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Digging through the Tapes: Exploring the Behind the Veil Collection Pt. 2

Post contributed by Mattison Bond, Project Research and Outreach Associate, Jon Hope Franklin Research Center 

Highlighting Oral Histories by State Part 2

We at the John Hope Franklin Research Center are back with another blog post to highlight some of the unique oral histories that can be found in the Behind the Veil Digital Collection. Last week’s post featured interviews from folks from Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida. This week, we take a deeper look into the collection by focusing on the interesting items that can be found from Georgia, Illinois, and Kentucky.

You can view Part 1 of this series here: Digging through the Tapes: Exploring the Behind the Veil Collection – The Devil’s Tale (

Enjoy exploring!!


While searching through the collection using the Georgia location filter, you will find two women that share similar names but different lives, Carolyn Johnson King and Carol Johnson King.

Carolyn King, born in 1948 on what was once a plantation. The Keaton Quarter was owned by a white doctor, had a white overseer, and held multiple black families that worked on the land. Her oral history starts with detailing life in rural Georgia and the relationship that she had with the other families:

Part 1, 13:05 “It was great. Everybody just was quiet and people got together and went to church and we had to go to Sunday school every Sunday… Most people were kin, we were all kin people, one thing. We were all related. All family people, we really were. Like if someone would have a baby, like if my mother had a baby, a lady in another household would come and cook for us and wash for us maybe one or two weeks until my mother able to get up and go and do what she could do, until she got better…If anybody got sick, people would just go to that house and just really take over until that family got better…Everybody, just one happy family. We didn’t have much, but we had a whole lot of love, that was one thing.”

Interestingly she also goes into details about her time as a minster, detailing some of the visions that she experienced in her life time.

Part 3, 1:58 “If I sit down, this angel would sit down. If I get up, it would get up. It followed me around the house for a couple of months… I would see blood. The walls would be covered in blood…And I know some of this that I seen was the devil. The devil was showing some of these things, I know that now.”

About a month before, Sally Graham, who also interviewed Carolyn King, had a conversation with Carol Johnson King. Carol was an educator and the first director of a federally funded Head Start program within the southeastern part of the country. Her oral history details her time as not only an educator and director, but also being apart of the Dougherty County School Board, an activist, community organizer and the wife of famous civil rights lawyer C.B. King.

Along with her story, Carol’s oral history is unique because it has 34 related items that contain the photos of the autograph books of her in-laws Margaret (Maggie) Slater and Clennon King when they attended the Tuskegee Institute. Carolyn recalls that “Daddy King” drove horse and buggy for Booker T. Washington and that George Washington Carver wrote a note in “Mama King’s” graduation book.

Photo image of an autograph book owned by Carolyn King from 1916
Carol King slides: Clennon King’s autograph book – note from T.V. Gaunt, 1916 April 17
Photo image of a page of an autograph book from 1912 owned by Maggie Slater
Carol King slides: Maggie Slater’s autograph book – note from C. Valentine, 1912 April 20

It is important to note that both interviews are titled “Carol King”. By paying attention to the “Item Info” found below the interview transcript you can distinguish between the interviews, paying attention to the description info and the occupation. Or you can use these links to find them here!

Carolyn John King’s Interview: Carolyn King interview recording, 1994 July 03 / Behind the Veil / Duke Digital Repository

Carol Johnson King’s Interview: Carol King interview recording, 1994 June 18 / Behind the Veil / Duke Digital Repository


There are only three oral histories found under the Illinois location filter. All three interviews were recorded in Chicago, Illinois and each interviewee was born in Arkansas. Today we focus on the life of Christine Trailor , one of the seventeen beauticians that can be found in the whole collection.

Christine Trailor was born January 5, 1928, in Crittenden County, Arkansas. Within the interview, she shares her experience learning how to do her own hair and how she came to be a beautician.

“I learned by doing—Well, I always have had to do my own since I was six years old, so I used to have a lot of hair, so sometime a girl would stop on the way to school, and help me do my hair. It was real thick and long. And then I started, when I came here, I guess it was a, well, passing time, and I just started doing hair. Actually, I didn’t play basketball because—I liked playing basketball, but every time I would start to play, it was a girl that didn’t like me. She would come and just ring the ball out of my hand, and that just turned me off. And I started going to the hut, I guess was a way of passing the time, keep from being bored. So that’s when I started doing hair.”

She migrated to Chicago, IL in 1951 after finishing college at Arkansas AM&N. Once there she worked at two tailoring shops, pursuing a career in cosmetology after. Two years later she opened her own shop. At the time of the interview, she was operating her second shop for 22 years.

Within her oral history, researchers can learn not only her experience of being a beautician but also her experience migrating northward to Chicago.

You can listen to the Christine Trailor’s oral history here: Christine Trailor interview recording, 1995 July 15 / Behind the Veil / Duke Digital Repository


By clicking on the Kentucky location filter, you will find the only five oral histories of “coal miners” within the collection.  From those five, you can learn more about James “Jim” “Red” Eaves, the only federal mine inspector in the collection. Within his oral history, listeners can learn about the family of Eaves, back to his grandmother,

Part 1, 10:43 “And she was an old woman then because she had a Barker stick about four foot long, I guess, where she’d walk with. And she would follow you upside the head with that stick. I had a little old wheel I rolled around the house. She was sitting out in the yard, had a pipe in her mouth, smoking. She told me, said, “Boy, you get on out there if you want to roll that wheel. Don’t roll that around here near me.” I got out there. A few minutes later, I got back close to her. Next thing I know, that stick went upside in my head. The wheel went one way and I went the other. But she didn’t play now. When she told you something, she meant business.”

James Eaves started working in the coal mines around the age of 18. In the later half of his interview, listeners can learn more about his time within the coal mines as one of the few federal mine inspectors that were black. By searching deeper within the collection, you can also view his Foreman of Coal Mines Certificate.

Photo image of a plaque owned by James Eaves acknowledging his status as foreman of coal mining, 1966
Alex Byrd slides: First Class Certificate Foreman of Coal Mining for James Eaves, 1966

Mr. Eaves also makes an appearance in the oral history of Sydney Gilmore, another coal miner.

You can listen to Mr. Eaves oral history here: James Eaves interview recording, 1995 August 04 / Behind the Veil / Duke Digital Repository

You can also listen to him on the Sydney Gilmore, Jr. (primary interviewee) and James Eaves interview recording, 1995 July 26 / Behind the Veil / Duke Digital Repository

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