Oral History with Jo Ann Underwood, November 4, 2014 (Ms2015-007)


Oral History with Jo Ann Underwood, November 4, 2014 (Ms2015-007)


Jo Ann (Murphy) Underwood pioneered tolerance of sexual minorities on the Virginia Tech campus. She and her family came to Blacksburg in the mid-1970s. She worked as a registered nurse at Virginia Tech’s Student Health Services and was appointed the university’s first health educator in January 1979. A strong advocate for women’s issues, safe sex, birth control, and tolerance of sexual minorities, she started the peer education program at Virginia Tech in the mid-1980s. Her columns in the Collegiate Times helped educate students about various health issues. She served as an advisor to the gay students’ group, Lambda Horizon. At one time she was known as the “Condom Queen of Virginia Tech” because of her diligence in working to prevent sexually transmitted disease. In June 2014, she was named Ally of the Year at the sixth annual Lavender Ceremony for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender graduates and their allies. After the ceremony, it was announced that the award would henceforth be called the Underwood Ally of the Year Award.

The interview explores Jo Ann Underwood’s work as health educator at Virginia Tech and her involvement with the gay students’ group, Lambda Horizon. Underwood’s family background and her husband Richard’s civil rights work in the Together magazine are also discussed.




Bibliographic Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Virginia Tech LGBTQ Oral History Collection, Ms2015-007, Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.


Damon Kinmond


Jo Ann Underwood


Jo Ann Underwood’s residence in Blacksburg, VA




“Oral History with Jo Ann Underwood, November 4, 2014 (Ms2015-007),” VT Special Collections and University Archives Online, accessed June 10, 2023, http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/Ms2015-007/Ms2015-007_VTLGBTQ_UnderwoodJoAnn.