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Title: Oral History Interview with Arthur Raper, January 30, 1974. Interview B-0009-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Raper, Arthur, interviewee
Interview conducted by Hall, Jacquelyn
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 120 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-11-20, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Arthur Raper, January 30, 1974. Interview B-0009-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0009-2)
Author: Jacquelyn Hall
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Arthur Raper, January 30, 1974. Interview B-0009-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0009-2)
Author: Arthur Raper
Description: 117 Mb
Description: 37 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 30, 1974, by Jacquelyn Hall; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series B. Individual Biographies, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Arthur Raper, January 30, 1974.
Interview B-0009-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Raper, Arthur, interviewee


Interview Participants

    ARTHUR RAPER, interviewee
    JACQUELYN HALL, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACQUELYN HALL:
…I am writing a dissertation on that subject for Columbia University and I had the first draft of it completed when I came here in September. My first reader read it and liked it, I revised it according to his criticisms and my second reader has just finished reading it. It has to be finished in just a few weeks and he is not nearly as convinced by it as my first reader. So, that's what I'm…I'm rushing around doing more research and trying to meet his…
The first thing I want to ask you is, how extensive an organization was the ASWPL really? How many members and how active was it? I know generally the numbers that they claim to have, but I am still not sure whether to emphasize that it was pretty much a one woman organization run by Jesse Daniels Ames or to emphasize how many signatures they had and how extensively they really did reach women missionary societies and women all over the South. That's kind of a basic, central judgement that I wish I

Page 2
could come down on.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, O.K. This would be my estimate. There were about a half a dozen women who worked with Mrs. Ames and worked with her very faithfully.
JACQUELYN HALL:
About half a dozen?
ARTHUR RAPER:
About a half a dozen. And then the others were more or less peripheral, they came on call and they did what they were asked to do. They… but then, I think that happens with most organizations.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yeah.
ARTHUR RAPER:
But, there were about a half a dozen. Mrs. Tilly was, I guess, the most outstanding one and I could dredge up all the other names, but I know about a half a dozen that were very active and they were responsive and they were on call and it wasn't a matter of her deciding something and then telling them what she had done. They, it was pretty much a committee process.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Uh-huh. How many people on the average would attend annual meetings?
ARTHUR RAPER:
I couldn't tell you.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You spoke at some of them.
ARTHUR RAPER:
I spoke at… I have records of having spoke to two of them. I have notes on what I said and since I talked with you, I had that sort of in the back of my mind and looking out for it when I was going through some papers the other day. And I know I talked to the group

Page 3
two or three other times in addition to that. But these two times, I have notes on what I said.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I have minutes of one of the minutes that you spoke to. Minutes on your…
ARTHUR RAPER:
Do you remember what I was talking about?
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were talking about, the general subject they were trying to deal with was whether to concentrate on mob violence or to begin trying to talk about legal lynchings and the prosecutions of the courts.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And you gave a really excellent speech about the complexities, I mean about the legal oppression of blacks. But, even though you were working in the CIC offices as research director, you didn't have too much contact with the ongoing activities of the ASWPL. Was it really that autonomous?
ARTHUR RAPER:
It was fairly autonomous. That's the way Alexander worked. He let me do about the way I wanted to do. He didn't have me under his thumb. I hope I did what he wanted me to do, but I did it more or less on my…well, in other words, it's, if some program was started, and he said, "Now, you'll take charge of this." Why, some people don't mean it when they say that, but he did. And Mrs. Ames carried this on…oh, he was in and out from the minutes I'm sure, he was talking now and again. And Mr. Eleazer did too, to a lesser extent. But,

