Culture

The Best Slave Narratives in American History 

Ranker Books
Updated October 15, 2018 697 votes 387 voters 13k views 35 items

A list of the most important slave narratives in American literature. True stories told by fugitive or freed slaves allow modern readers to experience the history of slavery in an immediate and personal way. Nothing can make a reader identify with an author like an autobiography or biography; reading real peoples' experiences in their own words can shape our sense of humility, empathy, and compassion.

These factual accounts of slavery, suffering, escape, and freedom by figures like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass allow modern audiences to go beyond superficial images to a fuller understanding of the slave experience. In illuminating the humanity of the oppressed, these stories also contextualize a horrific American institution that continues to profoundly shape our culture.

There are many historical accounts that pertain to the topic of slavery from the perspective of slaves themselves. We've compiled some of the most famous personal tales by slaves from American history. Vote up the best slave narratives below and if we missed any important non-fiction slave stories, add them to the list.

list ordered by
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The Interesting Narrativ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Incidents in the Life of... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Narrative of the Life of... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Twelve Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Solomon Northup
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Life and Times of Freder... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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My Bondage and My Freedo... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Frederick Douglass
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Roots: The Saga of an Am... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Up From Slavery is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Booker T. Washington
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Confessions of Nat Turne... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Behind the Scenes in the... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Narrative of my escape f... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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The narrative of William... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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My southern home is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
William Wells Brown
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The Classic Slave Narrat... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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The History of Mary Prin... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Memories of Childhood's ... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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The Bondwoman's Narrativ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Trivia Wiz added Hannah Crafts
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Narrative of the uncommo... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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The Black Bard of North ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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The Light and Truth of S... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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American Slavery: A Comp... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Life of William Grimes, ... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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The Refugee: Narratives ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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The Experience of a Slav... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
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Thirty Years a Slave: fr... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History