Author: Claude W. Anderson

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Interview with Cornelius Garner” (Unknown, May 18, 1937)

Cornelius Garner, a man born into slavery, tells two interviewers from the Virginia Writers Project about his life. A proud veteran who fought for the Union during the American Civil War (1861–1865), he discusses the role of Black people in the military on both sides of the conflict. Other topics of discussion include his work caring for horses and the Underground Railroad. The editors of Weevils in the Wheat inserted comments in this transcription. Their bracketed comments have been included below. This interview, along with other Virginia Writers Project interviews, offer a composite portrait of interviewees’ self-styled personal stories. Interviewers’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped their relationship and conversation with the interviewees. Although the interviews aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.

 

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Interview of Mrs. Armaci Adams” (June 25, 1937)

Armaci Adams, a woman born into slavery, tells two interviewers from the Virginia Writers Project about her life. Some of her major memories include how her burn scars saved her from being sold and that her enslavers hid the news about emancipation from her. Her interviewers estimated her birth year was 1859 and in her narrative Adams guesses that she was thirteen when she finally learned of emancipation, so she possibly spent the five to six years between 1865 and 1872 being illegally held in slavery. The editors of Weevils in the Wheat inserted comments in this transcription. Their bracketed comments have been included below. This interview, along with other Virginia Writers Project interviews, offer a composite portrait of interviewees’ self-styled personal stories. Interviewers’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped their relationship and conversation with the interviewees. Although the interviews aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.

 

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Interview with Archie Booker” (Date Unknown)

Archie Booker, a man born into slavery, tells an interviewer from the Virginia Writers Project about his life. Some of his major memories include witnessing the Battle of Yorktown (1862) and the community of free Black people who lived near the plantation where he was enslaved. This interview, along with other Virginia Writers Project interviews, offer a composite portrait of interviewees’ self-styled personal stories. Interviewers’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped their relationship and conversation with the interviewees. Although the interviews aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.

 

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Interview with Ellis Bennett” (January 7, 1937)

Ellis Bennett, a man born into slavery and veteran of the American Civil War (1861–1865), tells an interviewer from the Virginia Writers Project about his life. He discusses his memories of the Civil War, emancipation, and how enslaved people were prohibited from learning to read and write. The interview begins with a narrative description of Bennett and the Soldiers’ Home Hospital in Hampton where he lived written by the Virginia Writers Project. Bracketed comments were made by the editors of Weevils in the Wheat. This interview, along with other Virginia Writers Project interviews, offer a composite portrait of interviewees’ self-styled personal stories. Interviewers’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped their relationship and conversation with the interviewees. Although the interviews aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.

 

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Interview with Robert Ellett” (December 25, 1937)

Robert Ellett, a man born into slavery, tells an interviewer from the Virginia Writers Project about his life. Some of his major memories include hearing rumors of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, his arrival in Hampton with his mother as refugees during the American Civil War (1861–1865), and Abraham Lincoln’s death. Ellett’s interviewer, Claude W. Anderson, included comments in this transcription. His bracketed comments have been included below. This interview, along with other Virginia Writers Project interviews, offer a composite portrait of interviewees’ self-styled personal stories. Interviewers’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped their relationship and conversation with the interviewees. Although the interviews aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.

 

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