Page 4
it was somewhat more separate than it might have been. For the reason that Mrs. Ames was an excessive feminist and she had a theory that women worked very differently from the way that men work and of course, this will turn most men off. They just say, "Well, if that's your way of doing it, just go on and do it." But, Alexander didn't take that position. I thought maybe she knew what she was talking about in part, well, she thought that the women's missionary work and the women's political work and what not all had to be in a separate compartment. That it was silly for a man to try to do anything about a women's organization.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did she think that women…why did she want women to be…I mean, you could be a feminist and want women to be integrated into male organizations, or you could be a segregationist…
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, she wanted them to be integrated out. She wanted them separate.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was that? Why did she?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I don't know. It was just…some women are that way and some women are not that way. And I usually know when I meet a woman very quickly which way she is going to expect me to go. And I try to accomodate her, if there's any reason why I shouldn't…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, was it partly because that enabled her to exercise leadership. I mean, it gave her a certain, it gave her a constituency

Page 5
and power over her own organization.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yes, yes, that was clearly part of it.
See, she came there, she had been secretary of the Commission in Texas, as you know, of the state committee. And then, she came up there because she had succeeded in a way.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Because she had succeeded?
ARTHUR RAPER:
She had succeeded in Texas and she came over to the central Interracial Commission office. And, well, she in some ways looked upon the Interracial Commission as something she was going to take over sometime.
JACQUELYN HALL:
She wanted to take over the whole thing?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, yes. She had an inclination in that direction. I think that if you'll look around, you'll find that most people around here have a notion that maybe they'll come into the leadership. These things are placed so if that does happen, why they are there when the door is open. Well, she did that and a little beyond that I think. See, when Alexander went to Washington, I think that she had the definite feeling that she should have been put in charge of the Commission. But, she wasn't.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who was really in charge of it while he was gone?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, all of us, and nobody.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But you were more closely in touch with Alexander, weren't you?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I was closer in touch with Alexander than Mrs. Ames was.

Page 6
Partly because of this sort of pushy way that she had in meetings and office work and all that. I was, well, I worked very closely with it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
This will really get into the basic problem that I have…it's this. I think, I have gone through all of her public papers, I've gone through many of her private family papers and journals and interviewed her daughter and friends of hers and I have a pretty good sense, in a way, of what this woman was like, the complex motives that she had. And yet, this is something that my second reader objects to about my dissertation and I don't think that it's altogether justified. I think it's sort of simple-minded. He wants to know, he says that I am ambivalent about her, sometimes I portray her as a…you know, "do you like her or not?" That's a question he asked me. Whereas I don't think that's really, you know, that's not what I'm trying to say in the end. Either "Yes, I admire her, she's a wonderful person," or "Jesse had all these weaknesses and faults,". I think that people are very complicated and yet I agree with him finally that I have not been able to portray her very clearly. What was she like? Can you give me some sort of, you know, specific ideas…
ARTHUR RAPER:
I will say this. That anybody who portrayed her as I knew her, because that's all I can say, as I knew her…would not come out with too attractive a character.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is that right?
ARTHUR RAPER:
That's correct. Now, after I talked with you, no, it wasn't

Page 7
you, after I talked with Miss Thrasher, I got to thinking about this. And when I was writing up these Southern notes which I bored you all to death with, but then, you might find them more interesting than you think. I wrote up about six pages on Mrs. Ames in the framework that Miss Thrasher had raised that you was writing your dissertation on. And, "did I know Jesse Daniel Ames?" So, if you don't mind, I'll just…it may be better the way I wrote it than I state it. But, it was along these lines. That, I thought Mrs. Ames did a marvelous job in organizing the women and she did that and she had them coming there, she had them geared right straight to the point, namely that lynchings do not protect Southern white women. And that was a very significant point and that's the one she drove on and she kept her eyes on the real point. Now, she could do that after we had done this tremendous amount of research at Tuskegee Institute and after we had made these first case studies. She could then, with security, take the position they took. It couldn't have been taken until that time without somebody taking pot-shots at it. Well, as it was, nobody, so far as I know…now, you've been through all the materials…nobody took pot-shots at them that these dear, white women didn't know what they were talking about.
JACQUELYN HALL:
A few, small town papers…but, generally…
ARTHUR RAPER:
O.K., O.K. But, generally, it was accepted. And she could

