Back to Top

c. 1930s

Portraits of former slaves, taken 70 years after abolition

Photos tell the story of a painful past

When the 13th amendment to the U.S. constitution became law in 1865, slavery in America was officially abolished. However, its presence in the nation was far from over. And these portraits of men and women bear testament to that fact.

More than 500 such portraits were taken in the 1930s during the Great Depression under the auspices of the Federal Writers Project, a New Deal program designed to keep writers at work. The photos are of African Americans who had been slaves in the South, some as very young children.

The pictures were published in 1941, together with firsthand testimonies from the men and women in Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, which ran to 17 volumes.

Felix Haywood, San Antonio
Library of Congress
Betty Bormer, Fort Worth
Library of Congress
Elijah Cox
Library of Congress
Bill McRay, Beaumont, Texas
Library of Congress
Priscilla Gibson, Jasper, Texas
Library of Congress
Lula Wilson, Dallas
Library of Congress
Jas. Boyd, Waco, Texas
Library of Congress
John Smith, Waco, Texas
Library of Congress
Adeline Cunningham
Library of Congress
La San Mire, Beaumont, Texas
Library of Congress
Ben Kinchelow, Hondo, Texas
Library of Congress
Lucy Chambers, Karnack, Texas
Library of Congress
Pauline Grice, Fort Worth
Library of Congress
Betty Simmons, Beaumont, Texas
Library of Congress
Martin Jackson, San Antonio
Library of Congress
William Homer, Fort Worth
Library of Congress
Mose Hursey, Dallas
Library of Congress
Rose Fay, Brackettville, Texas
Library of Congress
Litt Young Marshall with slave horn
Library of Congress
William Green, San Antonio
Library of Congress

Watch this

Owning a Dog May Lower Risk of Early Death

see more from
More
>