The Works Progress Administration (WPA) launched the Federal Writers’ Project to employ white-collar workers left jobless by the Great Depression and to create a comprehensive guide to the states, cities, and regions of the United States. The Federal Writers’ Project gathered information on American life and interviews with “ordinary” Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds. The bulk of interviews, articles, and notes contained in this collection paint a portrait of African-American life in South Carolina. These interviews with former slaves, notes on folklore, and articles on prominent African Americans and African-American organizations were compiled at the height of the Project in 1936 and 1937. Though they are products of their times, these materials provide us with one of the richest sources of information on African-American life in South Carolina at the time.
In 2005, Jody H. Graichen of the University of South Carolina submitted a history master’s thesis about this collection of African-American narratives from the South Carolina Federal Writers’ Project: Reinterpreting South Carolina History: The South Carolina Negro Writers’ Project, 1936–1937 (PDF, 12 MB)