Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Slave's Christmas Memories - Lou Williams

Lou Williams was born in southern Maryland in 1829. She and her family were slaves of Abram and Kitty Williams, and Lou served as nursemaid to her master's children from the age of eight until after the Civil War. She then went to Louisiana where she worked as a cook for several years before moving to San Angelo, Texas:

"We allus gits Saturday evenin' off to wash our clothes and sometime we has dances Saturday night...We has corn shuckin's and big suppers and on Christmas day massa buys us de present, most times shoes, 'cause we didn't have any shoes."

Photos & quotes from The Slave Narratives, a collection of over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected between 1929-39. Those interviewed ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed. The obvious problem is the language as reported by the interviewers. The Library of Congress explains on their website, "The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of those interviewed."