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Interview with Barbara Oldwine

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Oldwine, Barbara ; O'Neil, Dan


Barbara Oldwine talks about her life in Binghamton, NY beginning with her childhood, her education at Fisk University, and her position with the Department of Social Services. She discusses her working experiences, the merger of welfare facilities, and her husband's experience at IBM. She discusses her views on racial discrimination in education and work fields, as well as the discrimination her family was subjected to. She discusses her community activity, such as the Urban League, American Association of University Women, Planned Parenthood and the YWCA.




This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as: Broome County Oral History Project, Special Collections, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections for more information.

Date Modified


Is Part Of

Broome County Oral History Project


37:47 Minutes ; 15:05 Minutes


Broome County Oral History Project

Interview with: Barbara Oldwine

Interviewed by: Dan O’Neil

Date of interview: 1 March 1978

Dan: Barbara, would you tell me something about your life and working experiences in the community starting from the time of birth—OK?

Barbara: I was born in the City of Binghamton at Binghamton General Hospital and the first place that I could call home was 20 Front Street, which was on the corner of Front and Riverside Drive. It would be interesting to know that the old Memorial—the Memorial Bridge that we now know in 1978 was not up then, so in order to get to the west side, you crossed Court Street Bridge. I stayed there as a girl until I moved to 24, pardon me, 41 Broad Avenue, which is in the 12th Ward. My education began at Alexander Hamilton School—kindergarten—it was Miss Manning as the principal. In Junior High I went to West Junior. I there had a half a term at Central and graduated from North High in February, 1941—we had midterm graduations at that time. I left Binghamton then and went to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree, magna cum laude. My degree was History and English and like many women at that time, I was married to a serviceman who was at many places never dreaming that we would live back in Binghamton. When it was his decision to go to school under the G.l. Bill, we moved back to Binghamton in the house of my parents at 41 Broad Avenue—stayed there until we bought the home on Gaylord Street. Following his education, my husband became associated with IBM. He was the third Black man ever hired by that corporation. My career began with the Department of Social Services ah then known as the Welfare Department. Lounsberry was the Mayor and Mr. Robinson was the Commissioner and our office then was at 71 Collier Street which is now a big City parking ramp in 1978. I worked continuously for the Social Services Department for some 32 years and it was merged with the County under the direction of Mr. Libous and Mr. Crawford. When we talk about what I faced in the community as a member of the group of Black Americans and what minority problems we might have had, it might be interesting to know that one of he first things to happen while I was a Field Worker in the Department of Social Services—an applicant recipient called the agency and decided that they did not wish to be interviewed—to participate in a cash grant—if the interviewer was going to be a Black American. Mr. Robinson informed them that the interviewer was fine, based on ability and they were needed in the program that they must be interviewed, and that ended that confrontation or that problem, handled directly by the Administration. The most difficult time Neil and I faced was a returning couple to the community needing a place to live, having made a decision to first live with parents while he was getting the Degree and Percy Rex was Rector of my church—Trinity Memorial Episcopal—corner of Oak and Main at that time and he appealed to landlords who had been people who owned property that were members of our church, to give an apartment to this young couple—returning G.I. and veteran and his wife and we wouldn’t be strangers because I had been baptized in Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in