Page 8
do that because of this very solid, careful research that had been done on this thing. O.K., now, she organized these women. They did come to Atlanta, they were subject to responding to telephone calls. She did have about a half a dozen women who were genuinely committed and available and worked on this thing. Not all of them lived in Atlanta. But, there was a core there. Now, she did that and she did it remarkably well.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was she able to do that so well? Would you say that she was a good administrator, she was a good organizer? The women did like her, I mean, or at least, were very loyal to her and very admiring of her. Why is that?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, she could do it because she took this lead that resulted in the organization of these very strong church women's associations. And particularly the Methodist women's association. The core of it was the Methodist women.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But, if she was so aggressive in meetings and tended to offend people, why didn't she offend the women?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, she was able to do what she wanted. They were doing what they…she was doing what they wanted her to do.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Uh-huh. But her personal style was not…
ARTHUR RAPER:
She sensed this thing and she got in front of it, there was a followship there and she got in front of it. She created it to some extent, but it was already created. It was there in the women's

Page 9
missionary societies, in some of the studies they'd had, some of the speaker's they'd had, some of the goals they had set. And it…
JACQUELYN HALL:
This general analysis and the anti-lynching sentiment had already been developed by the research and by the…
ARTHUR RAPER:
It was being developed, you see. We had already published the initial finidings, "Impeach Judge Lynch" by the way, and there had been quite a few press releases, it had been carried pretty widely on the general situation. And then here was a place now, where the women could do their thing and Mrs. Ames was a "women-do-their-thing" person. And that was the kind of person she was. And she did it marvelously. O.K., now that's number one. Number two: she did the second thing and she did it superbly, so far as I know. And I had a chance to see it fairly close range. And that was in her dealing with Lulu, the daughter. Mrs. Ames told me one morning with tears in her eyes, she said, "Now, I've got to leave this off," or something-else-something-else, "because Lulu needs me." She said, "You know, something happened to me some years ago…" these were not her words, but this was the essence of it… "and it's indelibly in my make-up. Lulu was very, very sick and nearly died and they thought she was going to die one day. Lulu thought maybe she was going to die. And the next morning, when she was past it (whatever it was may have been pneumonia, I don't know what) then Lulu looked at her mother," Mrs.

Page 10
Ames says very searchingly, and says, "Mama, don't you wish I had died last night?" And she says, "No, dear. I'm glad you lived." O.K., now, so far as I know, her attitude towards Lulu and her concern about Lulu and her help with Lulu, was somehow or another geared back to this time when Lulu put her on the mark.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Uh-huh. When did that happen, that incident?
ARTHUR RAPER:
I don't know if it was…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was she talking about something that was way far in the past? When Lulu was a tiny child, or…?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, no, no…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Something that was happening right then?
ARTHUR RAPER:
No, it wasn't then, but it was when Lulu was big enough to talk and big enough to realize that she was a tremendous…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Burden…
ARTHUR RAPER:
…strain and burden to her mother. "Don't you wish I had just died last night?" Well, perhaps Mrs. Ames had wondered or thought that, I don't know what, we all are human. But when add it to the child, confronted her as it were, she literally had to say yes and do yes, because Lulu, she was a smart kid, she would very readily say, "Well Mother, I thought you said you wanted, you were glad I lived." O.K., but she did that insofar as I know, and I know that she did it well, and it wasn't easy. Because she had these committments and these

Page 11
ideas and she wanted to stay in the leadership in this position and she did, but then there was this other thing that she also needed to do and she needed to do it right because her child had asked her, "Don't you wish I had died?"
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, how did that personal burden, strain, affect her work, her public work and her public personality?
ARTHUR RAPER:
May have increased it, may have made it better.
JACQUELYN HALL:
May have made it better?
ARTHUR RAPER:
May have. Because all those women knew that she had Lulu. And in spite of having Lulu, she did this and most of them, I think, would identify with her as having this load, and even then, why, she was doing this, well, "let's cooperate with her, let's help her. If this is the way she wants to do it, why, let's do it that way. Let's don't put any unnecessary strain…" I don't know.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you think she…
ARTHUR RAPER:
I'm just rationalizing, reasoning here, but I don't see why it wouldn't work that way. I think it did work that way.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you think she at all…
ARTHUR RAPER:
As a matter of fact, I think that she exploited it a little bit.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Exploited it a little bit.
ARTHUR RAPER:
I think maybe she did. It certainly would have been in that direction instead of the other direction.

