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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

Getting word oral history project

Repository: Monticello

Collection Description (CRHP): Project staff members have conducted 98 interviews with a total of 171 people. A few of these interviews deal with civil rights. The interview of Margaret Preacely covers her participation in the civil rights movement and SNCC and going to jail but in the context of her ancestry (William and Ellen Craft, William Monroe Trotter, her mother Ellen Craft Dammond)--how she is a 'continuation' of her ancestors in terms of her fight for equal rights. Her late mother was a participant in Wednesdays in Mississippi. Three interview subjects in particular deal with events during World War II. Jane Floyd gives a brief account of her fight to open the Catholic schools of St. Louis to black children. Col. James Wiley spoke at length of his harrowing experience as a Tuskegee airman, when he was nearly killed on a training flight in Florida as a result, as he strongly believed, of sabotage by KKK sympathizers. From George Pettiford, project staff heard how he was persistently assigned to a white naval regiment because of his appearance, but he insisted on joining a black unit, knowing full well the treatment he could expect. A number of other interviews reveal the different ways blacks in the first half of the twentieth century responded to the abridgment of their civil rights.

Collection Description (Extant): The Getting Word oral history project at Monticello locates and records the oral histories of the descendants of Monticello's enslaved families. This rich treasurehouse of memories over seven generations helps to expand our understanding of life at Monticello two hundred years ago. Oral interviews are supplemented with research in newspapers, private papers, and public records.
Since 1993, Getting Word staff have traveled over 40,000 miles, interviewing descendants all over the United States, from Alabama to Ohio and Massachusetts to California. By the beginning of 2008, over 170 people had contributed to the project by sharing their family stories, as well as photographs and memorabilia.

An exhibit on the project opened in the summer of 1997 on the occasion of the Getting Word Gathering, a weekend event that brought more than a hundred descendants of Monticello's African-American community back to the mountaintop their ancestors left over 150 years ago. The text and images in the exhibit form the core of this web site, which has been supplemented by material published in annual Getting Word newsletters and various scholarly publications. This web site was redesigned and expanded in 2007 by Allen Miller. Text is by Allen Miller, Lucia Stanton, and Dianne Swann-Wright, unless otherwise noted.

The Getting Word project, a program of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., which owns and operates Monticello, has received support from the Coca-Cola Company, the Ford Foundation, the River Branch Foundation, and the Virginia Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy.

Access Copy Note: Interviews between 1993 and 1996 were audio only (DAT). Since 1996 project staff have recorded in both audio and video format (Hi-8). Up to this point project staff have not allowed anyone access to the tapes or transcripts. Once their book is completed on their findings, project staff will allow their tapes and transcripts to be open for research purposes. They anticipate these materials will be open in 2011 or 2012 at the latest (deposited in the Jefferson Library at Monticello and perhaps other repositories).

Collection URL: External Link

Date(s): 1993-2007

Digital Status: Partial

Extent: photographs; audio recordings; digital video recordings (Hi8 format); digital audio recordings (Hi8 format)

Language: English

Interviewees: Margaret Preacely, Jane Floyd, James Wiley, George Pettiford

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


African Americans--Civil rights
Discrimination in the military
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826--Family
Monticello (Va.)
Segregation in education--Missouri--St. Louis
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)
United States. Army Air Forces. Composite Group, 477th
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, African American


Sound recordings


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   September 26, 2018
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