infancy and gone to that entire church, to the church school—my husband and I had married there and it had been our first child—it had then been ah born ah baptized there but no one came forward to give us a house and that was rather scarring and very hurting. Our decision then that we would move into the Veterans’ temporary housing, which was on the McArthur Tract and these people will recall was just the old quonset hut—McArthur School is now standing there—but they were operated by the City of Binghamton and although discrimination had first been observed in Veterans' Housing ah the first group of veterans who tried to move into the housing over on the Webster Court area and I think if you would recalled one—the veterans had to pitch a tent on the Courthouse lawn—that man was John Scanks and he too had served in WWII but he had broken the barrier so when Neil and I moved into temporary housing for veterans on McArthur ah Tract, we did not face any problem at that point. Our then goal was to face sufficient money to use the G.I. Bill and get a loan and purchase a home since renting was not possible. Well it wasn’t an easy task to purchase the home—the small down payment that we had at Binghamton Savings—I'm sure the loan people or the people of the accounts there wondered what Cornelius and Barbara Oldwine were doing because we kept drawing $500 out on one day and putting it back on the next. What was happening was we were taking the money in good faith when we had gone with the real estate broker to look at property to try to purchase a modest home and the owner would decide then that even though they were not going to reside in the home themselves, they were going to sell and move away, that their neighbors would not want to have a young Black American couple there and of course at that time we did not have the laws against discrimination on the books of the State of New York and this was exercised several times against Neil and I and I think I have to give credit to a man by the name of Mr. Balin, who was a real estate dealer in the locality who came upon a home which we now still occupy, that was in an Estate and we were able to purchase this modest home at 24 Gaylord Street without any difficulty and we were given the ah G.I. Loan though the Binghamton Savings Bank—Mr. ah Cornelius is the President and we faced no discrimination in getting the loan at that time. An interesting thing happened to us as we became residents of Gaylord Street, 12th Ward Bingahmton—had two small girls then—one 6 and one 4—oldest girl was Eileen, our youngest daughter was Valerie and I went to business and I had a wonderful woman, Mrs. Stringham, as my housekeeper who came each day to assist me with the children and part of her plan was to take our 4 year old at 10 o'clock in the morning—walk and entertain her and let her have fresh air and one of my neighbors across the street had a 4 year old, whose grandmother was the loving, caring person but when Mrs. Stringham would bring Valerie out to play, this other grandmother would take this other 4 year old back in and I thought badly about that because what do 4 year olds know? They probably would have just played dolls and pushed carriages and Mrs. Stringham, who was my trusted housekeeper, ah was really concerned about that because she was a white American who was helping me to care for my children and the neighbors who always took their children in, were also white Americans—but you know that soon passed ’cause the children started playing and it didn't matter how the adults felt. They transcended that misunderstanding. We've lived on Gaylord Street now approximately 20 years and I couldn’t have better neighbors or more caring people. We are doing things together now that all neighbors do—help with the snow, get cars unshoveled—particularly conscious of that in this weather, take collections when somebody dies, cook a cake when a baby is born and rejoice and those things that were so terrible for that neighborhood in 1952, when Black Americans first came, really passed. They found out that Cornelius and Barbara Oldwine were going to work, make a living, mow grass, raise children, have sadness and happiness, and we've really become a strong unit on Gaylord Street and with people loving and caring about each other.

