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Laura Danley interview, 2021-11-23

Identifier: rwhc_ohp_2021_004.wav

Content Description

From the Collection:

Oral history interviews recorded by students in the Real World History class at Center for Inspired Teaching.


  • Creation: 2021-11-23


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Mrs. Laura Thera Danley (née Laura Gilley) was born on April 15th, 1934, in Monticello, Florida. As a toddler, Mrs. Danley briefly moved with her parents to New York City. Soon after her parents divorced, and she and her mother (Laura Gilley) moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Mrs. Danley spent many summers of her childhood staying on her grandparents’ (Elizabeth and Isreal Gilley) farm in Monticello. Later, Mrs. Danley would spend more time on the family farm and with her great aunt, a teacher, while her mother, who previously did domestic work for local whites, went to beauty school. Mrs. Danley then moved back to her mother’s home in St. Petersburg for high school. She attended Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, a popular town for white tourists, where she met her future husband, William Terrell Danley, at fifteen years old through the school’s choir. She would go on to attend Florida A and M University, and, upon graduating in May 1955, marry Mr. Danley in August, when she was 21 years old. Immediately after their marriage, Mrs. Danley moved to Washington, D.C., where her husband was attending Howard University. This would be the first time Mrs. Danley would leave her home state of Florida, since her short time in New York as a baby. The couple made their first home on Euclid Street NW in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, just a short walk from Howard’s campus. Soon after, Mrs. Danley would get her first “real” job in the Women’s Bureau of the Federal Department of Labor. She would continue to work at the Women’s Bureau for 35 years, until her retirement. Mr. and Mrs. Danley never went back to Florida permanently, but they visit often. Mrs. Danley has three children, Cassandra, Silvia, and William, and four granddaughters. Today, Mrs. Danley enjoys playing board games and backgammon with her husband, as well as watching documentaries, like those made by Anthony Bourdain. Mrs. Danley is a lover of books, specifically biographies and memoirs about famous and non-famous people, in addition to her frequent study of the Bible.


From the Collection: 27.1 Gigabytes (DIG_0029)

From the Collection: 228 Files (DIG_0029)


In this interview, Mrs. Laura Danley discusses her life and experiences moving from Florida to Washington, D.C. Mrs. Danley begins by discussing her early life in Florida, which she spent moving between St. Petersburg and the town of Monticello. Through this discussion, she talks about her family life, educational experiences, and segregation during her upbringing. She then discusses her move to Washington, D.C., in 1955 and her life and career in the city. She concludes by discussing some of the changes she’s seen in Washington, her identity as a Washingtonian, and by giving some advice to younger generations.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001