Country Women Cope with Hard Times: A Collection of Oral Histories

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"It was hard times," French Carpenter Clark recalls, a sentiment unanimously echoed by the sixteen other women who talk about their lives in Country Women Cope with Hard Times. Born between 1890 and 1940 in eastern Tennessee and western South Carolina, these women grew up on farms, in labor camps, and in remote towns during an era when the region's agricultural system changed dramatically. As daughters and wives they milked cows, raised livestock, planted and harvested crops, worked in textile mills, sold butter and eggs, preserved food, made
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Country Women Cope with Hard Times: A Collection of Oral Histories

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Overview

"It was hard times," French Carpenter Clark recalls, a sentiment unanimously echoed by the sixteen other women who talk about their lives in Country Women Cope with Hard Times. Born between 1890 and 1940 in eastern Tennessee and western South Carolina, these women grew up on farms, in labor camps, and in remote towns during an era when the region's agricultural system changed dramatically. As daughters and wives they milked cows, raised livestock, planted and harvested crops, worked in textile mills, sold butter and eggs, preserved food, made cloth, sewed clothes, and practiced remarkable resourcefulness. The recollections of these women paint a vivid picture of rural life in the first half of the twentieth century for a class of women underrepresented in the historical canon. Their life stories reveal the effects of the industrialization of the South and the growth of a national economy.

Unlike their wealthy counterparts, women whose days were filled with an endless round of physical labor rarely enjoyed the leisure or the education to create written stories of their lives. Through her edited interviews with these women, Melissa Walker provides firsthand descriptions of the influence of modernization on ordinary people struggling through the agricultural depression of the 1920s and 1930s and its aftermath. Their oral histories make plain the challenges such women faced and the self-sacrificing ways they found to confront hardship. The women describe not only mothers and grandmothers whose subsistence strategies stagger twenty-first-century readers but also children who longed for greater educational opportunities and labored diligently for the survival of their families. While the women detail the difficulties of their existence -- the drought years, early freezes, low crop prices, and tenant farming -- they also recall the good times and the neighborly assistance of well-developed mutual aid networks, of which women were the primary participants.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570035241
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Series: Women's Diaries and Letters of the South
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Series Editor's Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Farm Women and Their Stories
1 Elizabeth Fox McMahan 1
2 Hettie Lawson 25
3 Wilma Cope Williamson 28
4 LaVerne Farmer 47
5 French Carpenter Clark 57
6 Korola Neville Lee 63
7 Mary Evelyn Russell Lane 80
8 Peggy Delozier Jones 93
9 Ethel Davis 103
10 Mabel Love 107
11 Kate Simmons 110
12 Evelyn Petree-Lewellyn 115
13 Martha Alice West 132
14 Ruth Hatchette McBrayer 135
15 Mary Webb Quinn 149
16 Dorothy Skinner and Virginia Skinner Harris 160
17 Afterword: Reflections on Interpreting Oral History 189
Suggestions for Further Reading 205
Index 207
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