Dr. Ancella Bickley, a teacher, author, professor, and historian, experienced both integration and segregation in her lifetime. She remembers the private entrance and balcony seating of African Americans in her hometown movie theatre. While a student at West Virginia State, she realized white universities were not hiring African Americans as professors, so she considered herself lucky to sit in classrooms taught by some of the best and brightest professors in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Dr. Bickley, was born in Huntington, WV on July 4, 1930. She is a graduate of West Virginia State College (Bachelor’s Degree in English), Marshall University, the first full time African American student at Marshall, (Master’s Degree in English) and West Virginia University (Doctorate in English).
After serving as both a faculty member and administrator at West Virginia State University, she retired and began to research, investigate, and report on the experiences of African Americans in this state. She conducted research, studied oral histories, wrote articles, and compiled books to this end. The West Virginia State Archives Library has an “Ancella Bickley Collection” which includes correspondence, transcripts, minutes, and other materials related to the Annual West Virginia Conference on Black History that began in 1988.
Dr. Ancella Bickley is interviewed by Bill Drennen, Commissioner of the WV Division of Culture and History, in 1993, as part of the Cultural Conversations series. 30 minutes.
The Remarkable Story of a Black Appalachian Woman. Ancella R. Bickley and Lynda Ann Ewen, editors; historical afterword by Joe Trotter. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2001.
In Spite of Obstacles: A History of the West Virginia Schools for the Colored Deaf and Blind, 1926-1955. Institute, WV Dept. of Education and the Arts, 2001.
Our Mount Vernons: Historic Register Listings of Sites Significant to the Black History of West Virginia. Ancella Bickley
Honoring Our Past: Proceedings of the First Two Conferences on West Virginia’s Black History. Edited by Joe William Trotter, Jr. and Ancella Radford Bickley. Charleston, WV: Alliance for the Collection, Preservation and Dissemination of West Virginia’s Black History, 1991.
History of the West Virginia State Schools Association. Washington: National Education Association. 1979.
Transcript of interview with Ancella Bickley, June 21, 1992, for the Film “West Virginia.” Ancella Bickley answers questions about the early life of African Americans in West Virginia.
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