Author: Henrietta King


“Henrietta King”; an excerpt from Weevils in the Wheat (1976)

In this excerpt from Weevils in the Wheat (1976), a former slave, Henrietta King of West Point, Virginia (b. 1843), tells an interviewer about the disfigurement she suffered at the hands of her former mistress. Weevils in the Wheat, edited by Charles L. Perdue Jr., Thomas E. Barden, and Robert K. Phillips, collects all the interviews of former Virginia slaves conducted during the Great Depression by the Virginia Writers’ Project. Many of the interviews, including King’s, were published in The Negro in Virginia (1940). 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.