Page 12
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did she talk a lot about it?
ARTHUR RAPER:
No, she didn't talk much about it, but she knew she had told me this story. And she didn't need to talk very much about it. We'd already talked about the basic problem…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right, right.
ARTHUR RAPER:
And she knew that she and Lulu had faced the basic proposition.
So, now, that's number two. Now, number three. Mrs. Ames was, I don't know why, I never called her Jessie, I always called her Mrs. Ames.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did everybody do this?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Oh, I think we did in the office. I think Eleazer did. Eleazer nearly hated her.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh, is that right?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah. He appreciated what she did, every now and then, but it wasn't enough to offset his resentment.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, she was pretty scornful of him, too.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, she was, I know she was. And she may have been scornful of me, but I, frankly, I didn't care. I mean, it didn't occur to me to bother about what she thought about me. I mean, I was interested in what she was doing and when I could help, I would, but none of that was…I wasn't…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did it bother him so much.
ARTHUR RAPER:
I don't know. He was…his own wife was sort of an Ibsen's

Page 13
Doll's House, not quite, she was a very gracious lady and a very competent lady, but she always was the gracious hostess and had everything exactly right. In fact, I met Mrs. Raper in their house.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh, really?
ARTHUR RAPER:
But, he had that attitude towards women. They were to be here and do these nice things and well, it was sort of an…well, I don't need to explain that role, because it is very well observed anywhere where you can walk into a house and in three minutes, you can see whether the wife is doing anything except taking care of him.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you have a different attitude toward women that enabled you to get along with Mrs. Ames?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I think maybe I did. I thought my mother was equal to my father and I thought my sister was equal to me and when we got some children, I thought my daughter was equal to the boys. I mean, I've never had any hang-up on that. It was just there, and that was it. You had to have both of them for the world to go on and that was that. Well, but now, she had the philosophy that they had done this wonderful thing about helping prevent some lynchings, and they did. And they had got these women to stand up on their hind legs and make these statements which you've read and they called them to the public's attention. But she felt that lynching and all matters generally was of concern to the local authorities, to the states, the districts and the counties. It did not go to the national level. It stopped.

Page 14
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was she so obsessed with that…
ARTHUR RAPER:
It stopped with the state level.
So, I had my one very serious situation with her, which I never discussed with her. I never said a word about it. It was when the Federal Anti-Lynch legislation, the Van Nuys Bill, I forget what the number of it was. Walter White wanted me to come to Washington and testify on behalf of it. Did you run into this somewhere?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Uh-huh. I just accidentally came across the hearings themselves and read them. And read your testimony.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, isn't that a hell of a thing there. All the bic-bic-bic bic…the record can't show what actually happened.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why, what was it like?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, the record…As a matter of fact, it's not in the transcript of what happened. Because, it was a tremendously more broken and they actually, whoever wrote it up, tried to make some sentences out of some of those things. They were interrupted over and over and over again. But, that isn't the serious thing. Mr. Connally, when he came in there and looked at me, he thought that he, on that committee, was representing the Southern point of view. And the Southern point of view was that "we didn't want any interferrence with administrative matters in the Southern states." Particularly on race. O.K. Now, this was his assumption and this was his operation.

