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The Talking Diaspora: Ophelia Settle Egypt’s Interviews with Former Slaves

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Abstract:

Ophelia Settle Egypt was a young researcher when she worked alongside sociologist Charles S. Johnson at Fisk University in the late 1920s as he produced some of his best known and highly regarded work. While in Nashville, Egypt was responsible for conducting one hundred interviews with elderly men and women who had been enslaved as children. Some were transcribed and published in 1945 as collections titled Unwritten History of Slavery and God Struck Me Dead. The conversations undertaken by Egypt and her assistants provided the prototype for the thousands of interviews conducted in the 1930s under the auspices of the WPA during the New Deal.

Egypt was just one of many interviewers of former slaves whose lives have been by and large lost to history. Grasping their stories deepens our knowledge of the slave narratives and therefore our understanding of the history of antebellum slavery. Egypt was also just one of many female researchers whose role in the interwar study of African-American life has been overlooked. This paper will therefore also shed light on the role gender and race together played in the development of sociology and social research in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century as it grappled with – and helped to define – the role race played in American society. Finally, by placing Egypt’s work in the context of black history-making during the interwar years, this paper will extend our knowledge of the efforts made to counter dominant narratives about slavery and race in American history.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435841_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Corbould, Clare. "The Talking Diaspora: Ophelia Settle Egypt’s Interviews with Former Slaves" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435841_index.html>

APA Citation:

Corbould, C. "The Talking Diaspora: Ophelia Settle Egypt’s Interviews with Former Slaves" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435841_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: Ophelia Settle Egypt was a young researcher when she worked alongside sociologist Charles S. Johnson at Fisk University in the late 1920s as he produced some of his best known and highly regarded work. While in Nashville, Egypt was responsible for conducting one hundred interviews with elderly men and women who had been enslaved as children. Some were transcribed and published in 1945 as collections titled Unwritten History of Slavery and God Struck Me Dead. The conversations undertaken by Egypt and her assistants provided the prototype for the thousands of interviews conducted in the 1930s under the auspices of the WPA during the New Deal.

Egypt was just one of many interviewers of former slaves whose lives have been by and large lost to history. Grasping their stories deepens our knowledge of the slave narratives and therefore our understanding of the history of antebellum slavery. Egypt was also just one of many female researchers whose role in the interwar study of African-American life has been overlooked. This paper will therefore also shed light on the role gender and race together played in the development of sociology and social research in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century as it grappled with – and helped to define – the role race played in American society. Finally, by placing Egypt’s work in the context of black history-making during the interwar years, this paper will extend our knowledge of the efforts made to counter dominant narratives about slavery and race in American history.


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