Here is one of the famous slave narratives that help us understand what life was like for black Americans before, during and after the Civil War. Most libraries have sets of these. If you purchase a set for yourself, make sure you get the complete set as the abridged set has been severely edited and you’ll get a less objective and jaundiced view of the topic of slavery. The account I have below, for example, is one that might be left out of the purged shorter set (that follows an agenda).
According to this site: “From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. These former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms. Their narratives remain a peerless resource for understanding the lives of America’s four million slaves. What makes the WPA narratives so rich is that they capture the very voices of American slavery, revealing the texture of life as it was experienced and remembered. Each narrative taken alone offers a fragmentary, microcosmic representation of slave life. Read together, they offer a sweeping composite view of slavery in North America, allowing us to explore some of the most compelling themes of nineteenth-century slavery, including labor, resistance and flight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief.”