Mighty Rough Times, I tell You

Mighty Rough Times, I tell You


Personal Accounts of Slavery in Tennessee

Edited by Andrea Sutcliffe

In 1929, the Social Sciences Department at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, began recording the oral histories of former slaves. During the mid-1930s, the Federal Writers’ Project undertook a similar effort, ultimately compiling more than two thousand interviews and ten thousand pages of material in seventeen states. In this volume, thirty-six former slaves living in Tennessee recount what it was like to live under the yoke. Tennessee was not a large slaveholding state compared with others in the South. On the other hand, it was a leader in the abolition movement prior to 1830 and a powder keg of mixed Union and Confederate sympathies at the time of the Civil War. The voices in this volume thus recall the extreme conditions of slavery in the border country.

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Originally from San Antonio, Andrea Sutcliffe has a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She was a writer, editor, and publications manager in the Washington, DC, area for twenty years. Her writing and editing career began in 1990 as director of the EEI Press in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1996, Andrea Sutcliffe moved to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to devote herself full-time to writing. Andrea’s love of her new home in the mountains of western Virginia, and a desire to learn more about the region’s fascinating history, led to her book, Touring the Shenandoah Valley Backroads.