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. B'Alma Epps Jones began teaching in Washington High School in London, West Virginia in the 1930s. She gives us detailed information about her family throughout the interview (including her father who had many jobs, such as a candy -maker), Christmas in her family, her husband and her married life, social activities she and her husband participated in, the deaths of her mother and husband, and a white relative in her family. She also tells us detailed information about her education, which included a one-room school, Salem College, West Virginia State, and West Virginia University. She was a member of a sorority and also tells us about her activities during high school and teachers she knew. Her employment history is another important topic, and she gives us detailed information about her teaching career, including her teaching methods, segregation in education and the effects of desegregation in schools, coming to work at a predominantly white school (Summit Park High School), race relations at that school, her job and duties at Kelley Miller School and Summit Park High School, the PTA (Parent Teachers Association), as well as how teaching and disciplining students has become harder for teachers in recent years. She also taught Sunday School at her church. There are numerous other discussion points as well, such as: why she moved to WV; her church; brief information on childhood punishments; her social life in Tennessee (which was the state where she was born); a brief section on the Great Depression; a newspaper article that featured her; a women's study club she was a member of; World War II; interracial dating; her shyness; equality in marriage; her self-perceptions; how being an African-American woman helped shape her life and discrimination she has faced in her life; and many other subjects. She ends with more information on her family and slavery.

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Library of Congress Subjects

Jones, B'Alma Epps, -- Autobiography.
Kelley Miller School -- Oral histories.
Summit Park High School -- Oral histories.
Family -- Oral histories.
African-Americans -- West Virginia -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-800.


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Oral History Interview: B'Alma Epps Jones