Behind the Veil is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in life in the south as experienced by African-Americans struggling to make a life for themselves under unfair and repressive laws.

Behind the Veil

The Behind the Veil Oral History Project was undertaken by Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies from 1993 to 1995. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the primary purpose of this documentary project was to record and preserve the living memory of African-American life during the age of legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Herbert Block, 1958

Herbert Block, 1958

Over the span of three summers, teams of researchers conducted oral history interviews with more than one thousand elderly black southerners who remembered that period of legal segregation. The tapes and selected transcripts of the 1,260 interviews in this collection capture the vivid personalities, poignant personal stories, and behind-the-scenes decision-making that bring to life the African-American experience in the South during the late-19th to mid-20th century. It is the largest single collection of Jim Crow oral histories in the world.

Four hundred and ten of the 1,260 interviews have been digitized and made available on this site totaling about 725 hours of recorded audio. One hundred and sixty five of the interviews include transcripts comprising more than 15,000 pages of text.

Source: About – Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Life in the Jim Crow South – Duke Libraries

Whats there?

The website allows you to browse by category or by state: