African Americans in Harrisonburg Oral Histories, 1978-1979

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Summary Information

Repository:
Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Title:
African Americans in Harrisonburg Oral Histories
Collection No.:
SdArch 5
Date:
1978-1979
Extent:
7 folders, 15 audiocassettes, 15 cds, .46 Cubic Feet
Language of the Material:
English
Abstract:
African Americans in Harrisonburg Oral Histories, 1978-1979, is comprised of audio recordings, transcripts, photographs and background research of interviews with black residents of Harrisonburg, conducted by students under the supervision of Inez L. Ramsey, Professor of Library Science and Secondary Education at James Madison University.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [box #, folder #], African Americans in Harrisonburg Oral Histories, 1978-1979, SdArch 5, Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

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Bio/Historical Note

Dr. Inez Ramsay was a librarian and professor of JMU from 1975 until her retirement in 1998. In 1978, Ramsay served as the project director for the summer workshop, "Oral Tradition and Storytelling in the Black Community of Harrisonburg," in which she worked with six JMU students to conduct interviews that would "reconstruct the kind of lives black people in Harrisonburg have lived over the years." Legal releases from interviewees were obtained in 1991 and 1992.

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Scope and Content

The African Americans in Harrisonburg Oral Histories, 1978-1979, is comprised of audio recordings, transcripts, photographs and background research of interviews with black residents of Harrisonburg, conducted by students under the supervision of Inez L. Ramsey, Professor of Library Science and Secondary Education at James Madison University.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Acquisition Information

Collection was donated on June 4, 1991 by Dr. Inez Ramsey.

Processing Information

Collection was cataloged at the item level in 1993; the descriptive metadata was compiled into a Finding Aid format in 2019. Cassette tapes were transferred to MAMA-R 700MB gold cd-r using Tascam cc-222 mkII; 618mb. Audio recordings were digitized by Kirsten Mlodynia, Digital Project Specialist at JMU Libraries in July 2018.

Location

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

880 Madison DriveMSC 1704Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807library-special@jmu.eduURL: https://www.lib.jmu.edu/special/

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Index Terms

Personal Name

  • Ramsey

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Bibliography

Reed, Gary. "Workshop seeks to preserve local black heritage." The Breeze, August 2, 1978.

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Collection Inventory

Title/Description Instances
Documents and photographs, 1978-1979

Supplemental information includes list of persons buried in "Newtown Cemetery," the "colored cemetery" located on Kelly and Hill Streets, Harrisonburg, Va; "Roll of colored voters in Rockingham in the early 1900's," researched by Johnny Dove; 2 pages from the "History of the Augusta Street Methodist Church." Newspaper articles include: "Earl Johnson," from AFRO Magazine, Nov. 21, 1953, "R.E. Johnson dies; former Olympian" (Harrisonburg, Va. Daily News-Record (?), n.d.); "Mr. Harris has 93rd birthday," retired principal of Lucy Simms School (H'burg Daily News-Record (?), n.d.); "Simms School," (H'burg Daily News-Record, Aug. 22, 1978); "Despite segregation law, 'people were kind'," by Chris Simmons (H'burg Daily News-Record, Thurs., July 3, 1980); "Roberta Webb, a Valley treasure: black educator lived her religion," (H'burg Daily News-Record, Tues., Feb. 7, 1995). Photographs and negatives of Miss Lucy Simms and school children.

Box 1 Folder 1
Peggy Curry interviewed by Eugene "Ickey" Hollins, July 22, 1978

Records the reminiscences of Mrs. Peggy Curry of Harrisonburg, Va., wife of James Curry. Describes childhood including education (Effinger and Lucy Simms schools), busing of black children from surrounding areas including Elkton, McGaheysville, Grottoes to Harrisonburg), teachers, special days at school, black basketball team; Madison College (May Day); home remedies; segregation (swimming); and the free black community at Zenda. Recorded at the home of Mrs. Peggy Curry, Harrisonburg, Va. on July 22, 1978.

Transcript, July 22, 1978 Box 1 Folder 2
Original audiocassette, July 22, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-001
Preservation master cd Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-001
Virginia Nickens interviewed by Inez Ramsey and Vicki Lloyd, July 17, 20, 24, 1978 and February 14, 1979

Records the reminiscences of Virginia Josephine Nickens (b. 1895) of Harrisonburg, Va., school teacher and maid for twenty years at Madison College. Describes childhood incl. experiences driving cattle thru town for Siebert family; "switching" (discipline); riding horses, downtown stable, local race track; roller skating, double decker sleds; bear and snake stories, fortune telling by Bob Rawls, the half-breed Indian blacksmith; heating with pot bellied stoves, lighting by kerosene lamps; early education (Effinger, Lucy Simms schools -- knew about Tin Cup Alley school, teachers Fannie Wilson, L. Simms and brother), training at Hampton Institute and meeting President Taft; cooking (quince honey, apple butter); gardening; home remedies; Madison College (Newman farms, first men on campus, soldiers, three sorority houses at Fine Arts bldg. where she was maid); stories of Indians in Bath County where her mother was born, also in Rockingham County (dug a tunnel from Hilltop to spring at Court Square in Harrisonburg); Red Hill and Zenda; churches (AME church and the missionary from Africa, John Wesley Methodist Church, Rev. Ronald Colley); Court days; various town personalities and black businesses (barber shops, black restaurant owner, first black policeman, Joseph Williams, the Olympian, R. Earl Johnson); her family (incl. story of her mother, born into slavery -- father the master, later escaped and caught), her children; mixed race families, voting privileges; and relations between blacks and whites over the years. Recorded at the home of Mrs. Willie Nickens, Harrisonburg, Va. on July 17, 20, 24, 1978 and Feb. 14, 1979. Tapes for four interviews. Note that some tapes contain blank sides: 5-3f (side 2 of tape 3); 5-3h (side 2 of tape 4); 5-3i (side 1 of tape 5)

