Betty Jean Furgerson Interview, 1992

Collection Overview

Title: Betty Jean Furgerson Interview, 1992

Record Series: MsC-44

Record Group:


Creator: Betty Jean Furgerson

Date: 1992

Extent: 1 box (0.209 linear feet)

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

Language: Materials entirely in English.

Information for Users

Accessing the Collection:

No restrictions. Materials are open for research.

Technical Access: Interviews were recorded on audio cassettes which require special playback equipment to access. Transcripts are not available.

Sensitive Materials Statement: Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy or similar laws, and the Iowa Open Records Law (see Iowa Code § 22.7). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Northern Iowa assumes no responsibility.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item] in the Betty Jean Furgurson collection, Manuscript Record Series MsC-44, [folder number], University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

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Historical Note

The following biographical sketch of Betty Jean Furgerson is taken from webpage for the Betty Jean Furgerson papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City. A link to the page may be found here:

Betty Jean (B.J.) Furgerson, teacher, social worker, human rights commission director and university regent, was born on March 10, 1927. She was the second of five children of Lee B. and Lily Furgerson. Her father, Lee Burton Furgerson, practiced medicine in Waterloo for twenty-one years until his death in 1948. He was active in many community groups and was also the president of a savings and loan company at the time of his death. Lily Furgerson taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades in the Waterloo school district from 1952 to 1971, the first African American allowed to teach in that system.

Betty Jean Furgerson graduated from East Waterloo High School in 1945. She began her college life at Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama, in the autumn of 1945. Furgerson transferred first to the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) and then to Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) where, in 1952, she earned her B.A. in secondary education with a concentration in art. Eighteen years later Furgerson entered the University of Kansas School of Social Work and acquired an M.S.W. in 1972.

Growing up, Furgerson developed a great appreciation for jazz. She and her family often traveled to Chicago and other locations to see various jazz bands. They developed lasting friendships with some of the members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The musicians often visited the Furgerson's home when they performed in or near Waterloo and exchanged correspondence with Betty Jean, her mother and her brother Lee while they were on tour.

Betty Jean Furgerson's work experience included several positions that drew on her abilities as an educator, social worker and leader. She first found employment as an instructor of adult crafts and children's art at the Waterloo Recreation Center. For two years she worked as an assistant in the health education department of the Waterloo YWCA before becoming a district advisor to the Conestoga Council of Girl Scouts in Waterloo, Iowa, from 1958 to 1967. She served as the director of Homemaking/Home-Health Aid Project with the Family Service League during the six months of the project's funding in 1967. Furgerson also directed parent education for the Black Hawk County Head Start program, including four and a half months as the acting director of education from 1967 to 1970. Upon returning to Waterloo following her graduate work at the University of Kansas, Furgerson served as the administrative coordinator for the Community Consortium, a group formed to provide support for the Waterloo school system's desegregation plan, for a year. In 1974, she became the director of the Waterloo Human Rights Commission, a position she held for the next eighteen years. As a leader Furgerson has served her local community and state on several boards in various capacities.

Scope and Content

This box contains six cassette tapes of four interviews conducted with Betty Jean Furgerson by Sarah M. Ross from March 24-April 17, 1992. These tapes were donated to Special Collections & University Archives at UNI by Ms. Ross in 1994.



Folders 1-6: Cassette audiotape interviews with Betty Jean Furgerson.

Processing Information

Finding aid added online by Library Associate Dave Hoing, February 2017. Updated October 2017 (dh). Linear feet count updated on August 9, 2017.