From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. These former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms. Their narratives remain a peerless resource for understanding the lives of America's four million slaves. What makes the WPA narratives so rich is that they capture the very voices of American slavery, revealing the texture of life as it was experienced and remembered. Each narrative taken alone offers a fragmentary, microcosmic representation of slave life. Read together, they offer a sweeping composite view of slavery in North America, allowing us to explore some of the most compelling themes of nineteenth-century slavery, including labor, resistance and flight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief. This web site provides an opportunity to read a sample of these narratives, and to see some of the photographs taken at the time of the interviews. The entire collection of narratives can be found in George P. Rawick, ed., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972-79
American FactFinder is a site on the Internet that is developed and maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau. A recent addition provides quick and very useful access to demographic fact sheets, thematic maps, and information briefs for a significant selection of general, social, economic and housing characteristics down to citywide, individual zipcode, census tract, block group and block levels.
Since the mid 1980s, the United States has undertaken aggressive law enforcement strategies and criminal justice policies aimed at curtailing drug abuse. The costs and benefits of this national war on drugs are fiercely debated. What is not debatable, however, is its impact on black Americans. Ostensibly color blind, the war on drugs has been waged disproportionately against black Americans. Our research shows that blacks comprise 62.7 percent and whites 36.7 percent of all drug offenders admitted to state prison, even though federal surveys and other data detailed in this report show clearly that this racial disparity bears scant relation to racial differences in drug offending. There are, for example, five times more white drug users than black. Relative to population, black men are admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is 13.4 times greater than that of white men. In large part because of the extraordinary racial disparities in incarceration for drug offenses, blacks are incarcerated for all offenses at 8.2 times the rate of whites. One in every 20 black men over the age of 18 in the United States is in state or federal prison, compared to one in 180 white men.
The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The first release of the Douglass Papers, from the Library of Congress's Manuscript Division, contains approximately 2,000 items (16,000 images) relating to Douglass's life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant. The papers span the years 1841 to 1964, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895. The printed Speech, Article, and Book Series contains the writings of Douglass and such contemporaries in the abolitionist and early women's rights movements as Henry Ward Beecher, Ida B. Wells, Gerrit Smith, Horace Greeley, and others. The Subject File Series reveals Douglass's interest in diverse subjects such as politics, emancipation, racial prejudice, women's suffrage, and prison reform. Scrapbooks document Douglass's role as minister to Haiti and the controversy surrounding his interracial second marriage. The online release of the Frederick Douglass Papers is made possible through the generous support of the Citigroup Foundation.