The Ohio County Public Library launched the Wheeling Memory Project as a contribution to the ongoing community effort to record oral histories from Wheeling’s residents. The project will focus on stories of life in Wheeling’s diverse neighborhoods.
Series One: Ann Thomas, Growing Up in Jim Crow Wheeling
Series one features Ann Prince Thomas, a pioneer and witness to history. She was just six months old when her mother moved to Wheeling from a North Carolina tobacco farm to help Ann’s aunt and uncle run the New Dixie Restaurant on Chapline Street in the middle of what was, at the time, an established African-American neighborhood.
Ann grew up during the era of “Jim Crow” (government sanctioned, racial segregation) and witnessed the turbulent transition to desegregation. From first grade, she attended Lincoln (Wheeling’s segregated school), but thanks to the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), she graduated from Wheeling High School in 1956.
After graduation, Ann enrolled in the Ohio Valley General Hospital’s school of nursing, and in 1959, she became the first African American to graduate.
The Wheeling Memory Project is pleased to present Ann Thomas’s story, in her own words.
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