Black Women Oral History Project
The Black Women Oral History Project consists of interviews with 72 African American women from 1976 to 1981, conducted under the auspices of the Schlesinger Library of Radcliffe College, now Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Beginning in 1977, Ruth Edmonds Hill coordinated and devoted herself to the completion of the project and to creating awareness of the rich information contained in the transcripts. The project began with the goal of capturing the lives and stories of women of African descent, many already in their 70s, 80s and 90s. On the recommendation of Dr. Letitia Woods Brown, professor of history at George Washington University, and with funding secured from the Rockefeller Foundation, the project began to address what Dr. Brown noted as inadequate documentation of the stories of African-American women in the Schlesinger Library and at other centers for research.
The project sought a cross section of women who had made significant contributions to American society in the first half of the twentieth century. Many interviewees had professional careers in such fields as education, government, the arts, business, medicine, law and social work. Others combined care for their families with volunteer work at the local, regional, or national level. Most of the interviews explored topics such as family background, education and training, employment, voluntary activities, and family and personal life. The intention was to give the interviewee the opportunity to explore and reflect on the influences and events that shaped her life.
All of the interviews are open for research with digitized materials, with the exception of the following: Merze Tate whose interview is not yet complete and five interviews that remain closed until 2027: Kathleen Adams, Margaret Walker Alexander, Lucy Miller Mitchell, Ruth Janetta Temple, and Era Bell Thompson.
|Jessie Abbott||1977||Wife of Cleve Abbott; secretary to Margaret M. Washington, Jennie B. Moton, and George W. Carver|
|Christia Adair||1977||Suffragist and civil rights worker|
|Frankie V. Adams||1977||Atlanta-based educator, activist, and author|
|Kathleen Adams||1976, 1977||One of the first black supervisors in Atlanta's public schools|
|Frances M. Albrier||1977, 1978||Civil rights activist and community leader|
|Margaret Walker||1977||Poet and novelist|
|Sadie Alexander||1977||One of the first three black women in the United States ever to receive a Ph.D.|
|Elizabeth C. Barker||1976, 1977||One of the Cardozo Sisters; granddaughter of Francis L. Cardozo; niece of Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller|
|Etta Moten||1985||Opera star and actress|
|Norma Boyd||1976||Educator, co-founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha|
|Melnea Cass||1977||Civil rights activist|
|Juanita Craft||1977||Civil rights activist|
|Clara Dickson||1978||Mashpee, Massachusetts community activist|
|Alfreda Duster||1978||Social worker; daughter of Ida B. Wells|
|Eva Dykes||1977||One of the first three black women in the United States to receive a Ph.D.|
|Mae Eberhardt||1979||Trade unionist|
|Florence Edmonds||1980||Nurse and trainer of nurses|
|Lena Edwards||1977||Physician and educator; recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom|
|Dorothy Ferebee||1979||Obstetrician and civil rights activist|
|Minnie Fisher||1979||Teacher, lifelong resident of Mound Bayou, Mississippi|
|Katherine Flippin||1977, 1978||Head Start organizer|
|Virginia Gayton||1977||Granddaughter of Lewis G. Clarke, on whom the character of George Harris is based in Uncle Tom's Cabin|
|Zelma George||1978||Musicologist, actress|
|Frances Grant||1977||Teacher at the Bordentown School and Fieldston School|
|Ardie C. Halyard||1978||Banker, first woman president of the Milwaukee NAACP|
|Pleasant Harrison||1979||Granddaughter of slave; craftswoman; built her own home|
|Anna A. Hedgeman||1978, 1979||Civil rights leader|
|Dorothy Height||1974, 1975, 1976||Educator and civil rights activist|
|Beulah Hester||1978||Boston social worker, graduate of Simmons College|
|May Hill||1978||social worker; wife of Daniel Hill, theologian at Howard University; mother of Daniel G. Hill|
|Margaret C. Holmes||1977||One of the Cardozo Sisters; wife of Eugene C. Holmes, chairman of the philosophy department at Howard University|
|Clementine Hunter||1979||First black artist to exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art|
|Ellen S. Jackson||1978, 1979||Boston school desegregation pioneer|
|Fidelia Johnson||1976||Teacher; daughter of Grambling State University founder Charles P. Adams|
|Lois Mailou Jones||1977||Painter|
|Susie Jones||1977||Wife of Bennett College president David Dallas Jones,|
|Virginia L. Jones||1978||Librarian and educator|
|Hattie Kelly||1976||Dean of women at the Tuskegee Institute; studied under Booker T. Washington|
|Maida S. Kemp||1977||Labor organizer|
|Abna Lancaster||1978||Graduate of Shaw University; instructor at Livingstone College; daughter of Achimota College co-founder James Aggrey|
|Eunice R. Laurie||1977||Nurse and trainer of nurses|
|Catherine C. Lewis||1980||One of the Cardozo Sisters|
|Inabel Lindsay||1977||First dean of the Howard University School of Social Work|
|Miriam Matthews||1977||Librarian and historian|
|Eliza McCabe||1977||Clubwoman, music teacher, member of Woman's Christian Temperance Union|
|Lucy M. Mitchell||1977||Pioneer in early childhood education|
|Audley Moore||1978||Civil rights leader and black nationalist|
|Annie Nipson||1978||Domestic worker from North Carolina; migrant to the North|
|Rosa Parks||1978||Civil rights leader|
|Rucker Sisters||1977||Granddaughters of Georgia politician Jefferson Long|
|Esther Mae Scott||1977||Singer, musician, and composer|
