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. Fannie Ashe Thomas was born in Mount Hope, West Virginia. She gives us detailed information about her family throughout the interview, including her father, who was a coal miner and who bought a bus to transport kids to school, her son Gavin, her marriages, family life, the home her father built, the ways her family influenced her, and her brother Tom's death. She also provides detailed information about her childhood and her education, recalling: social events; race relations during childhood; economics during her childhood; a brief section about a fire that destroyed Mount Hope; a mining camp; teachers she remembers; a brief mention of someone bombing an old school building; and her college experience. Her teaching career is another important focus, and she describes it in detail. She also recalls the desegregation of schools and businesses and discusses race relations, how being African-American and a woman might have limited her opportunities in life, her opinion on whether or not women and African-Americans have better lives now than in the past, black-white relationships (including dating), discrimination among blacks, as well as the Ku Klux Klan and civil rights activities. There are numerous other discussion points in this interview, and some of them include: minstrel shows; churches and religion; her social life as an adult; medical care in Mount Hope; operettas at her school; how she has changed over her life; and many other topics. The interview ends with more discussion of her family.

Publication Date






Library of Congress Subjects

Thomas, Fannie Ashe, 1912- -- Autobiography.
New River Company -- oral histories.
DeBois Hill School -- oral histories.
Ku Klux Klan (1915- ) -- oral histories.
African-Americans -- West Virginia -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-810.


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Oral History Interview: Fannie Ashe Thomas