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Serena Strother Wilson

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Information about Serena Strother Wilson

Profile image of Serena Strother Wilson

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Quilter
Elementary School Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Fruits
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii, Africa
Favorite Quote:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Birthplace

Born:
3/18/1934
Birth Location:
Edgefield, South Carolina

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Quilter
Elementary School Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Fruits
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii, Africa
Favorite Quote:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Birthplace

Born:
3/18/1934
Birth Location:
Edgefield
See how Serena Strother Wilson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

African American griot, master-quilter, educator and entrepreneur Serena Strother Wilson was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, in March 18, 1934. Wilson grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Williamson, West Virginia. Wilson attended West Virginia State College from 1952 to 1955 and earned her B.S. degree in elementary education from Bluefield State College in 1968. She went on to earn her M.A. degree in psychology and guidance in 1973. Wilson taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in Columbus, Ohio, and in Heidelberg and Berlin, Germany. Wilson also tutored special education students in Oklahoma, Virginia, and in Germany. She retired from the Columbus Board of Education as a consultant and teacher supervisor with the Department of Special Education in 2000.

As a child, Wilson learned the basics of quilting, a family specialty. She also learned about the “code” hidden in the patterns of the quilt blocks that had been handed down to five generations of her family from Wilson’s great grandmother, Eliza Farrrow, to her grandmother, Nora Bell McDaniel, to her mother, Mary Eva McDaniel and her aunts Ozella and Katherine, and then to her. She passed the knowledge on to her daughters Teresa Wilson Kemp and Maria Denese Wilson and to her grandchildren. After mastering the art of quilting, she made these works of fiber art available to people in South Carolina, Ohio and communities across the country. Wilson and her daughter, Teresa Kemp, founded and run the McDaniel Secret Quilt Code Museum Exhibit, a program designed to increase public awareness of quilting and its place in African American history. The history of the family’s quilting traditions is the subject of Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, a book by Jacqueline L. Tobin and Dr. Raymond G. Dobard.

Serena Strother Wilson is married to Colonel Howard Wilson, a retired army veteran. The couple resides in Columbus, Ohio.

Serena Strother Wilson passed away on February 9, 2012.

See how Serena Strother Wilson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Serena Wilson interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Serena Wilson shows a Nigerian sankofa bird carving and explains its meaning
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Serena Wilson's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Serena Wilson describes her mother's background and ancestors
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Serena Wilson describes her father, a white man who married across the color line and supported black rights
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Serena Wilson discusses Reconstruction in Edgefield County, South Carolina and her interracial ancestry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Serena Wilson talks about her father's lessons and the importance of children having pride
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Serena Wilson discusses Strom Thurmond's interracial relationship
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Serena Wilson shares memories of childhood in a biracial family in Edgefield, South Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Serena Williams recalls her maternal grandparents and farm life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Serena Wilson remembers her grandmother's quilts and superstitions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Serena Wilson discusses her siblings and cousins
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Serena Wilson recalls helping her grandmother with textile crafts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Serena Wilson describes her childhood environs, South Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Serena Wilson recalls her family's quilting and other customs
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Serena Wilson gives an overview of her school life
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Serena Wilson talks about her children and their families
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Serena Wilson discusses gender roles throughout her family's history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Serena Wilson recalls trying to avoid taking French in high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Serena Wilson recalls her courtship and marriage at West Virginia State
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Serena Wilson remembers visiting family who moved to Ohio for work
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Serena Wilson recalls moving to Columbus when her husband went to Vietnam
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Serena Wilson details her first teaching work in Columbus, Ohio, 1968
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Serena Wilson recalls trips to Paris while her husband was stationed in Germany
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Serena Wilson describes her renewed interest in quilting
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Serena Wilson discusses her quilt shops and making quilts for family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Serena Wilson recalls her family's superstitions and psychic powers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Serena Wilson discusses African symbols in quilt patterns, the "quilt code" and the popularity of black culture
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Serena Wilson shares final reflections
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Serena Wilson considers her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Serena Wilson discusses the recording of African American history