Dan: Fine ah now you mentioned that when you first got married you moved in with your ah parents?

Barbara: Right.

Dan: And ah did they own their own home?

Barbara: Yes they did.

Dan: Did they have any trouble acquiring that?

Barbara: Unfortunately the story about my father and mother acquiring the house on Broad Avenue ah is rather gruesome. My father and mother ah came to Binghamton in 1920 and it’s an interesting story because ah they were living in Manhattan and had to catch the Ferry and had to go to Hoboken and get on the old D.L. & W. so indeed they were immigrants. They were coming from Brunswick County, Virginia, and had worked in Manhattan but after that, placed in the mail by Mrs. Dunn—Mabel Dunn ah guess it was Mabel Dunn Eggleston, because she had been married to Dr. Eggleston who was a psychiatrist that had passed. The plan was that my parents, Mary E. and William A. Harris, would be the caretaker and housekeeper for her at 20 Front Street, because she was going to go abroad and she made an interesting plan. She would pay the way from Manhattan to Binghamton—they would work the year—they were satisfied they could stay—if they were dissatisfied, she would give them the fare back to New York and they could seek other employment. Well, needless to say, my parents came in 1920 and my dear father passed in 1973 and my mother is still alive and they made Binghamton their home. Now when he took a job with Mrs. Welden, part of your wages was to have ah quarters as caretaker but my father was an ambitious man and knew this was a satisfactory plan but you needed to have your roots and roots were acquired by property. He had come from a farm family that owned ground in Brunswick County, Bracey, Virginia, and he was able to save and he sought to purchase the house on 41 Broad Avenue approximately in the year 1931 and everybody will remember Mr. Bauman as a great real estate dealer ah Sec—located in Security Mutual and his wife—his son is now the surgeon Dr. Bauman here locally and ah he found no harm in taking my father's hard earned money that had been saved and purchased 41 Broad Avenue—but it came to the attention of my father that the neighbors in that community wrote a letter to then Mr. Benjamin F. Welden, who was the President of Sisson Brothers, Welden Company. Mrs. Eggleston had been married to Mr. Welden and they had suggested that Mr. Welden would make certain that my father would cease and desist in purchasing the property on 41 Broad Avenue. Well, of course, Mr. Welden had no such plan as my father’s earnings and conserving his savings and ah Mr. Bauman had made the arrangement as a real estate dealer so my parents then did purchase the home. Now we did have some unpleasant circumstances in that neighborhood in that ah people again didn't wish to speak, and I don't know why that was, but when WWII came by—many young men left and went to the Service. My Father was called in the draft but not assigned and people found out what a wonderful man he was because when young sons and young husbands were away, he could help women that were left alone and ah this became very very important for his role in the neighborhood as a caring, loving person. My Mother was rather in a quiet, reserved woman and her whole life was her family and her home and she had it beautiful and that’s what women cared about and they found out that she was just like they were. She did all the things—she baked cookies and she got her daughter ready for Girl Scouts and she sang on the church choir and she went to the ah church association that women went to—the Altar Guild—and ah she my mother always was an employed woman as a team with my father—just so special and so and people had to learn to understand and love people being Black and they had not understood yet—maybe it was their fault.

Dan: Umum—have you found things changed now?

Barbara: You know, it is rather insidious the way there is still a great deal of misunderstanding for people and people are sort of scrambling for their own rights and not really understanding that you can't have human rights for yourself if you can't have human rights for everybody. I want to talk about having my ah children come to the Public School system of the City of Binghamton. I consider that they got an excellent education because they were both equipped and prepared to go on to the University. Ah my daughters ah both became ah part of the band at North High and Eileen was a Standard Bearer for the banner that said North High Standard Bearer and my daughter Valerie played in the band and came home one day—“I'm not going to do that anymore, I'm going to do that anymore, I’m going to carry the American flag, I'm 5’9”, I’M the tallest girl”—and that gave us great pleasure to see young Black American women walking in front of the band. That only began with the generation that was represented by my daughter. You heard me talking about Mr. Scanks—his daughter Constance really opened that up at North High for young Black women to be a part of that and then ah other young women that came by ah—Kennedy family had a wonderful young daughter that was in that and Mrs. McGill had a young daughter Carmine and these young women—generation with my daughter, just broke that down that at North High. At Central, it was a little different ah Allan Cave was our President or Principal at McArthur School—his sister June was one of the first gym Black women to be ever selected to be Queen of all the students like at the Senior High level ah and that’s a breakthrough. Now sororities, good or bad—young people have them - I don't recommend them because it excludes people but you know young people make that decision and my daughter Eileen pledged for a sorority and didn’t make it and that rather broke her heart because the sorority hadn't taken young Black women in but then they came along with Valerie and Valerie became Miss New York State Teenager and every sorority wanted Valerie. So what she did, she said, “I will pledge if you pledge my sister,” and then that broke that down and then all sororities started pledging and all fraternities started pledging. That passed with children in that generation which was about the year ah let’s see our children should have been pledged in sororities ah—late ’60s and ah it’s hard to understand why young people and older people can't relate—can’t really understand what our goals are which is to be human beings, seek jobs, live a fair honest life of quality, but there is ah some insidious, insidious discrimination in this community that can 't be controlled by Law. Give you an example—my husband going to work at IBM. Now here's a man who's been in the Army 5 years and he's been away at college and he's home with one baby and he wants to start his life again—he is ah 28 years old—not a boy. In the first year he worked at International Business Machines, other than his manager and setup man, men did not say, "Good morning," or ask about the ball scores or, “how is your wife and the baby?” Now that is pretty tough for a man to go do any assignment because you’re awake there more than you are at anyplace else and the way we face this as a team because Neil’s goal at IBM was a cross to bear. Everybody wishes to be liked but his was to do a good job, receive and advance in promotion to provide for his wife and child and that took some doing because Neil, probably if he went now with the opportunities that are at the International Business Machines and their fair employment practice, he would be a manager. He was born too soon for that but it afforded a good living, and later on they began to find out what a magnificent man Cornelius Oldwine was—how well he did his job and how he was always prompt and quiet and prepared and frank—willing to help another man—a caring person and now it’s really different.

