Culture

The Best Slave Narratives in American History  

Ranker Books
673 votes 378 voters 12.5k 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.

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list ordered by
1
Narrative of the Life of Frede... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
2
The Interesting Narrative of t... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
3
Incidents in the Life of a Sla... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
4
Twelve Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Solomon Northup
5
Life and Times of Frederick Do... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
6
My Bondage and My Freedom is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Frederick Douglass
7
Up From Slavery is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Booker T. Washington
8
Roots: The Saga of an American... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
9
Confessions of Nat Turner Lead... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
10
Behind the Scenes in the Linco... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
11
The narrative of William W. Br... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
12
My southern home is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
William Wells Brown
13
Narrative of my escape from sl... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
14
The History of Mary Prince is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
15
Narrative of the uncommon suff... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
16
The Black Bard of North Caroli... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
17
The Light and Truth of Slavery... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
18
The Classic Slave Narratives is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
19
The Experience of a Slave in S... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
20
Life of William Grimes, the ru... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
21
Memories of Childhood's Slaver... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
22
The American Slave: A Composit... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
23
Narrative of the Life of Moses... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
24
Letter from a Fugitive Slave: ... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History
25
Thirty Years a Slave: from Bon... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Slave Narratives in American History