Ottrus Chatman


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. Mrs. Ottrus Chatman began teaching as a substitute teacher at Simmons High School at Montgomery, WV. She gives us detailed information about her family throughout the interview, including her marriages and husbands and one husband's death, her relationship with her mother, the Burke-Wheeler Family Reunion (Burke was her maiden name and the reunion took place in Washington, D.C.), and information about her relationship with one of her husbands (including their history and how they met). She tells us about childhood social activities and Christmas, and also discusses her education in detail, including her decision to go to college. She attended Simmons High School in Montgomery (WV), West Virginia State College, and graduate school at Ohio State University. She was a member of the Delta's sorority (Delta Sigma Theta?) and the Pyramid Club. She discusses getting her job at Simmons (High School?) and her teaching job at Aracoma High School, which lasted 17 years. Other education-related topics are her teaching methods, details about her experiences teaching, teachers she knew, her students, and changes she sees in modern teachers. Some other topics in this interview are: World War II; organizations she belongs to; church and religion (she was a Baptist); her friends (including white friends); a brief section on women's rights; thoughts and regrets about her life in general; the death of a friend and other friends she had; changes she sees in modern family life; her self-perceptions; managing a funeral home; racial integration in general; as well as other subjects. The interview ends with more information about organizations she belonged to and her family.

Publication Date






Library of Congress Subjects

Chatman, Ottrus, -- Autobiography.
West Virginia State College (Institute, W. Va.) -- Oral histories.
Simmons High School -- Oral histories.
Aracoma High School -- Oral histories.
White Sulphur Springs High School -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-790.


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Oral History Interview: Ottrus Chatman