Dan: Is he still working there?

Barbara: Yes—he hasn't retired yet. We started to work very early ah and ah Neil’s 58 but he feels that he will continue to work perhaps until he is 60 or 62 and he, God has been good to us—we are in fine health and he is at the lab in IBM and he loves his job. Similar to my job—now I have been with Social Services ah see if I went in ’46 and this is '78, I have to have 32 years.

Dan: 32 years.

Barbara: And you know with the Government, after 55 years of age, you can retire but I love my job.

Dan : And how old are you Barbara?

Barbara: 55.

Dan: 55.

Barbara: And I feel well respected. Mr. SanFillipo is our current Commissioner, Mr. Dimitri was our immediate past Commissioner and I feel very well respected by the people that I work for and people who work with me and that’s and that’s a privilege.

Dan: What’s your, what’s your title with the Social Sec—Social—

Barbara: Social Services Department—I'm a Supervisor.

Dan: Supervisor.

Barbara: But in Medicaid only.

Dan: Just for Medicaid?

Barbara: Only.

Dan: That’s right, I see.

Barbara: Big assignment—right?

Dan: Sorry—you’re working.

Barbara: Yes.

Dan: Ah, now when you first went to work there 32 years ago ah how did the ah—Do you know how Social Services began and how it has changed up to the present date, for instance what services were available?

Barbara: Well in 1932, under Mr. Robinson as the Commissioner, as I said, Mr. Lounsberry our Mayor, we had all categories which is known as Old Age, Aid to the Blind, Aid to the Disabled and Aid to Dependent Children and of course now you know man—a great deal of that has been transferred and is now in the Social Security system and of course the City of Binghamton was by itself at that time—the Town of Union was alone and Broome County was alone and we had three distinct offices—three distinct commissioners all serving the areas of the County as they did divide employees and then under the direction of Mr. ah Libous, our Mayor, and Mr. Crawford, it was found more at interest of the taxpayers and the serving of the County that we should merge and come under one head and that has been for approximately the past 6 years was one Commissioner and I think they are doing that a lot in Government now, trying to get one head so’s you don’t have it divided because it’s much more economical.

Dan: So in other words the funding is under the Broome County.

Barbara: It’s now called the Department—the Broome County Department of Social Services rather prior to that it was City of Binghamton, Town of Union and a small section—it was just the town was under Broome County.

Dan: Now are you under Federal Regulations?

Barbara: Oh yes ah Medicaid is a Federally sponsored program and ah we are reimbursed ah 80% and then 20% from the County and State and some titles are 60-40, 40 you know 60-40 which amounts 20 County 20 State. You know that, you're probably working for the Action for Older Persons—you know there’s quite a bit in the ah funding.

Dan: Now have you noticed any change in the attitudes of recipients in the benefits?

Barbara: Well I seldom see the applicant now because what has happened is I have been promoted and I'm in administration so I work, I work more with the Social workers than the Examiners but ah the right to receive Public assistance ah the mind of some people is changing all that and I think that came about from the 1937 Social Security Act and the Social Security has moved forward and we've gotten SSI and the people have been included but interesting though ah people still wish to have their right to maintain their own lives and the integrity of being an American citizen or citizen of the United States first—you can decide for yourself and I think respect is still commanded and I wish we were doing more for the older people ah there just doesn't seem to be time and that’s why at Social Services we're so grateful for organizations as Action for Older People and Services for the Aging because we may have the fund but sometimes we don’t have enough people to give the services.

