Behind the Veil is an Oral History project undertaken by Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. “The primary purpose of this documentary project was to record and preserve the living memory of African American life during the age of legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s. Over the span of three summers, teams of researchers conducted oral history interviews with more than one thousand elderly black southerners who remembered that period of legal segregation. The tapes and selected transcripts of the 1,260 interviews in this collection capture the vivid personalities, poignant personal stories, and behind-the-scenes decision-making that bring to life the African American experience in the South during the late-19th to mid-20th century. It is the largest single collection of Jim Crow oral histories in the world.”

“The images used in this site were digitized from the Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South Records, 1940-1997 and undated (bulk 1993-1997) archival collection in the Rubenstein Library. The individuals depicted in the photos do not correspond to the interview subjects or locations.”

Behind the Veil has oral history collections from the following places:

  • Albany, Georgia
  • Arkansas
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • LeFlore Co., Mississipi
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • New Iberia, Louisiana
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Orangeburg, South Carolina
  • Summerton, South Carolina
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Tuskegee, Alabama
  • St. Helena, South Carolina
  • Muhlenberg County, Kentucky


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