Baylor Professor Co-Edits Book On Texas Slave Life

May 28, 1997

WACO, Texas - Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, director of academic programs and graduate studies and assistant professor of museum studies at Baylor University and curator of 20th-century materials for the university's Strecker Museum, recently co-edited Till Freedom Cried Out: Memories of Texas Slave Life.

Co-edited with Julie P. Baker, research associate in museum education at the Strecker Museum complex and director of the Layland Museum in Cleburne, Texas, the 192-page book features 32 accounts by men and women who were slaves in Texas. The accounts are taken from interviews conducted in Oklahoma by Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) federal writers' project staff members in the 1930s as part of the W.P.A. Slave Narrative Project.

Field writers in 17 Southern and border states interviewed African-Americans who had been in bondage. Most of the transcripts based on these interviews were forwarded to project headquarters in Washington, D.C., and are preserved in the Library of Congress.

However, while undertaking research in the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1991, the Bakers discovered slave narratives that had not been sent to Washington. Thirty-two of those narratives were with former Texas slaves who had moved to Oklahoma.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery," said Baker. "In essence, this was all new material.

"This is all exceedingly moving material. You can see how these people's lives were shaped by their experiences in bondage. This book is important because it is not a book about slavery, but rather it is a book on what it was like to be a slave."

Till Freedom Cried Out is published by Texas A&M University Press as part of its Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series. The stories are illustrated by internationally renowned African-American artist Kermit Oliver, a Waco resident.

For more information, contact Baker at (254) 755-1233.

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