Dan: I see ah now could you—I don' t know whether this is outside of your realm or not but do you know how the relocation of the people of Susquehanna Street was accomplished due to Urban Renewal?

Barbara: Disaster—absolute disaster.

Dan: Absolute disaster—in what respect?

Barbara: In the fact that they didn't care about people and l they made promises, promises, promises which you know have never been kept.

Dan: Well where have they gone?

Barbara: Well fortunately some families were able to buy small modest homes but the promise that they were going to rebuild that area which held many people has never materialized, you know, Woodburn Court, what is it going to have? A few houses now for Senior Citizens and they're not going to take that.

Dan: Going to have a big parking lot.

Barbara: Well I guess they need that. I feel—

Dan: —someplace to put the snow.

Barbara: I just feel that that’s devastating and urban renewal has done that throughout this country to minority persons and poor people and I they have warehoused them and ah we haven't been responsive as citizens to people who—the house might not have met the standards for somebody who was doing urban planning but it had roots and growth and love and care and the curtains may have needed to have been mended but it was starched. It was beautiful and you could sit around and have your coffee or your tea or your cakes and where we sat people—I think we are moving over to the mausoleums—don't start me on that—I feel terrible about it.

Dan: OK, I won't pursue that any further ah now I think you will agree with me Barbara, that ah we're living in a promiscuous society today with ah young couples living together without regard for marriage.

Barbara: Well I think that’s the at—you know my feelings are.

Dam: No.

Barbara: I—“promiscuous” is your adjective.

Dan: Right.

Barbara: Not one I would use because that says that I'm placing a value judgment on someone else’s decision.

Dan: Umum.

Barbara: And one of the things that has been a tenet in my life—that I may have a standard set for Barbara Oldwine and I may wish to keep that high—then it becomes a standard that Cornelius and I set together—a family standard and I wish to transfer that and the beauty of that in the growth of my Church and the love of my community to my daughters but I have never felt that I could place a value judgment on someone else's decision so I, I totally using that adjective.

Dan: You don't like that.

Barbara: No I can't use—well it's all right for you, I, I would defend with my life your right to use it.

Dan: Uh huh—well the only, the only reason I asked is that in such an arrangement of two people living together and one—say the girl becomes pregnant and the boy figures that “I've had enough,” and he moves out—has this had a bearing on the welfare rolls?

Barbara: I think a lot of people want to think that but I don’t think that’s ah been ah documented and we just want to look at that like that and are not really willing to look at why we have increased the people that have support and assistance in our society and the reason we have increased is that we are in such a high society of technology that people would, could come to America and not speak English but could become a farmer or do the hardest labor on the railroad or become construction people and not need all this refinement—they could go ahead and build from the bootstrap. All that has disappeared and it’s I think it’s the technology of this country that it constantly, you goad the simple jobs that people could get that didn’t have a lot of training and this is why we are in a great bit of difficulty of people not being able to find work and the other thing I think that I’m not sure that people still care about people, that we are really serving, want to help. We're a society that’s always proved ourselves, that always have to have someone as an underdog on the bottom—stepping on them. We proved that when we went to Vietnam, we proved that when we had the Civil War, so I really don’t want to talk about a person's decision to share their life with another person and create a life, which is an act of God, and then decide that they can’t face that responsibility means that the welfare rolls have increased, because I don't know that, because there are women who have been left alone where this decision has been made, have gone on and done great things and provided for that young life that they created and that they decided to keep. So we don't have the statistics.

Dan: You don't have the statistics?

Barbara: No and we mustn't draw that out as that’s the reason. I feel the welfare rolls have increased because technology of this country has moved simple jobs out of the contact for people, you know we are not educating people to get the technological jobs—there are more people than there are jobs.

Dan: Umum.

