In the late 1930s, the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration embarked upon a project to interview 100 former American slaves. The result of that unique undertaking is this collection of authentic firsthand accounts documenting the lives of men and women once held in bondage in the antebellum South. In candid, often blunt narratives, elderly former slaves recall what it was like to wake before sunrise and work until dark, enduring whippings, branding, and separations from one’s spouse and children, suffer the horrors of slave auctions and countless other indignities, and finally to witness the arrival of Northern troops and experience the first days of ambiguous freedom. Included here are vivid descriptions of good masters and bad ones and treatment that ran the gamut from indulgent and benevolent supervision to the harshest exploitation and cruelty. These and many other unforgettable — sometimes unspeakable — aspects of slave life are recalled in simple, often poignant language that brings home with dramatic impact the true nature of slavery. Accompanied by 32 starkly compelling photographs, the text includes a new preface and additional essay by Norman R. Yetman, a specialist in American studies. A valuable resource for students and scholars of African-American history, this thoroughly engrossing book will be of great interest as well to general readers.