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The WPA Oral History Projects: Oral History Narratives as Primary Source Documents/Sources
Primary sources and/or artifacts are important to the study, research and documentation of African American history. Providing you with an opportunity to access, examine and write about these sources will promote engagement and significant student learning. Working with primary sources and/or artifacts from a specific historical era allows one to understand those periods in context and appreciate the contributions of ethnic communities in the United States.
Students will examine/analyze slave narratives and develop a written document based on that examination.
Students in this course will develop a reflective essay based on their reading a transcript of an oral history interview conducted in North Carolina for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and their experiences conducting their research. I have made the full set of NC based interview transcripts available in Canvas. I’ve also linked them below.NC Slave Narrative Pt 1
NC Slave Narrative Pt 2
Specifically, you are to:
- Select an formerly enslaved person’s narrative for your paper and input the name into the spreadsheet linked on the narrative selection assignment. No two students can select the same narrative. Until I approve your selection, I do not suggest you proceed with writing your paper.
- Read and take notes on the narrative you’ve selected.
- Find at least one additional scholarly article, book, or book chapter that will supplement your essay. I do not expect you to be able to find scholarly sources that are directly about your chosen person. You are to find sourcing that speaks to some aspect of the stories the person you chose tells. Your final paper must make use of your selected narrative, your textbook, and at least one additional scholarly source (for a total of 3 sources).
- Construct a strong thesis statement and introduction (you may revisit the conclusion once your full essay is complete. This helps ensure that your introduction sets up the paper you wrote.)
Write a 3-4 page reflective essay that tells me about your selected narrator (person being interviewed) and their reflections on enslavement. Consider the following when constructing your cohesive thoughts.
- Name, birthdate, gender, state of residence, etc.
- Describe enslavement through the eyes of your narrator with attention paid to how your narrator remembers or describes persons, places, and things in their environment.
- Is there anything discussed that surprises you or goes against what you’ve believed about the institution of slavery? If so, please detail those things.
- Tell me about your research and analytical process. You do not have to include all of these points. These serve as suggestions:
- Construct a strong conclusion for your paper.
Your 3-4 page essay must be typed, double-spaced, using 12-point Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri font in Chicago/Turabian format. You do not need to include a bibliography page. You must have at least 3-4 pages of content. You must correctly cite any sources used within your essay. You must use FOOTNOTES that are formatted in the Chicago Manual of Style. I will deduct points if you do not include footnotes as they will be your citations and not including them is plagiarism.