Barbara: And every time you, say, put it on a printout—use it on a computer, maybe you eliminate an individual who maybe could have done a simple job.

Dan: Umum.

Barbara: And we're starting to warehouse people and that’s very frightening and I don't think we should base it on what the moral decision is. The fact that as human beings, we can't cast the first stone against someone else's decisions because if we had done that ah God would never have been close to Mary Magdalene.

Dan: Umum.

Barbara: And He loved this woman and reminded us, be without sin ourselves before we cast the first stone. But when He went to the well for the water, the woman said to Him, “Why do you ask me to fill the pitcher to serve you?” because she was different in Gentile and Jew and He didn't care. He was going to drink from the pitcher that would be sweet because it had been blessed out.

Dan: Umum—now what clubs have you belonged to Barbara?

Barbara: OK—I feel very privileged to say that I am a Life Member of American Association of University Women and I have served as a Secretary for that organization and then I'm proud to say I’m a member of Semper Fidelis, which was founded by Mrs. Beccye Fawcett—this is part of the National Negro Conference of Women who are original founders with Mary McCloud McLew—a beautiful woman who established Bethune-Cookman College on nothing—what an inspiration—and then ah I'm a member and ah immediate Past President of Broome County Urban League Guild, a member of the Monday Afternoon Club—that was an exciting thing. The Monday Afternoon Club was 100 years old. These beautiful women decided that all women should have a right to belong to that organization and ah you know at Monday Club, you have to be sponsored by a woman and then two women cosponsored you and Mrs. Fawcett and I were both selected and I have loved my association with these women—there is so much beauty there and of course you know our home has been listed as ah one of the outstanding architectural homes in this country—in the State—it was owned by Mr. Phelps first and there is a lot of loving, caring there for women and we do a lot of great things there.

Dan: It was owned by Mr. Phelps?

Barbara: Yes.

Dan: Is it the banker?

Barbara: I'm not quite sure.

Dan: E.Z. Phelps?

Barbara: I think so—that’s in the history, all right and then ah lets see.

Dan: You belong to—do you still belong to Episcopal—

Barbara: Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church—oh I was baptized there and now it’s really wonderful. Neil and I were married there. Our daughter Valerie was married there and we baptized her first baby there.

Dan: Yeah—how many children do you have?

Barbara: I have just Eileen, my oldest daughter, who is associated with the ah State Department in Washington as a Foreign Service officer.

Dan: Wonderful.

Barbara: Really exciting job and of course we have our daughter Valerie Oldwine Barnes who is married to John C. Barnes with their little daughter Amera and of course you know the new baby is coming any day.

Dan: Yes (laughter).

Barbara: We were rather delayed with this and John and Valerie are both associated with IBM as her father is.

Dan: Well that’s fine.

Barbara: I must tell you about Valerie—she’s 29 and she’s a manager of Finance in the Lab and I’ll tell you a little about the girls’ education, if I may.

Dan: Surely.

Barbara: Eileen went to Fisk University.

Dan: Your Alma Mater.

Barbara: My Alma Mater so that’s always very important for Mother and then she went on to go to the University of Michigan to do her Masters in Public Health Administration. Valerie chose to go to Howard University, then she went on to do her Masters at the Wharton School of Finance at University of Pennsylvania. I’d like to point out here that my daughter selected the predominantly Black University for the undergraduate program. Having been raised in Binghamton, they had not had a great deal of opportunity to associate with the peer group because our population here you know is very small—approximately now about 3000, which is a small number in the total community and both girls needed that kind of identity and we feel very fortunate that they were able to obtain that in ’59 then when they were ready to go further into their development professionally. They then sought the University that would offer the ah choice Degree for which they settled and ah we're really excited when we say Valerie finished Wharton because it is—she was one of the first 10 Black women to receive her India World honor.

Dan: I see—OK she went on for further studies at Wharton.

Barbara: Yes the MBA Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania and it has been a great deal to her career and ah it’s interesting to know all industry is accepting women and men and giving them promotions based on ability and that’s what this is all about.