Page 15
And when he got in there, here was a guy from Atlanta. So, he at once was going to, somehow or another, get it established that I wasn't a bonafide Southerner. I had connections outside, or something. There had to be somehow that you could explain this.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes, you were "under Walter White's influence"?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah, I was "owned" by him, or something else, you know. And by gracious, the further he went, the further he saw that I was just as Southern as he was. And then, when he would just be flouncing around. When you read that again, watch out for this one point, and this one point only, when he begins to ask me specific questions about specific lynchings at specific times and all of those lynchings were after the time when I had quit making case studies of lynchings…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right.
ARTHUR RAPER:
…which Mrs. Ames knew, and she was one of the few people, nobody on that committee knew it. Tom Connally didn't know it. Tom Connally was in touch with Mrs. Ames and Mrs. Ames sent those documents up there to him. "You ask Raper now, when he comes before his committee, you ask him about the lynchings. See, now, he's an expert on lynchings. He's made case studies of a hundred lynchings. O.K., ask him about the one that happened on May 4, 1937 in Danielsville, Georgia", or wherever it was.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Where the local officials had prevented any action?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah, yeah. "Did I know about that?" "No, Mr. Connally, I didn't

Page 16
know about that. Ask me some questions about these hundred that I did investigate from 1930 to 1936. Now, ask me about those, and I can answer you." "No, no. You're an expert on lynching and this is 1940. I want to know what happened about last year." And he pulls out another one and pulls out another one and another.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now, why did she do that?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Because she was so intent on maintaining her point of view. that she would do anything.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did she become…why did her whole justification of her career and her self image become wrapped up in maintaining this one position…
ARTHUR RAPER:
Because that's the area in which she had had status, that was the area in which she was somebody. She was nobody at the federal level. She was somebody when she had to talk to these women in these states and she had to get in touch with them by telephone or get in touch with them by telegram and she could do it. But this other she simply could not weather. In other words, she was big in her area…
JACQUELYN HALL:
She had all kinds of rationalizations.
ARTHUR RAPER:
She was big in her little pond, but she couldn't transcend it. She didn't transcend it. I suppose that between her and Walter White, I don't know, but there certainly wasn't any love between them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right.

Page 17
ARTHUR RAPER:
And Walter wanted me, after she had done this—and it was perfectly clear what she had done—he wanted me to make a statement about it and I said, "No, no, I'm not going to do it." He says, "We can put that old bitch in her place." I said, "No, no, no. We aren't going to do it. I'm not going to have anything to do with that. And don't you do it either. You've asked me to come here and I've come. And we saw what happened and it wasn't what we wanted to happen, but it's what did happen."
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did he use those words?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Oh, something about like that. I mean, it wasn't less than that. Because he was utterly disgusted to see one of what he looked upon as his prize witnesses—because I was from the South and the South was without a voice except for Connally—practically without a voice…in that hearing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
White's career was tied up also in his view of that issue.
ARTHUR RAPER:
White's career was tied up in the federal thing. Hers was tied up in the local thing and when they came together, I thought I saw both situations and was trying to cooperate. I would to continue to put the major emphasis local, but I think also that the other has to be taken into consideration. And I had seen, practically everywhere I had been, people who would have been glad to have been asked questions under protection, who perjured themselves if they didn't answer them correctly, they would have answered them correctly because, "this is my

Page 18
duty." And they would have done it. But there was no framework in which they could do it, because these grand juries called them in there and the judge made all these speeches about what you must do now, and what you must do…you know, "the law and the sacredness of this and that and the other." Now, they all knew that the judge didn't mean that. This was just the ritual that he needed to go through for the record of the court, in case there was any appeals or anything else. He did this, but they knew that he didn't mean for them to indict anybody. So, there we were.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, White did publish that letter that she wrote to Connally. Do you remember that? In 1940, she wrote a letter to Connally congratulating him on the success of the filibuster and having defeated the Anti-Lynching League.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, yes, I know that. But this is right in harmony with what I knew her to be and what I knew she did. And this was in harmony with sending that stuff up there. Matter of fact, I know when the fellow came to the door, I'm not sure who it was, I'm not sure but that it was Governor Rivers that brought those sheets of paper to him…when he switched from this…He was just bouncing around with all sorts of crazy questions, but then all of a sudden, here you were just right square on the track of "now this specific lynching at this specific place and this specific time, how about that Mr. Expert?"
JACQUELYN HALL:
She was criticized so heavily for her stand and at the end of the forties, she had very few supporters.

