Skip to Main Content

OH106 Olivia B. Gaines Oral History

Olivia B. Gaines Oral History

Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project - Lifestyles

Series Number: OH106

Interviewee: Gaines, Olivia B.

Interviewer: Marable, Addie

Date interviewed: November 15, 1979

Processed by: Tara Marcum

Date processed: May 24, 2011

Description: 1 sound disc (25 minutes)

Abstract: Olivia Gaines describes her life as an African American woman in Paducah, Kentucky. She discusses her childhood in a very religious household and how her mother was responsible for construction of the first restrooms at Burks' Chapel in Paducah. She describes her neighborhood as a mixture of black and white families and that there were never any racial problems. She mentions the business and civic activities of her brother Manuel Bolen. She describes his involvement with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Joe Hale murder case. She also mentions that her brother and the NAACP. worked on removing segregation signs at local business and public buildings.

Biographical / Historical note: Olivia Gaines was born August 19, 1905 in Paducah, Kentucky. Her father, Lawrence T. Bolen, worked at the railroad shop until he died when she was nine years old. She began working at a young age due to her father's death. She attended Lincoln Elementary School and graduated high school in 1922. She owned a catering business for twenty eight years. Her brother, Manuel, managed an ice cream business. His store was the first and only business in downtown Paducah that was owned by an African American in the 1910s and 1920s. She also states that her brother was the owner of the first taxi business in Paducah, a prominent restaurateur and owned a business that sold mirrors.

General information: No user access to original recordings. Use audio user copies, digital derivatives, transcripts, and/or tape indexes. This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.

Subject Headings / Descriptors:

Gaines, Olivia

Bolen, Manuel

Paducah (Ky.) – History.

Lincoln Elementary School (Paducah, Ky.)

Burks' Chapel (Paducah, Ky.)

African Americans – Kentucky – Paducah.