WPA Ghost Stories

WPA Ghost Stories_at Restoration Rocks_Sample 1

Every ghost needs a score to settle, a tragedy to mourn, or a wrong to avenge. The WPA interviews with ex-slaves are full of all three. Transform these stories into modern day tales of terror and fright, where the ghosts of former slaves come to life and tell the world their forgotten stories. 

You will need: 

  • WPA interviews
  • imagination
  • a good memory


  1. Read an interview and identify an injustice in it.
  2. Pick a person in the story who might not be able to rest in peace after they died.
  3. Create a story where this person roams the earth as a ghost until justice is rendered. If you need help try answering the following questions: Who would the ghost haunt? How would they know who the ghost was? What causes the ghost to appear? What will make the ghost feel like justice has been done? How does the ghost disappear?
  4. Memorize your story and tell it every year around Halloween when you are at places where people tell scary stories.

You can find WPA interviews on the websites below. Please note the dramatic readings of these interviews by modern day actors are very different from the actual interviews. It can be fun to compare them, but you should never listen to the dramatic readings without listening to the original interviews.

Black culture or history topic: Makes a great way to explore first hand accounts of slavery during English, Art, History, or Theater classes while leaving participants feeling empowered instead of depressed.

Art concepts: Contrast. Specifically, using contrast to draw attention to your subject.

Contemporary Artists: Inspired by Toni Morrison’s book Beloved, Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained, and the WPA interviewees who so kindly shared their stories.


One thought on “WPA Ghost Stories

  1. You can do this activity any way you like, but for 2012, we did it by clipping out the key parts from each WPA interview including the state, interviewee name, and record number. Then we pasted them onto a single page followed by a few questions to help kids brainstorm story ideas. You can download two of these activity sheets below



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