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Archival Collections

Oral Histories

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Janet Cheatham Bell
IU Bloomington, B.A. English in 1964

Portrait of Janet Cheatham Bell

When asked if there were advocates on campus for her after experiencing racism from a faculty member: 

When I was a student here, there was one black faculty member here. One. He was in the music department. We all knew who he was because he was THE black faculty member. There were no black staff, administration, personnel, nothing. There was no one to go to. There was no way of knowing if a white person was sympathetic. I mean, you can’t look at them and tell. If there had been a black staff member in the student office, we might have gone to them, but there wasn’t anybody. So we thought of ourselves as being marooned, basically. All we had was each other. And not one of us had any power or influence…so where were we to go? We were just on our own.


Ramona Holsinger
IU Bloomington, M.S. Education in 1948
*Ramona was 100 years old when she gave this interview.

Roman Holsinger in old age

Remembering a walk to class: 

Well, I started down this walk this one morning. The dogs met us and we’re walking along, and all of a sudden…back in those days, your panties didn’t have the right kind of elastic in them. And I am walking along the square with my little dogs, and all of a sudden, the elastic gave away and my pretty pink underwear...I am realizing I no longer have my pink panties up around my waist. They are down around my feet! And my little dog stopped while I went to take care of my pink panties, to pull them up, you know. And I happen to look up, and there’s this house sitting there, and this man is sitting up there on the porch, and he’s laughing. I felt so embarrassed. I said, “Oh my Lord, what am I going to do? What can I do?” Well, you can’t do anything but reach down and pull them up. So, I reached down and pulled them up, and I saw him up there laughing. I didn’t know what to do, so I waved at him. And bless his heart, he waved back!