated with a new find at the bottom:

Some of my favorite websites are those that feature interviews with black people who were former slaves or who lived under segregation. For future reference, I'm going to make a list of the websites that I've come across over the past year or so.

Most fascinating of all is the Library of Congress's Voices From the Days of Slavery, which has several interviews recorded with actual former slaves. This Washington Post story gives a good idea of what the recordings are like.

The Virginia Center for Digital History sponsors what it call the "Esmont Oral History Project. No former slaves, but several interesting interviews with elderly black people about their lives during segregation.

The Hampton Roads Daily Press in Virginia does the same here.

The University of Southern Mississippi (and you can't get much more southern than that) has the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. This website has easily more than a hundred interviews conducted from the 1970s to the 1990s -- not just with black folk, but also with some of the white folk who stood in the schoolhouse door, so to speak. Only a few of the interviews are available in audio format; most are available only as a transcript.

The Texas Council for the Humanities has a website called "Parallel and Crossover Lives: Texas Before and After Desegregation, which features quite a few transcripts of interviews with black people who went through desegregation. No audio files, unfortunately, just transcripts.

Finally, on a slightly different note: Here is a website from the University of North Carolina that contains the texts of over a hundred autobiographical books or pamphlets written by whites and blacks about their experiences in the Civil War, in slavery, etc. The website is called "First-Person Narratives of the American South." Some are very disturbing, such as "The New Slavery in the South-- An Autobiography: by A Georgia Negro Peon."

This one, by contrast, looks immensely entertaining just from the title alone, which I reproduce here in full:
The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez,

Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army.

In Which Is Given Full Descriptions of the Numerous Battles in which She Participated as a Confederate Officer; of Her Perilous Performances as a Spy, as a Bearer of Despatches, as a Secret-Service Agent, and as a Blockade-Runner; of Her Adventures Behind the Scenes at Washington, including the Bond Swindle; of her Career as a Bounty and Substitute Broker in New York; of Her Travels in Europe and South America; Her Mining Adventures on the Pacific Slope; Her Residence among the Mormons; Her Love Affairs, Courtships, Marriages, &c., &c.
Check out the picture on that webpage.

Anyone know of other websites like any of the above?

UPDATE: Here are a few more:

Duke's "Behind the Veil" project has a few audio clips. That project was discussed in this radio program.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has numerous video clips of interviews with civil rights activists, as does the Virginia Civil Rights Movement Video Initiative.

American RadioWorks sponsors the "Remembering Jim Crow" project here.

The Kentucky Oral History Commission has lots of interviews available here. This program on the anniversary of Brown was interesting.

UPDATE 2: The University of North Carolina has a new project called Documenting the American South, with a huge variety of historical materials available. Relevant to this post are the 500 or so interviews collected here, with both audio and transcripts.


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