Interview with Howard W. Beers, September 5, 1997

Project: University of Kentucky: The African American Experience Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Dr. Howard W. Beers is a retired (1974) Professor Emeritus of Rural Sociology at the University of Kentucky. He attended Cornell University, received his Ph.D. in Rural Sociology, and recalls coming to Lexington in 1939 after "various experiences at several universities" to fill a vacancy at UK. Beers was a full professor in the College of Agriculture's Department of Farm Economics. The Department of Rural Sociology was not established until 1948, Beers states, where he would be the first professor of that department. At this point, Beers chooses to read to the interviewer from a journal manuscript. He reads from what he calls a 'long letter home', written to his family in 1979, when he was 75 years old. He was 92 at the time of this interview. Beers describes his reluctance to move South with his family to accept the position at UK, citing the racial climate. Beers recalls experiences up North to explain this. He also discusses the racial climate in Lexington.

Beers also relates his approach to racial issues while teaching, detailing a session where he presented results of WWI intelligence tests where, in some cases, black soldiers scored higher than whites. He described this tactic as 'low key', 'safe', and 'educational' rather than 'aggressive, demonstrative, and confrontational'. Beers also recalls an A.A.U.P. meeting in the late 1940s where a committee meeting was formed to study admission of African Americans to UK. He also remembers a dinner at the "firmly and traditionally segregated" Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky at which Senator Alben Barkley helped to smoothly desegregate. Beers also talks about his later years at UK where he was involved in various overseas programs.

Interview Accession

2000oh075_af604

Interviewee Name

Howard W. Beers

Interviewer Name

Sharon Childs

Interview Date

1997-09-05

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Beers, Howard W. Interview by Sharon Childs. 05 Sep. 1997. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Beers, H.W. (1997, September 05). Interview by S. Childs. University of Kentucky: The African American Experience Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Beers, Howard W., interview by Sharon Childs. September 05, 1997, University of Kentucky: The African American Experience Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7fqz22fn64