E. Jane Dillard


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. E. Jane Dillard gives us detailed information about her family throughout the interview. She discusses her relatives, children and grandchildren, but two family members are the main focus of discussion: her father and her husband. Her father was a coal miner and lived with a white family for a while; she tells us about her relationship with him, as well as his failing health and his death. Her husband is the other main family member discussed, and she tells us about how he lost his hand in a mining accident, general information about him--both of their work experiences, their marriage, their family life-- taking care of him during his failing health (which kept her at home and affected her social life at the time of the interview), as well as his life as a preacher and how his church was dealing with his illness (Mrs. Dillard was working to keep it going). Mrs. Dillard was Baptist and she discusses religion in her life. She also gives us stories of her childhood home and life, such as slaughtering a pet pig, Christmas, school dances, and her childhood perceptions on poverty. Apart from family and childhood, she gives us detailed information about her education. She attended a one- room school called the Crystal Block Colored School, Aracoma High School, Bluefield State College, and she also earned a master's degree in special education. After college, she began substitute teaching and later taught at Stirrat (the first integrated school she went to). She eventually got involved in special education. She also discusses problems she had with parents and administrators. She recalls segregation in life (such as hospitals) and the desegregation of schools. She also tells of discrimination and race relations, such as interracial dating and marriage. She gives her views on prejudices against African-Americans and women (arguing that black men face more discrimination than black women) differences she sees between men and women, as well as her thoughts on the women's movement and the Civil Rights Movement. Other topics are discussed as well, and they include: World War II; her reasons for pursuing college degrees; white families they were friends with growing up; her thoughts on her life in general; how she has changed over the years; as well as a number of other subjects.

Publication Date






Library of Congress Subjects

Dillard, Eliza Jane, 1930- -- Autobiography.
Bluefield State College -- Oral histories.
Education -- Oral histories.
African-Americans -- West Virginia -- Oral histories.
Appalachian Power Company -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-792.


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Oral History Interview: E. Jane Dillard