Alberta Hill Henry (1920-2005) was born in Hosston, Louisiana, where her parents worked as sharecroppers. The family moved to Topeka, Kansas in 1923. After graduating from high school in 1939, she and her husband bought a share in a restaurant in Topeka. Following a serious illness in 1948, Henry divorced her husband and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to recover in 1949. She took a job as a housekeeper and met Harold Henry, whom she married in 1950. They adopted two children, Julia and Wendell.
In 1965, she founded the Alberta Henry Education Foundation, which provides college scholarships to underprivileged students. In 1967 she was hired as a teacher's aide at the first Head Start Center in Salt Lake City and eventually became the parent coordinator. She left that job in 1972 to become a minority consultant for the Salt Lake County School District. She retired from that position in 1986. She recieved an honorary doctorate from the University of Utah in 1971, and a B.S. in Elementary Education in 1980 (at the age of 59). Henry was also the President of the Salt Lake City NAACP for twelve years, from 1980 to 1992. She has also been involved in numerous community and government organizations, including the Altrusa Club, Utah Commission on Civil Rights, and the Governor's Black Advisory Council.
Oral Histories featuring Alberta Henry
Interviews with African Americans in Utah, Alberta Henry, Interview 1 - In this interview Henry shares information about her family history in Kansas and Louisiana and memories of her childhood. She discusses the priority her mother placed on education. She talks about being ill as a young adult and issues with getting medical care. She reflects on segregation in Kansas, and issues with inequity and racism in education. She recalls her involvement with social groups and civic organizations. She recalls her interview and taking a job as a housekeeper for a Jewish family shortly after moving to Salt Lake City. Henry also discusses her involvement with the Utah and Idaho Baptist Church Association and her early efforts in organizing scholarships for black college students.
Interviews with African Americans in Utah, Alberta Henry, Interview 2 - In this interview Henry discusses the isolation of being a black person in Salt Lake City in the late 1940s and 1950s, and the social networks she built through her church. She also recalls the events leading up to the founding of the Alberta Henry foundation in the late 1960s. Henry discusses the importance of her faith in the community work that she led. She shares memories of working in a day care, becoming involved with the Head Start program, and working as a consultant for the Salt Lake School District.
Additional archival materials