On April 3, 2013, Tracy Huling conducted an oral history interview with Alice Green at her office in Albany, New York. Alice worked at the New York State Training School for Girls in the late 1960’s as a counselor while she was getting her Master’s Degree in Social Work. She was in her early 20’s.
Below you can listen to a short audio segment from this interview in which Alice talks about her experiences at the Hudson Training School. In the interview, Alice offers her description of the surrogate family structure the girls had built. Known historically as “The Racket,” this phenomenon was the subject of much curiosity, controversy, and research over the years of the Hudson Training School’s existence.
About Dr. Alice P. Green
Alice Green was raised in Witherbee, NY, a small community in New York’s rural North Country region that had very few people of color. Her father first came to the northern part of the United States from the South in the 1920's, during the Great Migration. Immigration from other countries into the United States had decreased after WWI and African-Americans from the southern states were being recruited to work in the iron mines in Lyon, NY, near the Canadian border.
During the Depression, Alice’s father returned to the South, met his wife, Alice’s mother, and started a family. He worked in the cotton industry and became unhappy with the treatment he received from whites, eventually moving back to the North with his family in the 1950’s. They settled in Witherbee near Port Henry on Lake Champlain where there were some other black people living and working in the mines. Following a mining accident, Alice’s father lost the use of both of his legs. He was relegated to menial jobs after that, making life difficult for Alice and her family, who already felt like outsiders.
A very good student, Alice graduated at the top of her high school class in Witherbee and attended college in Albany, NY where she was excited to encounter lots of other African-Americans. There she began a long period of study for three master's degrees and a Ph.D. in criminal justice, working with poor people in the Albany community who were involved in the criminal justice system.
Now known as Dr. Alice P. Green, she directs the Center for Law and Justice, an organization in Albany, NY that she founded in 1985. The Center is a non-profit community organization that monitors criminal justice activities, provides legal assistance and criminal justice advocacy, organizes efforts to change social policy, and empowers poor people and people of color.
More information on Alice’s work and life has been collected and preserved in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University of Albany, State University of New York.
For more information on “The Racket” at the NYS Training School For Girls, see:
For more information on surrogate family networks in institutions for women and girls, see: