Beginnings

  • Gertrude S. Williams
  • Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)

Abstract

In 1930, 70 percent of the black residents of Philadelphia were migrants, and the largest number of them (18.9 percent) had come from Virginia.1 Among them were Gertrude Williams’s father, Horace Williams, her mother, Mamie Wallace Williams, and six of her siblings. Gertrude made seven; an eighth child would be born in Philadelphia. Horace’s youngest sister, Emma, also came with them. Their exact reasons for leaving Orange County, Virginia we do not know. But even a cursory examination of that locale’s history, social structure, and economy is suggestive.

Keywords

Corn Depression Steam Income Flare 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Frederick Miller, “The Black Migration to Philadelphia: A 1924 Profile,” in African Americans in Pennsylvania, ed. Joe William Trotter Jr. and Eric Ledell Smith (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and State University Press, 1997) 289.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    W.W. Scott, A History of Orange County Virginia (Richmond: Everett Waddy Co., 1907) 114.Google Scholar
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  4. 6.
    Scott, History of Orange County, 50. The WPA Writers’ Program, Virginia, The Negro in Virginia (reprint; New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1969) 269–270. Emily J. Salmon and Edward D.C. Campbell, The Hornbook of Virginia History (Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1994) 53, 98.Google Scholar
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  12. 32.
    Clarence Taylor, Knocking at Our Own Door (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997) 17–19.Google Scholar
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  16. 38.
    See Allan M. Winkler, “The Philadelphia Transit Strike of 1944,” Journal of American History LIX. 1 (June 1972), 73–88. See Franklin for a summary of racial unrest and black protest in Philadelphia during Gertrude’s formative years: an extensive “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign in the early 1930s; a riot in 1934; an attack by a white mob on a black child in 1940; black families driven out of white neighborhoods in 1941 and 1942; as well as reports throughout the period in the black press of violent incidents in the public schools. Franklin, The Education of Black Philadelphia, 118–119, 159, 169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Karen Fields, “What One Cannot Remember Mistakenly,” in History and Memory in African-American Culture, ed. Geneviève Fabre and Robert O’Meally (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994) 158.Google Scholar
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    Hortense Powdermaker, After Freedom (New York: 1939) 299–300; quoted in Clara A. Hardin, “The Negroes of Philadelphia,” Ph.D Thesis, Bryn Mawr College, 1945, 166.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gertrude S. Williams and Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gertrude S. Williams
  • Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson

There are no affiliations available

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