Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Nanci Ritter, April 4, 2022

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:43 - Introduction to Interview

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Partial Transcript: This is Brenna McGowan interviewing Nanci Ritter.

Segment Synopsis: McGowan introduces the interview with Ritter. McGowan states the date, time, and location of the interview.

Subjects: Oral Histories

00:01:02 - Family / Career

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Partial Transcript: All right, how about we start with having you describe a little bit about your background.

Segment Synopsis: Ritter describes briefly her family dynamic, as well as her entrance to college. She discusses her career in public education following the receipt of her degree from West Chester University.

Keywords: Northeast Philadelphia; Public education

Subjects: Philadelphia (Pa.); West Chester (Pa.); West Chester University of Pennsylvania

GPS: West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Map Coordinates: 39.95263026277758, -75.59812570270756
00:02:44 - Growing up in Philadelphia

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Partial Transcript: That's great. Okay, so can you talk about where you grew up?

Segment Synopsis: Ritter provides more detail on her experiences growing up in Northeast Philadelphia. She talks about her interactions with and the attitudes surrounding the race riots of the civil rights era of the 1960s in the city. She also describes where she went to high school and the demographic of the surrounding area.

Keywords: Northeast Philadelphia; Philadelphia race riots

Subjects: Civil Rights movement; Northeast High School (Philadelphia, Pa.); Philadelphia (Pa.); Race riots

GPS: Northeast High School in Northeast Philadelphia.
Map Coordinates: 40.05633998321289, -75.07035050270419
GPS: Central High School in Philadelphia.
Map Coordinates: 40.03757727868133, -75.15028471619868
00:07:13 - Academic Inspiration

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Partial Transcript: And you mentioned earlier that your family was not supportive of you going off to college.

Segment Synopsis: Ritter discusses her acceptance at West Chester University. She also describes why she selected Special Education as her choice of major. Ritter talks about the role that teachers played in her youth and development.

Subjects: Special education.; Teachers; West Chester (Pa.); West Chester University of Pennsylvania

GPS: West Chester University's Student Recreation Center, formerly the site of Ramsey Hall.
Map Coordinates: 39.95236972442836, -75.60330451620146
00:11:24 - Student Government / Veterans' Issues

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Partial Transcript: And so remind me, what years were you at West Chester?

Segment Synopsis: Ritter generally describes West Chester University's campus in the 1970s. She talks about the changing social freedoms of the time. Ritter defines her time spent in the Intercollegiate Governmental Association, West Chester University's former student governing body. Ritter touches on social issues, including the G.I. Bill and veterans' concerns. Lastly, Ritter describes geographical areas from West Chester's past.

Keywords: G.I. Bill; Intercollegiate Governmental Association

Subjects: Harrisburg (Pa.); Student government; Veterans.; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; West Chester (Pa.); West Chester University of Pennsylvania

00:20:11 - The Vietnam War on Campus

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Partial Transcript: So is there any other, outside of IGA, any other way that you were aware of activism surrounding the Vietnam War on West Chester’s campus at that time?

Segment Synopsis: Ritter describes the attitude towards the Vietnam War on campus. She talks about her interaction with the P.O.W. project, which was meant to raise awareness for prisoners of war from the Vietnam War. Ritter describes an experience with the Selective Service draft lottery. Ritter discusses the concern over children of American soldiers born to Vietnamese women.

Keywords: Agent Orange; Draft lotteries; P.O.W. bracelets; Selective Service (military draft)

Subjects: Amerasians; Prisoners of war.; Veterans; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; West Chester University of Pennsylvania

00:26:11 - Student Activism

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Partial Transcript: And you mentioned a little bit about, you know, general attitude towards the war on campus, right, that people were saying, just sort of, we're not sure about the direction of it.

Segment Synopsis: Ritter describes her political activism on the McGovern campaign in college. She talks about working to get funding for public colleges. Ritter also describes attitudes held by students and community members regarding activism. She talks about the practice of sit-ins in West Chester.