Transcript and Supporting Documents, July 17, 20, 24, 1978 and February 14, 1979 Box 1 Folder 3
Original audiocassette #1, July 17, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-002
Original audiocassette #2, July 20, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-003
Original audiocassette #3, July 20, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-004
Original audiocassette #4, July 24, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-005
Original audiocassette #5, February 14, 1979 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-006
Original audiocassette #6, February 14, 1979 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-007
Preservation master cd #1 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-002
Preservation master cd #2 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-003
Preservation master cd #3 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-004
Preservation master cd #4 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-005
Preservation master cd #5 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-006
Preservation master cd #6 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-007
Minnie Stuart Bell interviewed by Inez Ramsey and Brenda McCormick, July 1978

Records the reminiscences of Mrs. Minnie Bell Stuart (b. 1894) of Harrisonburg, Va., known as Miss Minnie. Describes her childhood living in the black community of Depot Hill and Tin Cup Alley; importance of church in life as a preacher's kid, her grandmother teaching Sunday school to both black and white children from Effinger Street, founding of the AME Church (preacher from Africa, Rev. Marion Gioper, also Rev. Collings); daily life fetching water at the Spring House, using Black's Run as a community gathering place, picking wood from railroad tracks; black businesses (lady who owned a second-hand store, fishmonger who sold fish from Baltimore), other downtown buildings/businesses; courting practices; clothes people/boys wore; home remedies (dandelion wine); people and Asbury Methodist Church she worked for as a cleaning maid; and information about her family and children. Recorded at the home of Mrs. Minnie Bell Stuart, Harrisonburg, Va. in July of 1978.

Transcript and Supporting Documents, July 1978 Box 1 Folder 4
Original audiocassette #1, July 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-008
Original audiocassette #2, July 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-009
Original audiocassette #3, July 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-010
Preservation master cd #1 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-008
Preservation master cd #2 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-009
Preservation master cd #3 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-010
Helen Irvin Wells interviewed by Inez Ramsey and Carolyn Hobson, July 18, 1978

Records the reminiscences of Mrs. Helen Irvin Wells (b. 1898) of Harrisonburg, Va., school teacher at Grottoes, Elkton and Bridgewater Elementary schools and cook at Madison College for fifteen years. Describes her childhood incl. holiday observances (Easter, Christmas); games, ghost stories told by the half-breed Indian, making dolls & hats from corn husks, honeysuckle baskets; education (Effinger School, recollections of L. Simms, her brother, the poet U.G. Wilson, spelling contests, school schedule based on farming seasons), and later education at Va. State College); histories of local Methodist churches (circuit preachers John Wesley, Mr. Otterbein), gardening, canning, recipes (scripture cake); making quilts, hook rugs, and tatting (making lace). Recorded at the home of Mrs. Helen Irvin Wells, Harrisonburg, Va. on July 18, 1978 (?). Includes 4-leaf paper contains recollections of the well known teacher, Lucy Simms, the names of local black Civil War veterans, and a list of prominent black leaders within the community. Note that the paper indicates three dates (July 18-20, 1978).

Transcript and Supporting Documents, July 18, 1978 Box 1 Folder 5
Original audiocassette #1, July 18, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-011
Original audiocassette #2, July 18, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-012
Preservation master cd #1 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-011
Preservation master cd #2 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-012
Roberta Morgan Webb interviewed by Vicki Bemisderfer, July 20, 1978

Records the reminiscences of Mrs. Roberta Morgan Webb (b. 1889), a teacher for many years in the Harrisonburg, Va. area. Born in Raleigh, N.C., she spent her formative years with the Middleditches, a white family. Describes childhood (games, farming, holidays); education in integrated schools in Pa. and N.J. (ex. Ridley and Westfield, N.J.), graduation at Hampton College, teaching with L. Simms, Effinger School; home remedies; R. Earl Johnson; her family and children; and relations between blacks and whites. Recorded at the Va. Mennonite Nursing Home in Harrisonburg, Va. on July 20, 1978.

Transcript and Supporting Documents, July 20, 1978 Box 1 Folder 6
Preservation master cd, July 20, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-013
Preservation master cd Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-013
James Curry interviewed by Inez Ramsey, August 2, 1978

Records the reminiscences of Mr. James Curry of Harrisonburg, Va., custodian of Spotswood Elementary School and first black deacon of the Mennonite Church in Va. Describes childhood including life on the farm, discipline of children, education (Effinger and Lucy Simms schools), childhood games; his family; black churches including the Broad Street Mennonite Church, Pleasant Hill AME Church; black communities (Port Republic, Bridgewater, Red Hill in Harrisonburg); black businesses (carpenter shop, taxi business, the candy man/Dixie Williams' Store), professional teachers (Lucy Simms, Jeannie Francis) and doctors (Dr. Dickerson and the flu epidemic); home remedies; Madison College as a women's school; Harrisonburg as a small town (ex. watching horses being driven thru town, brick/cobblestone streets); reminiscences of WWI (changing of German St. to Liberty St.) and WW II (rationing, black soldiers); and general relations between blacks and whites. Recorded at the home of Mr. James Curry's son, Harrisonburg, Va. on Aug. 2, 1978.

Transcript, August 2, 1978 Box 1 Folder 7
Original audiocassette #1, August 2, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-014
Original audiocassette #2, August 2, 1978 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA005-CS-015
Preservation master cd #1 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-014
Preservation master cd #2 Media Cabinet 1 CD SA005-OP-015