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Oral Histories

This list of oral history collections is under development. If you know of additional collections, please email Ken Middleton (


Anderson County

Center for Oak Ridge Oral History (Oak Ridge Public Library) The topics of schools and desegregation are discussed frequently in this collection of more than 300 interviews.

Bobby and Margo Cain (Nashville Public Library)
“Cain discusses the mood of the community prior to his first day of school during the desegregation of Clinton High School.”

Clay County

Monologue with 72 year old white female, Clay County, Tennessee
This interview with a former teacher is part of American English Dialect Recordings Collection at the Library of Congress. She taught at Hermitage Springs, Oak Grove, Popular Bluff, and Union Hill.

Davidson County

Nashville Public Library offers audio clips of interviews with former students and teachers:

James H. Crowder on attending Bellevue School and Pearl High School.

Mildred Owsley Buchanan (1902-2000), a home economics teacher in Nashville city schools from the late 1920s-1963.

King M. Hollands (born 1941) Clip 1: School integration at Father Ryan's High School.

Alice Smith Risby, Clip 1 - Desegregation of Nashville’s public schools in 1957.

Louise Mott Miles (Middle Tennessee Oral History Collection, Albert Gore Research Center, MTSU)
Miles taught at Central High School in Nashville. The Gore Center has developed an online exhibit, Louise Mott Miles: Progressive Women's History, as well as a Twitter feed of Miles' diary of student life at the Middle Tennessee State Teachers College in the 1920s.

Hardin County

Thelma Lockhart (Middle Tennessee Oral History Collection, Albert Gore Research Center, MTSU)
Lockhart (born 1919) provides numerous details about attending Hardin County Central High School in Savannah. This segment begins at about 33 minutes into the interview.

Lawrence County

Ethel Young Benson (Middle Tennessee Oral History Collection, Albert Gore Research Center, MTSU)

Maury County

Bulea Davis (Middle Tennessee Oral History Collection, Albert Gore Research Center, MTSU)

Rutherford County

The Middle Tennessee Oral History Project (Albert Gore Research Center, MTSU) offers online access to audio recordings of more than 500 interviews. This page provides direct links to the 20-plus interviews that cover Rutherford County schools particularly well.


Shelby County

Crossroads to Freedom (Rhodes College)

Interview with Northside High School Alums

Earline Duncan describes school integration in Memphis from her perspective as a teacher.

Interview with Maxine Smith

The University of Memphis Libraries offers the following inteviews with formaer teachers:

Belle McWilliams

Smith County

Willie Winfree (Middle Tennessee Oral History Collection, Albert Gore Research Center, MTSU)
Winfrey (born 1936) describes his experience at Cooper School, a one-room school that had from 15 to 20 students. This segment begins at about 8 min., 40 sec. into the interview.

Stewart County

The Land Between the Lakes Oral History Collection (Murray State University Special Collections & Archives) includes interviews with the following former Stewart County teachers. Helen Lancaster (1913- ) taught at the Blue Spring School and later served as principal at the Tharpe School; Sallie Martin (1901- ) began teaching at Stewart County High School in 1919 at the age of eighteen, and later taught at Fort Henry and Dover until her retirement in 1966. Clyde Spiceland (1905- ) started his first teaching position at Bell Wood School soon after graduating from Dover High School in 1924; he was also a teacher and the principal at Model School. Christine Griffin Whitford (1913- ), who began her teaching career in 1933 at Hutchen School, also taught at the elementary school at Dover.

Trousdale County

Blanche McClure (Middle Tennessee Oral History Collection, Albert Gore Research Center, MTSU)
Blanche McClure (born 1924) attended Trousdale County Elementary and High School. This short segment begins at about 7 min., 30 sec. into the interview.

Select the collections to add or remove from your search