MG-409. ORAL HISTORY COLLECTION.
Tapes in the Oral History Collection are divided into twenty projects of interviewing carried out in various Pennsylvania cities by staff members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. These interviews shed light on the daily lives of African Americans, European immigrants, Hispanics, and Jews in the Commonwealth. Indexes of the contents as well as transcripts are available for many of these tapes.
Three of the projects focus exclusively on the lives of African Americans. These are the Harrisburg, Chester, and West Chester projects. In the Harrisburg project, the thirty interviews focus on the lives of Black women who migrated from the South and lived in an uptown neighborhood. Collateral material includes a booklet, Glimpses Into Our Lives: Memories of Harrisburg’s Black Senior Citizens, written at the Harrisburg Uptown Senior Citizen Center, and two half-hour videotapes. The thirty West Chester tapes focus mostly on the Depression and the 1940s and how the color line was broken. The Chester City project includes twenty tapes, which are rich in material dealing with employer-employee relationships, religious life, racial strife, and political corruption. Some of the tapes in the latter collection are restricted.
Three of the collections that include Black history tapes are still growing since the projects continue. These are the Pittsburgh Oral History Project, the Chester County Library Oral History Project, and the Central Pennsylvania Collection. Thirty of the 280 tapes in the Pittsburgh project focus on Black steelworkers in McKeesport, Homestead, and South Pittsburgh. Some of these contain vivid descriptions of neighborhoods, religious life and employment. The Central Pennsylvania Collection produced by the Oral History Project at Pennsylvania State University, Capitol Campus, contains nine tapes on African American life and history in Pennsylvania.
Finally, there are three tapes of interviews with Andrew M. Bradley, the first African American to serve in a governor’s cabinet in Pennsylvania. Bradley was secretary of the budget, and later head of the Department of Property and Supplies under both Governors George M. Leader and David L. Lawrence, serving from 1957 to 1963.
Chester, Pennsylvania Project: "Black Experience in Chester." Includes information on long-time residents, the 1917 race riot, local NAACP activities, political corruption, and employer-employee relationships. African American interviewees were: Solomon A. Bouldin, 5/7/77; Tiney Bradford, 12/17/76; James E. Brown, 3/27/77; Stephen E. Ewing, 5/11/77; Emmett C. Grasty, 1/5/77; William W. Grasty, 12/17/76; Bertha C. Green, 5/24/77; Lee S. Holmes, 12/2/76; Helen Hunt, 3/29/77; Charles E. Kincade, 5/18/77; Lois Laws, 4/28/77; Theodore Laws, 4/28/77; George Raymond, 7/6/77; Mamie and William Raymond, 3/24/77; Linwood Rideout, 3/29/77; Horace Saven:, 5/5/77; Alvin H. Swiggett, 2/12/77; Dorothy L. Wilson, 5/23/77; Mary and Robert A. Wright, 5/25/77. Interviewer was John Turner.
Harrisburg Project. Primarily recollections of long time residents of Harrisburg. Included are interviews with African American women who migrated from the South and lived in an uptown neighborhood. African American Interviewees were: Mildred Barber, her autobiography, "I Remember Mama," 7/7/75; Mary Jane Beasley, 7/23/76; Mae Breckenmaker, 5/11/77; Viola Davenport, 8/3/76; Amelia Davis, 1/14/76 and 2/24/76; Rev. George Davis, 2/13/76 and 2/17/76; Margaret Duff, 2/3/76; Hattie Hargrove, 7/27/76; Frederick Jackson, "The Black Chain Gang," 1/132/76; Lilly Jackson, "Slavery in Virginia," 1/19/77; Sarah Jones, 12/16/75, 1/27/76, 3/27/76; James Henry Lee, 3/16/76; /Georgia London, 7/30,76; Mary Elizabeth Moffitt, 8/5/76; Robert Quann, "Blacks in Harrisburg," 2/27/77 and 4/3/77; Florence Roebuck, "Blacksmithing and Growing Up in Harrisburg", 3/7/77.
Cornwall, Pa. Project. Mrs. Warner Franklin was interviewed by Carl Oblinger for the project, "Cornwall: the People and Culture of an Industrial Camelot, 1890-1980" during 1981-1982. She describes the experiences of African Americans who worked in the Cornwall Furnaces and who lived in the community. Mr. and Mrs. Franklin left Virginia in 1916 and he began working in the open pit as a blaster.