Page 19
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I know, I know.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But she…Did that not bother her?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, she was determined.
Look at the letter, I haven't seen the letter to Connally, but this is exactly what I would expect. I mean, if there wasn't a letter like that somewhere, I'd be surprised.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right, right.
ARTHUR RAPER:
I'd like to see the one that he wrote back to her and thanked her.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right. I looked, audited his papers in the Library of Congress somewhat, looking for correspondence between the two of them. Specifically around this hearing that you're talking about, you know, to see if there was any exchange between them after he used her information, and couldn't find any.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I don't know, maybe there wasn't any.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Or he may not have kept it.
ARTHUR RAPER:
I've thought about that a great deal. It was impossible for him to have had the details on that, except out of our office.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Sure. Why did you not even say anything to her about that?
ARTHUR RAPER:
I didn't need to. She knew that I knew it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And she felt completely justified?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I don't know whether she did or not. But, I was, about that time, a little after that, busy with Myrdal and with Greene County and I was busy doing what I wanted to do and I thought it was

Page 20
cheap, so it was utterly inexcusable. But she had done it, and she hadn't done me the courtesy of saying "I disagree with you and if I can, I'm going to poke through your testimony." I could wish she had, but she elected never to say a word about it and I never did. Never did say a word about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, let me ask you this, still along the lines of the women's work. It's clear that she and Alexander did not get along from the very beginning. Don't you think that's true?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah, I know that's true.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And I tried to deal with that a little bit, but the problem is that I only have her side of that. All the comments about the relationship are from her. Now, from what I know of her, I can well imagine that Will Alexander had a good side, had his own side to tell, but I don't know what it was.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Will Alexander never talked with me about that, but very little. And the things that he said… [Laughter] …he didn't need to say much. He knew that I knew. One time, he came in and he says…I forget exactly how he said it, but I'll try to say it about how he said it, now. But it's sort of nasty. Well, nasty-nice. You can say whether that's nice. But he said, "How in the heck do you have a discussion with a woman when she comes into your office and pushes her breasts up so forth and you're standing there talking with her, why she's making herself into a female something or other." He said, "How in the world

Page 21
do you carry on a serious conference in this kind of situation?" Well, I mean, he sort of had her in a…well, in other words, she couldn't do anything, he thought.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did she flaunt her femininity, her sexuality? At the same time that she tried to…
ARTHUR RAPER:
Not very much. This was just what he said to me one time after she had been in there and…
JACQUELYN HALL:
But did that ring a bell with you, did you know what he was talking about, a certain way that she…
ARTHUR RAPER:
Oh yeah, I knew what he was talking about.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But what I'm trying to get, was it something about the way she acted, or might you have said that about any woman?
ARTHUR RAPER:
No, no, no, no. He wouldn't. He had very great deference and respect for Mrs. Tilly and a lot of women. No, no, he wasn't anti, he wasn't anti-woman.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, how did she act? That would lead somebody to describe her like that.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I don't know anymore than I said.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But, my image of her is sort of contradictory. That on one hand she would be sort of flaunting and you know, do things that would lead somebody to say something like that about her. On the other hand, it would be for her to not be feminine enough, not acting like a woman.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I don't know. I could imagine and rationalize it, but these

Page 22
things happened, that I'm stating. And I guess we just have to leave it at that. As far as I'm concerned. I don't think you need to, you can get…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes, I'm the one that's on the spot.
ARTHUR RAPER:
You can get some insights and you can use the rest.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. I need to be fairer. I mean, I feel fairly objective about it, but I just don't know…Was it true that he didn't want her to come as director of women's work in the first place? She felt that that was so, but I don't…
ARTHUR RAPER:
She may have felt that that was true, but I think that if he hadn't wanted her, she wouldn't have been there. So far as I know, Alexander wasn't somebody who just accomodated somebody just because they wanted to come to Atlanta.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, why did he keep her on, if he disliked her so much.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I haven't said that he disliked her so much. This is yours, and I'm not saying that it's incorrect, but I don't think that he disliked her so much. He appreciated the fact that she had gotten these women together within this "women do their thing", however so much he…in other words, it was worth it. It maybe wasn't the way he wished it could have been done.
Now, there was a woman who worked… did you run into the name of Maude Henderson?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
ARTHUR RAPER:
O.K. Maude Henderson was there before…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right.