Dan: So ah in Beccye Fawcett’s mind, anyone who has the education and the opportunity, can go out and get a job—no matter what the color of his skin is today—right?

Barbara: Well I guess there you know—nothing can be overall and a lot of young Black people will feel that they may get in the door and that’s a very important step, getting in the door. Now we have to worry about where they're going once they're in the door—are they going to move up? We have to acknowledge that in bib business and in finance, we don't have too many Bank Presidents yet who are Black and we don't have too many high level managers ah who are Black and this is still the goal that young Black people are trying for—ah Patricia Harris, who is in the Cabinet with ah Mr. ah Carter—she’s an exception. Vernon Jordan directs the Urban League—outstanding man now—I can’t think of the young woman that was just appointed as the Executive Director for National Planned Parenthood—but she's 34, she’s from Dayton, Ohio and she’s going to earn $7,000 a year. She was a nurse first and then got her M.Ph in Ohio. Now our young Black people are having to really strive to get promotions and move into the top level of management. We’re faced with the Backey case for admission to the ah medical schools, which is being heard by the Supreme Court, because if they're talking about reverse discrimination, Civil Rights have to look at that. I believe in preparing but they're, they're still a fuzzy area. Ah I'm not satisfied that it’s a—besides it not all to a degree for anybody anymore—one is this technology that is requiring more and more training. Why don’t, why don’t white or black interests think of the number of teachers that are just not admitted to the school districts because we don’t have the money—we're cutting down, we're consolidating Junior children.

Dan: We have declining enrollment at the moment.

Barbara: Right.

Dan: Right—well Barbara, is there anything else that you would like to add?

Barbara: Well I would like to stress that I ah feel that education and preparedness should play a great part in the lives of people but there has to be a certain amount of human understanding and we have to transcend that and have people recognize people for the working people and it’s going to be very difficult in this society for what I call the dominant part of the society which is the white American male to understand that perhaps he is going to be threatened by the Black American and by women. He has always been the Chairman of the Board—that he is going to have to move over to make room.

Dan: So you're an advocacy of women’s rights.

Barbara: Oh definitely.

Dan: OK, I’m not going to dispute that either. (laughter).

Barbara: Thank you Dan—well what do you think?

Dan: Fine—do you want me to turn it off and I’ll turn—play it back for you?

Barbara: Oh to hear a little bit of it, I don't need to hear it all.


Dan: Can you tell me any special honors you have received as a citizen of the community, Barbara?

Barbara: Well I think the most beautiful honor I have received was at the time of the Bicentennial and I was selected by the commission to be Woman of the Year for the City of Binghamton and that meant a great deal to me because it was based on my contribution to the community as a loving, caring person and I think it was afforded to me because of my work with ah the United Way—I've been on the Board of Directors there and ah I've been on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood and at the present time, I'm a national Board member for the YWCA of America—have 91 women on that governing Board and reach that plateau because the women of your own community nominate you for the work you have done and my work with the “Y” here. I was the President of the Board of Directors so none of these things would have been possible for me if the people of the community hadn’t respected me and knew that we cared about each other.

Dan: Thank you Barbara.

Barbara: OK.

Date of Interview



O'Neil, Dan


Oldwine, Barbara


37:47 Minutes ; 15:05 Minutes

Date of Digitization



Broome County Oral History Project

Subject LCSH

Urban League; Planned Parenthood; Oldwine, Barbara -- Interviews; Broome County (N.Y.) -- History; Binghamton (N.Y.); Fisk University; African Americans -- New York (State) -- Binghamton -- Interviews; Social workers -- Interviews; Race discrimination; American Association of University Women; Young Women's Christian Association

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The Broome County Oral History Project was conceived and administered by the Senior Services Unit of the Office for the Aging. Funding for this project was provided by the Broome County Office of Employment and Training (C.E.T.A.), with additional funding from the Senior Service Unit of the National Council on Aging and Broome… More

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“Interview with Barbara Oldwine,” Digital Collections, accessed April 25, 2024,