Author: Mary Jane Wilson

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Negro pioneer teacher of Portsmouth, Virginia”

Former slave Mary Jane Wilson tells interviewer Thelma Dunston from the Virginia Writers Project in 1937 about her early childhood, her education and work as a teacher. This interview, along with other Virginia Writers Project interviews, offer a composite portrait of interviewees’ self-styled personal stories. Interviewers’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped their relationship and conversation with the interviewees. Although the interviews aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.