Rita Wicks-Nelson and Ancella Radford Bickley



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This interview is one of series conducted concerning Oral Histories of African-American women who taught in West Virginia public schools. Pearl Swann Carter began teaching at a school in Clintonville, West Virginia. She gives us detailed information about her family throughout the interview, including her husband and children, a relative who was a slave, a story about her sister becoming mayor of White Sulphur Springs, and organizations her husband and her family belonged to. She attended Bethune school, Bolling High School[?], and West Virginia State, and then graduate school (which includes Marshall University); she gives us information about them, including school activities. She discusses her childhood in detail, telling us about her activities and entertainment (such as dancing at home), her childhood house, Christmas, the Silas Green Show (a variety show), and she also remembers a lynching, which was part of the Greenbrier lynchings. Her teaching career is another large topic, but she also discusses her employment history outside of teaching. She came to be a teacher at Bolling High School and taught there for 22 years before it was closed. She also taught at White Sulphur Springs High School (where there were tensions, protests, and a riot over racial issues) and Greenbrier East--she discusses both. Mrs. Carter also served on the Board of Education. She tells us about the Greenbrier resort, White Sulphur Springs, having a black cheerleader and other black students on the footfall team and music organizations at White Sulphur High, as well as her teaching methods. Racism and race relations are another emphasis, and she discusses segregation, white friends, attending a white church, racism throughout her life and how she and her family have dealt with it, and situations facing black men and black youths. She also recalls the desegregation of schools. Other education-related topics include changes she sees in teachers, her students, and her choice on becoming and being a teacher. She discusses a number of other topics as well, such as church and religion, how being a woman has shaped her life and differences she sees between men and women, serving on the town council, organizations she belonged to, her self-perceptions, influences in her life, and thoughts about her life in general. The interview concludes with an anecdote about a student seeing a snake in the cafeteria.

Publication Date






Library of Congress Subjects

Carter, Pearl Swann, 1919- -- Autobiography.
Silas Green Show -- Oral histories.
Bolling High School -- Oral histories.
West Virginia State College (Institute, W. Va.) -- Oral histories.
West Virginia State College (Institute, W. Va.) -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-789.


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Oral History Interview: Pearl Swann Carter