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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

[Monroe County (MI) oral histories]

Repository: Monroe County Library System. Ellis Reference and Information Center

Collection Description (CRHP): Dr. DeVries' required every student in his History 155 classes to record, on audio or video cassette, a 30- minute interview with one or more persons at least 65 years of age. Students were required to transcribe and type their conversations verbatim. Outstanding projects (tapes, transcripts, and release forms) were deposited in the Monroe County Library's Monroe Collection housed at the Ellis branch.

Narrators describe what life may have been like in many Northern towns with small scale mills and other industry; Virginia Caine Crenshaw, who grew up in one of the few black families in the area, describes congenial race relations for the most part, but other interviewees note the existence of segregated private facilities (e.g., Gwendolyn Hatcher, John Verhoeven, and Raymond Noble interviews), discrimination in employment, a KKK presence (Bird, Bashaw, and Forrest interviews), and the sensation caused by an interracial marriage at mid-century (e.g., W.C. Stanley, Bernard Lasette, Katherine Nims, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Vergho, and Charles Verhoeven interviews, which discuss the Brom(b)ley/Willette families). On labor conditions, see especially interviews with Earl Wright and Stephen Pipis. Interviewees also reveal general attitudes toward African American residents.

Collection Description (Extant): Over 200 oral histories of Monroe County residents have been accumulated through the combined efforts of Professor James DeVries of the Monroe Community College and the Monroe County Library System.

Access Copy Note: Some interviews have been digitized as WAV files and can be accessed via the Making of Modern Michigan portal, at

Collection URL: External Link

Date(s): 1981-2001

Digital Status: Partial

Extent: 200+ interviews, transcripts or abstracts

Language: English

Interviewees: Virginia Caine Crenshaw, Mary Graves, Gwendolyn Hatcher, Selma Krueger, Mary Licina, Raymond Noble, Mario Pace, Stanley Rozycki, Marguerite Stiffler, Iris Stocking, Louis Switney, Madeline Vitale, Peter Vuich, Earl Wrigh Anne Zast, Robert Zinner, John Giarmo, Ortha Parmelee, Ernest Bashaw, Kenneth Bird, Lucille Forrest

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African Americans--Michigan
Discrimination in employment
Discrimination in public accommodations
Interracial marriage
Ku Klux Klan (1915- )--Michigan
Michigan--Race relations


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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