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. Ruby B. Reeler first started teaching at Grandview School in West Virginia in 1952 and has been employed in several other schools since then. She gives us detailed information about her family throughout the interview, including family life, her feelings about each of her parents, a story about a woman taking advantage of her mother, meeting and marrying her husband, her children, and her current relationship with her husband, who she takes care of because of his sickness. Her childhood is another large topic, and she recalls growing up on a farm, Christmas during her childhood, her growing awareness of racism, and punishments she faced as a child. She also tells us about her education in detail. She remembers prom, sports, music, academics, and teachers during high school, and then her time at Storer College, a black college in West Virginia. She then moves on to her career in teaching, telling us why she chose a career in elementary education, the desegregation of schools, racial tensions at her schools, tensions between her and other teachers & school administrators, her teachings methods, how teaching has changed over time, and why she retired. She also had a career in the City Council and belonged to a number of organizations. Race relations is another important focus, and she tells us about segregation, racial slurs and a lesson she gave about them in her class, the racial climate of Harper's Ferry (West Virginia), and problems African-Americans face because of their race. There are numerous other discussion points as well, such as: moving to Charles Town; church and religion; comic books; old time radio shows; World War II (including the Pearl Harbor attack); women's rights; her self-perceptions and her perceptions on her life; as well as many other topics.
Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-806.
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Marshall University Special Collections, OH64-806, Huntington, WV.