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. Mary F. Montgomery began teaching in the 1950s at Bluff City Elementary School in Virginia. She gives us very detailed information about her family throughout the interview, including the illness and death of her mother. She also provides detailed information about her education, which included Lawson Street Elementary and Bluefield State College, and she tells us about being a member of Delta Sigma Theta (a group of college educated women that stand for public service). She gives us very detailed information about her employment history (including a job at Bluefield Sanitarium) and her teaching career, and describes: a discrimination trial she was involved in after several black teachers were dismissed from their job in Giles County, Virginia; the desegregation of schools; a change she saw in school children after people removed prayer from school and banned old forms of discipline; teachers she knew; her students; different needs and treatment of black and white students when she lived in Giles County; and her philosophy of teaching. The Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, and race relations are also discussed. There are numerous other discussion points, such as: anecdotes and information about her life while teaching in Oakvale, West Virginia; church and church activities; social organizations and events; her self-perceptions and her feelings about her life; other organizations she belonged to; her driving experiences and getting a car; her friends; major events that changed her life; her retirement; World War II; her views on her life in general; as well as numerous others. The interview also includes a poem she wrote.

Publication Date






Library of Congress Subjects

Montgomery, Mary F., 1926- -- Autobiography.
Lawson Street Elementary -- Oral histories.
Bluefield State College -- Oral histories.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority -- Oral histories.
Coopers Grade School -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-804.


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Oral History Interview: Mary F. Montgomery