Chester County Project: " Yesterdays." Among a body of general biographical information from rural Chester County are interviews providing information on West Chester’s Black Community during the Depression. The following African Americans were interviewed: Eroll and Sarah Anderson, Norris (?) Aston, Grace Ann Burnall, Warren H. Burton Sr., Catherine R. Carter, Mildred B. Crawford, Mrs. Davis, Carl E. Durnell Sr., Warner A. Durnell, Ruth Smith Flowers, Cornelius H. Gaither, Howard Grant, Mercedes Greer, Sarah Covety Brown Johnson, Anna Jones, Edith King, Henrietta Mauldin, James McCrea, Charles Melton, Thomas E. Norris, Carita Ponzo, Ida Stuart Ray, Earl Rustin, Helen E. Snyder, Irene Spangler, Robert Spence, Bertha Williams, Mrs. Walter Williams, and Rachel Wilson.
Pennsylvania’s New Deal Oral History Project. The project involved eleven individuals who were interviewed from April through September 1990. The following African Americans were interviewed: Samuel J. Brown from Philadelphia; James B. Rowland Sr. from Harrisburg; and Raymond Steth from Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Oral History Project, 1974-1978. Those interviewed were employed by Carnegie Steel Company, Duquesne Mill of the United States Steel Corporation, Federal Enamel Corporation, Firestone Rubber Company, the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, Jones and Laughlin Steel Mill, Lockhart Iron and Steel Corporation, McKeesport Tin Plate Mill, Pittsburgh Steel Foundry, Railway Steel Frame Company, Standard Steel Car Company, Steel Tank Company, Clarence Waters Funeral Home, and the Pittsburgh Courier. Thirty of the tapes focus on African American workers in McKeesport. Homestead, and South Pittsburgh, providing vivid descriptions of neighborhoods, religious life, and work in the steel mills. The following African Americans were interviewed by Peter Gottlieb: Gordon Mason, Betty Glaze, Lowell T. Williams, Benjamin Butler, Laval Murray, Henry Coogler, Dennis Schatzman, and Carol Murphy; Jasper W. Adams (Tape 239), Sadie W. Adams (Tape 203), anonymous African American man (Tapes 2-3), anonymous African American woman (Tape 219), George Bailey (Tape 19-2), Samuel Bailey (Tape 47-2), Jean Blair (Tape 210), Henry Brown (Tape 44-1), Homer Brown (Tape 54), Willam Bryant (Tape 46-2), Henry Carter (Tape 49-2), Ethel N. Christian ((Tape 59-2), Samuel Christian (Tape 53), Richard Cobbs (Tape 20-2), Wilbur Collins (Tape 58), Anthony Dawson (Tape 16-2), James Dean (Tape 81), Catherine Benjamin Erving (Tape 7-1), Earnest Freeman (Tape 209), Jerome Goodman (Tape 44-2), Harrison Gant (Tape 7-1), Sylvester Grinage (Tape 59-1), William Harris (Tape 221), Thelma Henry (Tape 50), Mrs. Jackson (Tape 52-2), Carrie J. Jennings (Tape 198), Aaron Jones (Tape 52-2), Keyo Long (Tape 52-1), Merrill Lynch (Tape 11-2), LeRoy McChester (Tape 5-1), Marion M. and Alma McElroy (Tape 80), Art McKissick (Tape 57-2), Frances C. McNairy (Tape 15-2), Hezekiah Mickey (Tape 237), Clarence Myricks (Tape 13-2), Callie Nicholson (Tape 214), James Nicholson (Tape 211), Freeman Patton (Tape 2-1), Mr. Ross (Tape 82-2), Clyde M. Schatzman (Tape 14-1), Reuben Sayles (Tape 45), James L. Simmons (Tape 14-1), Sally Simpson (Tape 222), Lucille L. Smith (Tape 223), Willie Smith (Tape 5-2), Eli Stribling (Tape 57-1), Floyd Thompson (Tape 208), Vernon Urquhart (Tape 57-1), Albert Walker (Tape 46-1), Clarence Waters (Tape 48), Olive W. Wighting (Tape 212), Grant Winston (Tape 218), John Winters (Tape 10-2), Walter Worthington (Tape 83), and Queen E. Wright (Tape 207).