Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



As part of the 1940 Federal Writer’s Project, the Savannah, Georgia Unit sought to authentically record oral traditions and life experiences of coastal African Americans in their own words. The study sought to produce an important artifact of African American culture through dialectal awareness, especially to preserve these dialects during an apocalyptic linguistic change. Among the many voices, Katie Brown’s echoed reminisces of a family history. Combined with Cornelia Walker Bailey’s memoir, God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man, this historical documentation gives life to the cultural traditions brought by Bilali and other slaves when they were forcibly settled on the plantations of coastal Georgia. These forced settlement patterns arose from the antebellum institution of chattel slavery and continued postbellum with established settlements of the former slaves (most of whom identify their heritage as Geechee) who stayed in Georgia before and after the Great Migration of the early 1900s. Analyzing internal language features through their corresponding socio-cultural influences provides a written certification of a primarily oral heritage. Therefore, I focus my research lens on the settlement patterns that occurred both during and after slavery.