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William Layton

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Information about William Layton

Profile image of William Layton

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Historian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Favorite Quote:
Later Than You Think.

Birthplace

Born:
7/17/1915
Birth Location:
Hanover, Virginia

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Historian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Favorite Quote:
Later Than You Think.

Birthplace

Born:
7/17/1915
Birth Location:
Hanover
See how William Layton is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Historian, storyteller and retired government executive William Layton was born in Hanover, Virginia, in 1915. The son of a teacher and the superintendent of a reform school for African American boys, he graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Fisk University in Tennessee.

Layton worked as a social worker for Nashville public schools and the Urban League in Columbus, Ohio, and Muskegon, Michigan. In 1959, he joined the staff of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, where he served as director of education. After working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he was hired as the equal employment officer at the Federal Reserve Board, becoming the first African American to serve as a staff officer for the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve. From 1977 to 1988, Layton fulfilled engagements as a consultant and public speaker.

A historian known for enlivening stories of the past with anecdotes and astute connections, Layton has published two books of essays he wrote for a column in the newsletter of his service club, The Clarke County Kiwanian, and other reflections. For more than fifty years, he has been collecting historical documents and memorabilia, mainly related to the Civil War and abolitionist movement. The National Archives duplicated 1,500 items of his renowned collection. A founding member of the board of directors of the Fort Collier Civil War Center, Layton has been credited for saving Fort Collier, an important Civil War battlefield. Layton's grandson, NFL player William Roaf, contributed to the site, which houses a museum named in his grandfather's honor. A friend of Rosa Parks, Layton visited the White House on President Bill Clinton's invitation.

Layton married his wife, Phoebe, in 1940. They had three daughters, the late Serena Layton Davis, who worked in advertising in New Jersey and Michigan; Andrée Layton Roaf, a court of appeals judge in Arkansas; and Mary Layton, a public relations professional who served as assistant U.S. postmaster general in the 1980s.

Layton passed away on September 12, 2007 at the age of 92.

Layton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 26, 2003.

See how William Layton is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Layton's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Layton lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Layton describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Layton describes the history of his father's home town, Millwood, Virginia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Layton describes his father's hometown of Millwood, Virginia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Layton describes his father's educational background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Layton describes how he is related to HistoryMaker George Leighton
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Layton describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Layton describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Layton describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Layton describes how his father was hired at the Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia's Manual Labor School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - William Layton talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - William Layton describes his experiences growing up on the grounds of the Virginia Manual Labor School in Hanover County, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Layton describes how freed slaves operated in society, and an instance where an Alabama man had a white family and a black family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Layton talks about his maternal great-grandfather, Ballard T. Edwards
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Layton talks about Reconstruction-era Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Layton talks about attending Virginia Manual Labor School in Hanover County, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Layton talks about the Pamunkey Native American Tribe
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Layton describes the relationship between Native Americans and African Americans during the 19th century
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Layton talks about his father's leadership of Virginia Manual Labor School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Layton describes his experiences living in Richmond, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Layton describes his childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - William Layton describes how a high school friendship and a college debate competition led to his being followed by the FBI
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - William Layton talks about admiring George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglass as a young man
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - William Layton talks about being set up to have sex with a white Communist organizer as a student at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - William Layton talks about attending Lincoln University, and graduate school at Fisk University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Layton talks about Virginia Manual Labor School in Hanover County, Virginia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Layton describes the sights, smells, and sounds of growing up on the grounds of Virginia Manual Labor School in Hanover County, Virginia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Layton talks about his wife, Phoebe Anderson, her father, and how he "passed"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Layton comments on the act of "passing"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Layton describes transferring from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, to Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Layton talks about hitchhiking on Highway One as a student at Lincoln University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Layton talks about the professors who influenced him at Lincoln University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Layton describes his experiences attending Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Layton describes and recites a poem he wrote during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - William Layton recites a poem he wrote about trees
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - William Layton recites his poem "Young Negro Boy," which was published in Crisis Magazine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - William Layton describes a research study he conducted with Charles S. Johnson and Harry Stack Sullivan during graduate school at Fisk University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - William Layton describes how working as a research assistant gave him credit toward his Master's degree
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Layton describes his experiences working for the Nashville Public School System, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Layton describes his experiences working for the Nashville Public School System, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Layton talks about getting married and having children
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Layton talks about being drafted to serve in the military during World War II
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Layton talks about the significance of the National Youth Administration
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Layton describes conducting a research study in Mississippi with sociologist Charles S. Johnson and psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Layton describes conducting a research study in Mississippi with sociologist Charles S. Johnson and psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Layton talks about interacting with former slaves during his time conducting research studies in the Mississippi Delta
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - William Layton talks about the challenges he faced during his family's move to Columbus, Ohio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - William Layton describes working for the Columbus Urban League
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - William Layton describes being hired to work for the Muskegon Urban League
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - William Layton describes his civic involvement in Muskegon, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - William Layton talks about visiting Europe in 1954
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Layton talks about Michigan and being acquainted with Helen Jackson Clayton, HistoryMaker Roger Wilkins' mother
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Layton describes a discriminatory incident he experienced at The Neil House hotel in Columbus, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Layton describes how he was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Layton describes his experiences working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Layton describes how he enforced contract compliance at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Layton describes how he was hired as an equal employment officer at the Federal Reserve Board
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Layton describes his first two cases at the Federal Reserve Board
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - William Layton talks about his interactions with HistoryMakers William Clay and John Conyers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - William Layton reflects upon the significance of his work from the 1950s to the 1970s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - William Layton describes a case he handled with the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - William Layton talks about past and current executives of the Federal Reserve Board
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - William Layton describes why he retired from the Federal Reserve Board
  • Tape: 5 Story: 13 - William Layton describes his concerns for the African American community in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 14 - William Layton shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Layton reflects upon his accomplishments
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Layton talks about collecting historical documents and memorabilia
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Layton describes where he obtains items for his collection of historical documents and memorabilia
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Layton talks about the Boule
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Layton describes how he became a member of the Boule
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Layton describes why he quit the Alpha Phi Alpha pledge process at Virginia Union University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - William Layton talks about his grandson, football player William Layton "Willie" Roaf
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - William Layton reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - William Layton recites his poem "My Bridge"
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - William Layton recites his poem "God Everywhere"
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - William Layton narrates his photographs