Author: Ellis Bennett

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 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.

 

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