|Julia Smith||1978||Schoolteacher; donated hundreds of photographs to the Museum of Afro-American History|
|Muriel S. Snowden||1977||Founder of Freedom House|
|Olivia P Stokes||1979||Educator; the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in Religious Education|
|Ann Tanneyhill||1978||Active in the National Urban League from 1930 to 1971|
|Merze Tate||1978, 1979||History professor at Howard University; expert on international relations|
|Ruth Temple||1978||First black women to practice medicine in California|
|Constance Thomas||1977||Dancer, American Negro Theatre performer, speech therapist|
|Era Bell Thompson||1978||Editor of Ebony magazine|
|Mary Thompson||1977||Massachusetts dentist, humanitarian, NAACP branch co-founder|
|Bazoline Usher||1977||Teacher at Booker T. Washington High School; Georgia Women of Achievement inductee|
|Charleszetta Waddles||1980||Activist, Pentecostal minister, and humanitarian|
|Dorothy West||1978||Harlem Renaissance writer; friend of Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and others|
|Addie Williams||1977, 1978||Schoolteacher; daughter of slaves|
|Frances H. Williams||1977||Civil rights activist|
|Ozeline Wise||1978||Linotype operator; sister of Satyra Bennett, a Cambridge civic leader|
|Deborah Wolfe||1979||Educator, author, president of the National Alliance of Black School Educators|
|Arline Yarbrough||1977||Clubwoman; founder of a black historical society|
The interviews were recorded on audiotape and transcribed and each interviewee was given an opportunity to edit and correct the transcript prior to the final printing. Both the transcripts and audiotapes have been archived and preserved at the Schlesinger Library. Copies of these materials are also held in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and include the published guide to the transcripts; also the summary of each woman’s life and highlights of topics from their interviews, as well as an index. Furthermore, the interviews and transcripts have been digitized and are available from the Schlesinger Library collection Black Women Oral History Project finding aid.
In 1981, Judith Sedwick offered to create portraits of a few of the interviewees, and later, with additional grant funding, photographed many more. The result is a collection of stunning photographs, which became a traveling exhibition, first shown in 1984 at the New York Public Library. All of these photographs are also catalogued at Harvard's Visual Information Access (VIA) database and available to view as a collection under "Black Women Oral History".
- Chamara J. Kwakye (2010). "Black Women Oral History Project". In Kofi Lomotey. Encyclopedia of African American Education. 1. SAGE Publications. pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-1-4522-6148-5.
- Hill, Ruth Edmonds and Patricia Miller King, eds. (1989) The Black Women Oral History Project: A Guide to the Transcripts, p. iii.
- Black Women Oral History Project Interviews; Finding Aid. OH-31, T-32/finding aid Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:RAD.SCHL:sch01406 Retrieved 20 May 2013
- Ruth Edmonds Hill; Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America (1 May 1991). The Black women oral history project: from the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe College. Meckler. ISBN 978-0-88736-607-9. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "Black Women Oral History Project: Inventory". Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College.
- Jones, Lu Ann (1998). "In Search of Jennie Booth Moton, Field Agent, AAA". Agricultural History. 72 (2): 446–458. JSTOR 3744392.
- "Notable Kentucky African Americans Database: Adams, Florence V. "Frankie"". University of Kentucky Libraries.
- Carter, Linda M. (2006). "Cardozo Sisters". In Smith, Jessie Carney. Encyclopedia of African American Business, Volume 1. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 135–139. ISBN 9780313331107.
- "Lewis G. Clarke: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Forgotten Hero". BlackPast.org.
- "David Dallas Jones". The Journal of Negro History. 41 (2). 1956. JSTOR 2715589.
- Syers, Maryann (2008). Mizrahi, Terry; Davis, Larry, eds. Encyclopedia of Social Work. OUP USA. p. 356. ISBN 9780195306613.
- "Esther Mae Scott Dies, D.C. Singer, Composer". The Washington Post. October 17, 1979.
Mrs. Scott, widely known as Mother Scott, was one of the last survivors of the great era of Mississippi blues singers.
- McNeil, Genna Rae (2013). Witness: Two Hundred Years of African-American Faith and Practice at the Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem, New York. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 193. ISBN 9780802863416.
- Hill, Lisa Beth (1993). "Tanneyhill, Ann (Anna) Elizabeth". In Hine, Darlene Clark. Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 2. Carlson Pub. pp. 1139–1141. ISBN 9780926019614.
- "Bazoline Estelle Usher". Georgia Women of Achievement. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
- "Notable Kentucky African Americans Database: Williams, Frances Harriet". University of Kentucky Libraries.
- "Sophia Smith Collection, Collection number MS 414". Smith College. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- Sedwick, Judith. Women of courage: an exhibition of photographs based on the Black Women Oral History Project (1984), sponsored by the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe College. Cambridge, Mass.: Radcliffe College, p 3-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Black Women Oral History Project.|
- Black Women Oral History Project
- Interviews of the Black Women Oral History Project.
- Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.
- Black Women Oral History Project. Sophia Smith Collection. Smith College. Five Colleges Archive and Manuscript Collection.