Author: Minnie Fulkes


“Interview of Mrs. Minnie Fulkes” (1937)

Minnie Fulkes, who was formerly enslaved, recounts her life to Susie Byrd, an interviewer for the Virginia Writers Project in 1937. She describes the horrific beatings her mother received, the efforts enslaved people took to keep worship hidden from enslavers, slave marriages, and her own marriage at a young age. 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.