Some of the old buildings at Louisiana’s Frogmore Plantation are from the days of slavery, and recently found slave narratives add a voice of realism for tourists.
Cotton still grows in the fields of Frogmore, just as it has for nearly two centuries. But the plantation also welcomes tourists who see a collection of historic buildings. A tour guide leads visitors through a steam-powered cotton gin that’s on the National Historic Register. And guests step inside the stark cabins that were once the homes of enslaved people. History takes on a feeling of realism as the guide reads the first hand accounts of some of the people forced to live and work on the plantation.
slave narratives keep in real
Frogmore owner Lynette Tanner wanted to know more about the history of plantation life in Louisiana. She found the stories of former slaves in the Library of Congress. More than two-thousand former slaves told their personal stories in the 1930’s to interviewers with the Federal Writers’ Project. The interviews came from all of the southern states except for Louisiana. Apparently, writer Lyle Saxon, who helped supervise the project, kept the Louisiana slave narratives at Melrose Plantation. Those original documents eventually found their way to the library at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
lost and found
Tanner has now compiled the narratives from the former Louisiana slaves into a book she titled, “Chained to the Land: Voices from Cotton & Cane Plantations“. “It was not part of our education growing up,” Tanner explained. ” I think so much of the history for adults today was glossed over if it was unkind or not socially accepted history.” Tanner adds, “I’ve gone to great lengths to find the real facts”.
During the plantation tour, visitors hear Tanner explain the achievements of the enslaved Africans as land developers, skilled artisans, jewelry makers and their contributions to Southern music. She hopes that sharing these voices from the past will bring to life the experiences of the enslaved people. And during her presentation, Tanner points out that slavery has not ended, “There are children today that are being captured on the black market, drugged and sold”. She is supportive of efforts by groups like Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services that offer shelter and treatment for children.
TV FEATURE ON SLAVE NARRATIVES AT FROGMORE
getting to frogmore plantation
Frogmore Plantation is located 7 miles west of Ferriday Louisiana on U.S. Hwy 84. Address: 11656 US Hwy 84, Frogmore, LA. (318) 757-2453