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Voice recordings of people who were enslaved offer incredible first-person accounts of U.S. history
Library of Congress

This article originally appeared on 03.09.20


When we think about the era of American slavery, many of us tend to think of it as the far distant past. While slavery doesn't exist as a formal institution today, there are people living who knew formerly enslaved black Americans first-hand. In the wide arc of history, the legal enslavement of people on U.S. soil is a recent occurrence—so recent, in fact, that we have voice recordings of interviews with people who lived it.


Many of us have read written accounts of enslavement, from Frederick Douglass's autobiography to some of the 2,300 first-person accounts housed in the Library of Congress. But how many of us have heard the actual voices of people who were enslaved telling their own stories?

ABC News' Nightline with Ted Koppel aired a segment in 1999 in which we can hear the first-person accounts of people who had been enslaved taken from interviews conducted in the 1930s and 40s (also housed in the Library of Congress). They include the voice of a man named Fountain Hughes, who was born into slavery in 1848 and whose grandfather had "belonged to" Thomas Jefferson.

As Koppel says in the segment, "The results of these digitally enhanced recordings are arresting, almost unbelievable. The idea of hearing the voices of actual slaves from the plantations of the Old South is as powerful—as startling, really—as if you could hear Abraham Lincoln or Robert E. Lee speak."

Indeed, hearing formerly enslaved people share their experiences of being bought and sold like cattle, sleeping on bare pallets, and witnessing whippings for insubordination is a heartbreaking reminder of how close we are to this ugly chapter of our history. The segment is well worth ten minutes to watch:


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A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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gerlalt/Canva

James Earl Jones helped "Sesame Street" prove its pedagogical model for teaching kids the alphabet.

James Earl Jones has one of the most recognizable voices in the entertainment industry and has for decades. Most of us probably heard that deep, resonant voice first as Darth Vader in "Star Wars," or perhaps Mufasa in "The Lion King," but just one or two words are enough to say, "Oh, that's definitely James Earl Jones."

Jones has been acting on stage and in film since the 1960s. He also has the distinction of being the first celebrity guest to be invited to "Sesame Street" during the show's debut season in 1969.

According to Muppet Wiki, clips of Jones counting to 10 and reciting the alphabet were included in unbroadcast pilot episodes and also included in one of the first official television episodes. Funnily enough, Jones originally didn't think the show would last, as he thought kids would be terrified of the muppets. Clearly, that turned out not to be the case.

Jones' alphabet recitation served as a test for the "Sesame Street" pedagogical model, which was meant to inspire interaction from kids rather than just passive absorption. Though to the untrained eye, Jones' slow recitation of the ABCs may seem either plodding or bizarrely hypnotic, there's a purpose to the way it's presented.

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via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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