Keywords: Sit-ins; Student Activism

Subjects: Civil rights demonstrations; Harrisburg (Pa.); Student movements; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; West Chester University of Pennsylvania

GPS: Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, a site of some student related activism.
Map Coordinates: 40.05202833761932, -77.52461821960716
00:32:33 - Perceptions of the Vietnam War at West Chester University over time

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Partial Transcript: So you were at West Chester from ‘72 to ‘76.

Segment Synopsis: Ritter talks about how perceptions of the Vietnam War changed on campus over time. Ritter describes that, as the war was nearing its end during her time in college, many parts of campus life had returned to the state they had been in pre-war.

Subjects: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; West Chester University of Pennsylvania

GPS: Farrell Stadium, West Chester University's football field.
Map Coordinates: 39.93717847623511, -75.60117234689787
00:35:16 - Culture of the 1960s and 70s

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Partial Transcript: You touched a little bit a minute ago on music and the arts in that time period.

Segment Synopsis: Ritter talks about music and media culture in the 1960s and 70s. She describes how different groups musical acts would perform on campus. Ritter also discusses drive-in theaters, drug culture, and fashion sense. Ritter ends by talking about the advent of a Planned Parenthood location in West Chester.

Keywords: Drug culture; Planned Parenthood

Subjects: Drive-in theaters; Music; Planned Parenthood Federation of America.; Springsteen, Bruce.; West Chester (Pa.); West Chester University of Pennsylvania

GPS: West Chester University's Hollinger Fieldhouse.
Map Coordinates: 39.952162473739506, -75.6010495027076
GPS: West Chester's Planned Parenthood location.
Map Coordinates: 39.95690355041448, -75.61029622969532
00:38:42 - Women's Rights / Communication

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, can you talk more about the Planned Parenthood situation?

Segment Synopsis: Ritter describes the attitude surrounding Planned Parenthood in West Chester. She talks about the growth of women's rights, as well as the difficulty she felt balancing her school life with her home life. Ritter talks about campus communication, including a newspaper and a radio station.

Keywords: Planned Parenthood; Women's Rights movement

Subjects: Birth control; Contraception.; Family planning; Newspapers; Planned Parenthood Federation of America.; West Chester (Pa.); Women's rights.

GPS: West Chester University's Schmucker Hall, where Ritter's boyfriend spent much of his time.
Map Coordinates: 39.951552573049, -75.59918767387228
GPS: West Chester University's Lawrence Hall, the university's former student union.
Map Coordinates: 39.950962798864495, -75.60329213154306
00:45:12 - Lessons / Looking Back

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Partial Transcript: Ok, so, you know, looking back on that period of your life, those four years on campus, you know, what sort of lessons do you take away from that time, what do you feel like you really learned in that time?

Segment Synopsis: Ritter describes how she learned to be an active citizen from her friends. She also describes how she looks back on the Vietnam War era and how she believes America has grown since then. She discusses PTSD and veterans' issues. Ritter talks about how important she believes voting is in the modern day.

Keywords: Activism; Agent Orange; PTSD

Subjects: Post-traumatic stress disorder.; Student government; Veterans; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Voting; West Chester University of Pennsylvania

00:52:52 - Changing Political Beliefs / Current Activism

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Partial Transcript: Do you think there are any really substantial social or cultural changes between, you know, when you were on campus and now?

Segment Synopsis: Ritter talks about changes in political attitudes since the 1970s. She describes how current youth are more outspoken and angry than her generation was. She talks about the dangers of having a political agenda. Ritter describes her current activism within local township regulations. She ends by expressing that she is optimistic about young people today.

Keywords: Activism; Guns; Politics; Township regulations

Subjects: Gun control; Student movements.

01:00:25 - Vietnam War Today / Apathy

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Partial Transcript: So tying it back to the Vietnam War specifically, are there any lasting impacts of that that you're seeing today outside of, you talked about the veteran population a little bit?

Segment Synopsis: Ritter describes how she sees the Vietnam War affecting life today. She talks about veterans' issues as well as more current conflicts like Afghanistan and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. She describes how she appreciates student involvement, but fears the issue of apathy among the youth.

Keywords: Afghanistan War; The War in Afghanistan

Subjects: Apathy; Russia; Student movements; Ukraine; Veterans; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975