When I first started reading the narratives, it was a little difficult to follow because of the grammar and the way they spoke back in that time period. I have never read anything like these stories before. You are always taught about slaves and the war in school, but we never had to read narratives like this that come straight from the people’s perspective. I think the strengths of the oral histories is that you get to read what it was like straight from the people that experienced it. You get more emotions in the stories because they lived through it. I like how in many of the narratives, it was like they were telling a story. They had many details because they were asked open-ended questions and could go into detail about what they experienced.
I think it is very interesting how the experiences of the slaves are different. For example, Mary Anngady was a slave, but she was one of the lucky ones. She was taught her ABC’s by her master’s daughter and was given a spelling book by her miss’s Bettie. Her family was given many privileges. They had plenty to eat and clothes. They also attended church and was given religious books and even played with the white children. But for Louisa Adams it was a different story. For her and her family, they worked all day and got hardly any food. They had to steal food or eat what they made in the garden. They only got one pair of shoes for the year and if you wore them out you had to go barefoot. Her brother wore his shoes out and had to go barefoot in the winter and had cracks in his feet so bad that he bled.
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I agree, I hadn’t read any narratives with this type of dialect before these. I found it very interesting because I could pronounce what the interviewees were saying in my head, so it made it sort of fun to decode! I also agree with you that oral histories make the content much more meaningful. The details that the ex-slaves exhibited were very real and that makes the topic much more substantial, in my opinion. I was also surprised about how different the slaves were treated. Mary Anderson’s master did not believe in whipping his slaves and they got a big breakfast on Sundays for their hard work throughout the week, yet Louisa Adams and her family were treated like animals without even suitable clothing. I wonder why some masters were completely different!
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