Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Frances Smallwood, August 12, 2010

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:09 - Introductions / Smallwood's time at Tuskegee

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Partial Transcript: Well today is August the twelfth, and it is approximately, uh, it is eleven twenty-eight a.m.

Segment Synopsis: Smallwood discusses her career and her education at Tuskegee University in Alabama. She notes that her father worked under Booker T. Washington as an instructor in printing, and she refuses to comment on the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

Keywords: Booker T. Washington; Historically black colleges; Hospice of the Bluegrass; Lexington (Ky.); Registered nurse; Trade school; Tuskegee Institute; Tuskegee University; Tuskegee syphilis experiment; Typesetting

Subjects: African American universities and colleges; Class reunions; Courtship; Graduation (School); Hospice care; Printing; Universities and colleges

00:09:52 - Meeting her husband / reflecting on old age

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Partial Transcript: I was waiting for the girl to park the car.

Segment Synopsis: Smallwood describes how she met her husband at a Tuskegee class reunion. She also comments on the advice the elderly can give to younger people, such as that of her own grandmother, who was alive for the emancipation of American slaves.

Keywords: Centenarians; Lexington (Ky.); Mt. Brilliant Farm, Lexington (Ky.); The Today Show; Tuskegee University

Subjects: Class reunions; Courtship; Older people; Slaves--Emancipation; Universities and colleges

00:14:43 - Choosing Meharry College

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Partial Transcript: I was out of college one month, and I thought, "I don't wanna teach school. Hell, I don't wanna teach!"

Segment Synopsis: Smallwood recounts her decision to begin nursing school rather than teach. She notes the difficulty of pursuing a nursing degree at the time she did, particularly in light of segregation, but she is thankful for making that decision.

Keywords: Howard University; Meharry Medical College, Nashville (Tenn.); Tuskegee University

Subjects: African American universities and colleges; Careers; Nursing; Universities and colleges

00:17:48 - Funerals / fried chicken

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Partial Transcript: Well talking abo--we talked about your dad for a little bit. What about your mom?

Segment Synopsis: Smallwood discusses her siblings and other family members. She gives her modest plans for her funeral, and recalls foods she can no longer fully enjoy due to her illness.

Keywords: Church funerals; Funerals; Langston University; Organic food

Subjects: African American universities and colleges; Families; Food intolerance; Funeral rites and ceremonies; Grandchildren

00:22:55 - Memories from Tuskegee

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Partial Transcript: Well I wanted you to know too that anytime you don't feel up to it, or you just don't want to talk, you just let me know and I can easily turn this off.

Segment Synopsis: Smallwood insists again that she does not want to discuss the syphilis experiment. Instead she talks about her memory of George Washington Carver teaching at Tuskegee, as well as the Tuskegee choir, which held an engagement at the opening of Radio City Music Hall in the early 1930s. Smallwood also continues to talk about her dietary restrictions.

Keywords: Alabama; Eleanor Roosevelt; George Washington Carver; Radio City Music Hall; Sunday school; Tuskegee Choir; Tuskegee University; Tuskegee syphilis experiment

Subjects: African American universities and colleges; Food intolerance; Radio

00:34:07 - Comments on work and generational divide

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Partial Transcript: They so--no, the children so, so damn lazy.

Segment Synopsis: Smallwood and the interviewer discuss the way people of older generations have a truer knowledge of hardship than younger people. Smallwood prides herself on working hard, paying bills on time, and keeping herself in good health for the most part.

Keywords: Alabama; George Washington Carver; Race; Working

Subjects: Children; Conflict of generations; Hospice care; Old age