In the late 1930s the Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) began an undertaking to document the history and folklore of South Carolina as told by surviving slaves and their descendents. What was produced over the five-and-half-year project was an extensive collection—thousands of written pages—of African American folklore that had been passed down through generations and, until then, had never before been put to paper. Before and After Freedom is a collection of authentic Lowcountry folklore as directly told to the WPA field workers and captured through their written reports. Southern author Nancy Rhyne has assembled a cross section of writing that gives the reader an understanding of the stories and superstitions embraced by generations of former slaves and their families. Along with WPA reports, Rhyne also has added stories from personal interviews and detailed research. From former slaves to Charleston's social elite and the state's first governors, this is a diverse collection of tales, but all of them reveal a character and nature that is true to the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Nancy Rhyne is the author of twenty books focusing on the myth and history of the South. She is famous throughout the Carolina Coast for her masterful storytelling and unique ability to capture the folklore of the area with her writing.