Unchained Memories

Unchained Memories is a 2003 documentary film about the stories of former slaves interviewed during the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project and preserved in the WPA Slave Narrative Collection. This HBO film interpretation directed by Ed Bell and Thomas Lennon[2] is a compilation of slave narratives, narrated by actors, emulating the original conversation with the interviewer. The slave narratives may be the most accurate in terms of the everyday activities of the enslaved, serving as personal memoirs of more than two thousand former slaves. The documentary depicts the emotions of the slaves and what they endured. The "Master" had the opportunity to sell, trade, or kill the enslaved, for retribution should one slave not obey.

Unchained Memories
Unchained Memories - DVD cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byEd Bell and Thomas Lennon
Written byMark Jonathan Harris
Narrated byWhoopi Goldberg
Distributed byHBO
Release date
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited States


The largest collection of slave narratives emerged from the Federal Writers' Project. Created by the Federal Government under the WPA to reduce unemployment during the 1930s, one component of the Federal Writers' Project involved interviews with thousands of former slaves in 17 states.[citation needed] The oral history interview project yielded an extraordinary set of 2,300 autobiographical documents known as the Slave Narrative Collection.[citation needed] What emerged from these documents were pictures of living standards, the daily chores, and long days, along with stories of the good and bad "Master."[citation needed] The brutality, torture, and abuse under slavery are themes in the interviews.[citation needed]

After the Civil War ended in 1865, more than four million slaves were set free.[citation needed] The main objectives were to inform the public and describe the history and life of the former slaves.[citation needed] More than 2,000 slave narratives along with 500 photos are available online at the Library of Congress as part of the "Born in Slavery" project.[3]

Slaves and readersEdit


All that follow beneath are from the credits in Unchained Memories

Music and soundEdit

All that follow beneath are from the Internet Movie Database

  • Music Engineer: Corey Folta[citation needed]
  • Music Composer: Patricia Lee Stotter
  • Sound Editors: Ira Spiegel, Marlena Grzaslewicz[citation needed]
  • Assistant Sound Editor: Mariusz Glabinski[citation needed]
  • Music Editor: John M. Davis[citation needed]
  • Sound Mixers: Peter Waggoner, Sound One[citation needed]
  • Sound: Doug Donald, Charles Hunt, Jim Mansen, Bruce Perlman, Michael Riley, Sasumo Tokunaw, Anna Delanzo[citation needed]
  • People in total who were in charge of the sound of Unchained Memories were Doug Donald, Charles Hunt, Jim Mansen, Bruce Perlman, Michael Riley, Sasumo Tokunaw, Anna Delanzo[citation needed]
  • Harpo Productions Audio Director- JR Chappell, Audio Assistant- Stacey Hempel[citation needed]
  • Choral Performers- Sound- Jim Hawkins, Steve Smith, Dennis Towns[citation needed]

Musical selections used in Unchained MemoriesEdit

All that follow beneath are from the credits in Unchained Memories

  • "No More" - performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama. Real World Records[citation needed]
  • "O Day" - performed by Bessie Jones and Alan Lomax. Rounder Records[citation needed]
  • "Early in The Mornin" - arranged by "22" and Alan Lomax. Performed by Prisoners 22, Little Red, Tangle Eye, and Hard Hair, Rounder Records[citation needed]
  • "Im Goin' Up North". Traditional, performed by the Children of East York School Folkways Recordings[citation needed]
  • "Hard Times in Ol' Virginia". Arranged by John Davis and Alan Lomax, performed by John Davis. Rounder Records[citation needed]
  • "Enter Mozelle's House", "Another Dead Snake", "Mozelle", "In The Mirror", "Mozelle's Theme", "Carriage House", Original musical score from Eve's Bayou composed and performed by Terence Blanchard. Courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment Group[citation needed]
  • "Adam & Eve", "Wade The Water To My Knee", "Move Daniel", "Blow Gabriel"[citation needed]
  • Traditional African-American ring shouts, performed and arranged by The McIntosh County Shouters[citation needed]


All that follow beneath are from the credits in Unchained Memories

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Samuel Jackson Figures He Owes His Success to Morgan Freeman" (Fee required). The Deseret News. March 2, 1993. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  2. ^ Internet Movie Database website - Unchained Memories, accessed May 5, 2010.
  3. ^ "Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938". Library of Congress. Retrieved 15 January 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • A Sketch of the Laws Relating to Slavery in the Several States of the United States of America. Stroud, George M. (George McDowell), 1795-187
  • An Introduction to the WPA Slave Narratives. Yetman, Norman R.
  • When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection. Yetman, Norman R.
  • Prison & Slavery - A Surprising Comparison. Gleissner, John D.

External linksEdit