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Oral history interview with Alice Allison Dunnigan [electronic resource], 1971.

Creator: Dunnigan, Alice Allison, 1906-1983
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :sound files : digital preservation master, WAV files (96kHz, 24 bit) Transcript: 51 pages
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Alice Allison Dunnigan was born on April 27, 1906 in Russellville, Kentucky. Dunnigan was the first black woman to serve as a White House correspondent and the first black female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries. Before moving to Washington D.C., Dunnigan taught history in Kentucky public schools and supplemented the required texts with her own fact sheets of African American history. These were compiled into a manuscript in 1939, and published in 1982 as The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Tradition. During her time in Washington, Dunnigan covered the presidencies of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1974, she published her autobiography titled A Black Woman’s Experience: From Schoolhouse to White House. Throughout her career, Dunnigan worked for publications such as the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, the Louisville Sender, Service Magazine, as well as the Associated Negro Press (ANP). Dunnigan was the first black member of the Women’s National Press Club. She died on May 6, 1983.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Dunnigan discusses her education, her work as an educator, her move to Washington, D.C., the job discrimination she faced as a black woman, and the barriers she broke. She describes her salary at different organizations, the need in journalism to work for multiple publications to make a livable wage, and how she gained accreditation to the Senate press gallery. Other topics of discussion include: Dunnigan’s work as a sports writer; the 1948 whistle stop train tour for President Truman’s reelection campaign; her opinions on the importance and future of the black press; and work-related trips abroad to Israel, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Canada. Publications discussed in the interview include: Louisville Sender, Service Magazine, Journal and Guide, Chicago Defender, Sepia Magazine, Louisville Defender, Louisville Leader, Afro American, Pittsburgh Courier, and the news service Associated Negro Press.

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