Interview with Elizabeth Jewell Davis, January 23, 1992

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

Interview Summary

Elizabeth Jewell Davis, niece of Mary Frances Jewell McVey, begins this interview by talking about the custom of attending family funerals by invitation only. She discusses some of her family's history while reading birth dates of various relatives from the family Bible. Throughout this interview, Davis discusses at great length the interpersonal relationships of the Jewell family, her aunt's marriage to Dr. Frank L. McVey, and gives descriptions of everyday life and customs of the area. Her father was John Barry Jewell, her mother was Mary Anderson Worthington Jewell and Davis had twin brothers, John and Charles. She was born in Pleasantview, Wilmore, Kentucky in 1916. Her family moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 1920. Davis recalls John Jacob Niles entertaining the family and guests at supper. She talks about her aunt, Mary Frances Jewell McVey, and says she was called "Aunt Frank" by the family. Davis attended Pine Manor in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and stayed at Maxwell Place while taking classes at U.K. Davis mentions she married her husband in 1942, and states he was number one in his class at U.K., and that his good friend, Bert T. Combs (Governor of Kentucky 1959-1963) was number two. Davis notes that Frances did not have children but states "it must have been God's will, because she helped so many U.K. students who came from the mountains to adjust to life in town." She notes that Frances McVey was one of the founders of the Junior League of Lexington. Davis talks about the racial climate of the time, where black people were not invited into white people's homes, but says that Frances Jewell McVey came back from Vassar and proceeded to work with people in the black community, to create a woman's culture on campus, and worked hard for more opportunities for women. She mentions her aunt's close friendship with Sarah Blanding, U.K.'s Dean of Women and the first female President of Vassar College. Davis says Dr. Frank McVey and her aunt "had a beautiful relationship." Davis talks about the impact her aunt had on people's lives and recalls that this was evidenced at her funeral, which was very well attended, and remembers that the flowers covered the floor of church. Davis mentions details about her aunt's will and talks about her aunt's illness; McVey developed lung cancer and had a lung removed. Frances McVey died at the age of 55.

Interview Accession

1992oh068_af461

Interviewee Name

Elizabeth Jewell Davis

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1992-01-23

Interview Rights

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Davis, Elizabeth Jewell Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 23 Jan. 1992. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Davis, E.J. (1992, January 23). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Davis, Elizabeth Jewell, interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. January 23, 1992, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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