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00:00:00 - Early life as Washtenaw tenant farmers

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Partial Transcript: WILLIAMS: Oh, does that take picture, too?

MARSHALL: No, it, uh,

WILLIAMS: Just it, conversation.

MARSHALL: Yeah. Main thing is I wanted for us to be able to see that little red light bulb.

WILLIAMS: Oh. (laughs)

MARSHALL: I guess one of the main things we’re after, or the first things we’ll be interested in is um, something about your early life here in Ypsilanti.

Segment Synopsis: Ruth Marshall, the wife and co-worker of A.P. Marshall interviews Mrs. Williams about her early life in the Ypsilanti area, growing up on Forest Avenue on the city's east side.

Keywords: 4353 Forest Avenue; 722 Norris Street; Adams School; Flat Iron factory; Forest Avenue; Fourth Ward School; Fowler School; Ridge Road; Superior Township, Washtenaw County; Ypsilanti, Michigan; black women domestic workers; northern black tenant farmers

Subjects: African American families. African American farmers.

00:05:02 - Grade School at the Normal College

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Partial Transcript: WILLIAMS: So we went, we enrolled up there, and I, my sister enrolled in the first grade, but that was in a different building from what I was. I was in the training school, and, uh, she was in the normal, proper [one]. And her teacher’s name was Miss Jackson, first grade teacher. But my, I don’t know what, I would’ve, I would, I was started in the fourth grade, and, uh, my teacher’s name was Miss Plunkett. That’s all in there.

MARSHALL: I was going to say, that’s all in here.


Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Williams describes her grade school education at the Normal College training school, domestic arts and the teachers she remembers.

Keywords: Michigan State Normal College; Miss Jackson; Miss Plunkett; Mrs. Swaine; Swaine family; black students at Normal schools

Subjects: African Americans--Education--History. Home economics.

00:08:09 - Memories of Brown Chapel A.M.E.

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Um, when did you become associated with Brown Chapel?

WILLIAMS: When I was nine years old. But I don’t know, I, for the life of me I don’t know when it was changed to Brown Chapel, got to be Brown Chapel. It was just the A.M.E. church, see, that’s all it was, just the A.M.E. church but, I wa—when, and then I, I went—when I finished the eighth grade up there, I never had to take, um, a final test in spelling because I was always a good speller. My spelling average was 100.

MARSHALL: Do you remember much about the um, I’m trying to think now at the same time, uh, much about the remodeling that they did at Brown Chapel, in changing the way it looked?

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Williams shares her memories of Brown Chapel A.M.E. and the church's rebuilding around 1900.

Keywords: 1904; A.P. Marshall; Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church; Bun Henry; Cross Street; Mrs. Peterson; Rev. Collins; Rev. Lewis Pettiford; Underground Railroad; Ypsilanti

Subjects: African American churches. Underground Railroad.

00:11:39 - The Rosebud Club and social life

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: What did you do as a young person for well, social life, social activities? You name some things here, but I thought maybe you might have remembered some other things that you did.

WILLIAMS: Well, there was a Albert Anderson and his wife had lived, well, the, the house was, the buildings are all torn down now, but he lived, he built a home, a nice home, on the corner of, um, of Washington Street and Harriet Street. It was, it was a real nice home. The, the house was still there, oh, they just tore it down this last year. And, um, he and his wife lived there, and he, uh, y’know, I’m, I’m going to say something and then another thought’ll come in my mind, and I, I lose what I was gonna say.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Williams discusses social life as a young woman and the founding of the Rosebud Club for Ypsilanti African-American girls.

Keywords: Alfred Anderson; Bessie Crosby; Brown Chapel AME; Frances Lyons, Gladys Lyons; Harriet St.; Hazel Carter; Mabel Carter; Rosebud Club; South Hamilton St.; South Washington St.; Ypsilanti; black women's clubs

Subjects: African Americans -- Social life and customs.

00:16:38 - First marriage and Flat Rock

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Well, when did you pick up this yen for writing?

WILLIAMS: For writing?


Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Williams describes her first marriage, difficulties with her mother-in-law and life in Flat Rock, Michigan before returning to the Ypsilanti area. She also briefly discusses her newsletter and history writing.

Keywords: Flat Rock, Michigan; Walter Williams; Ypsilanti, Michigan; rural racism in Michigan

Subjects: Marriage. African American families.

00:19:35 - Memories of Old Ypsi

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Partial Transcript: MARSHALL: Uh, what do you remember, and I know that you had some things here, um, uh, where some of the, well, the outstanding buildings, other than you had in here, that Ypsilanti had, or stores…

WILLIAMS: Yeah, and hotels…

MARSHALL: And hotels.

WILLIAMS: They had three hotels. Mm-hmm.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Marshall discuss Genevieve's memories of Ypsilanti including of black businesses, the hotels in town and an early Ypsilanti African-American doctor, John Dickerson.

Keywords: African-American doctors; Alfred Anderson; Amos Washington; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Anna Harris; Cross St.; Dr. John Dickerson; Forest Avenue; Harriet St.; Hawkins House Hotel; Hotel; Huron Hotel; Lewis Hotel; Michigan Avenue; Mrs. Dickerson; Mrs. Howell; Norris St.; Occidental; Pittsburgh Courier; Sam Travis; Sam's Party Store; Thomas Roadman; Tommy Washington; Washington Brothers Grocery Store; black businesses; black women domestic workers; black women society columns

Subjects: Hotels. African American physicians. African American business enterprises.

00:28:57 - Ypsilanti's special relationship with Canada

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Partial Transcript: WILLIAMS: I had a pretty interesting life, but y’know, just here and there. And then, you see, my, my mother’s brothers, well, as I said in there, all the colored people that lived in Ypsilanti at that time came from Canada, see. They didn’t come from the South, they came from Canada. And, uh, some of them came here, now, like the Kersey family, George Kersey and Jim Kersey, worked on that church when it was being built, well, they, they both came from Canada, but they were younger and they had their families here, see. And they came over here because there was nothing to do over in Canada and they could take care of their families better here, make a better living for their family, I’ll say that, then they could over there, just the same as the people from way down south, now, Mississippi, and, and Georgia, and Alabama and all those places—those people came up here, they just flocked up here, when Henry Ford started paying $5 a day for, for labor.

MARSHALL: Yep, I remember.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Williams discusses families coming from Canada to settle in Ypsilanti, like her mother's, and the development of First and Second Avenues by families like the Crosbys and Kersey's.

Keywords: "Kerseyville"; Amos Washington; Black Canadians; Detroit, Michigan; First Avenue; Fred Swift; Frederick St.; George Kersey; Gilbert Residences; Great Migration; Hattie Swift; Henry Ford; Indiana; Irene Kersey; James Kersey; John Williams; Jones Family; Laura Walker; Madison St.; Marie Kersey; Monroe St.; Newton Swift; Nina Kersey; Prince Hall Mason; River St.; Second Avenue; Swift family home; migration from Canada to Ypsilanti

Subjects: African American families. Canada -- Emigration and immigration. United States -- Emigration and immigration.