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.