Page 23
ARTHUR RAPER:
And Maude Henderson lived with Mrs. Raper's parents in Druid Hills. Now, never anything like this, that I ever heard, and Maude Henderson was there, just before I came. I think Mrs. Ames was there when I came, in '26. When did she come?
JACQUELYN HALL:
She came in '29.
ARTHUR RAPER:
She came in '29? Well, I came in '26, so I was there some time before she was, now that's interesting, I didn't know it. But then, you can't remember everything.You'll find out later. She came in '29. Came from Texas. O.K. Mrs. Henderson may have still been there then when I first…I guess she was. But never a word like that did Alexander ever say about her. But then she wasn't this driving, she couldn't have set up that women's association that Mrs. Ames set up. And Alexander knew that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, what was the difference between Mrs. Tilly and Mrs. Ames that made Tilly so much more able to get along better with Alexander?
ARTHUR RAPER:
I don't know, she was just…it was personality. She was just a very quiet, effective…she knew exactly where the sun had come up every morning and where it was going to go down that night. And she had thought a great deal about these things, she was utterly committed to the things that Alexander was talking about and that Mrs. Ames was talking about. That was the reason that Mrs. Ames could do it, because that were a few women around her that went at it. Now, some of those women…if I had the list of the names and tried to

Page 24
remember back then, I would make some slips like from '26 to '29, but I could pretty well tell you which of those women had already as it were, received the Holy Spirit before Mrs. Ames got to working with them. And which ones camein under her and Mrs. Tilly and these other women, you see. This esprit d'corps that they developed. In fact, I could pretty well estimate…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, let me ask you this along those lines, if it's true that the basic research had been done, the Tragedy of Lynching was published, which pretty much established that…
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, it was published in '33….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes, it was later, that's right…
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yes, it came in '33. We published the Lynchings and What They Mean, which was a summary of the statistical material that we had gotten from Tuskegee and something about the cases at the end of '31. And her organization, when was it set up?
JACQUELYN HALL:
It started in '30.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah. Well, it was set up, see, we started talking about this lynching study early in 1930. We were already doing case studies and already come back with them and I had already done the basic research in the files at Tuskegee. I did it in 1929, maybe the first part of 1930. But, we were publishing stuff and there were newspaper releases that Eleazer was putting out—you know, everytime that he could get something—because he was very much interested in it and doing a good job. But, there would not have been a women's anti-lynching effort if there hadn't

Page 25
been the Southern Commission on the Study of Lynching and if we hadn't done this research. Now, you said that it all came awfully close together. Well, it did and logically, because Mrs. Ames was there, you say she came in '29, O.K., you're looking for new fields and new things to do and you've got to Atlanta and here you are at the central office of the Interracial Commission and it's a pretty logical thing, I think. I didn't have exactly what those dates were. You see, I was off on Mrs. Ames, I didn't have it right and missed it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
This is my question, well, two related questions. One big question. Why did lynching decline? Secondly, how important was the ASWPL really in the decline of lynching? Among all the different factors that caused its decline. Was the ASWPL…
ARTHUR RAPER:
The dominant factor?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well…yes.
ARTHUR RAPER:
If you have an inclination sometime, if you want to, I'll show you the clippings that came out when, I think I have a set of clippings on—I know I have— that came out when the book came out, but then this is a little bit after the fact, in terms of her organization. Because that was '33. Of course, she ran on up towards '40. I don't know, lynching is related to a thing that I was trying to say last night, near the end of the session over there. There are periods when combinations of circumstances make it possible for new things to emerge

Page 26
and then there are periods when you are making progress even if you just don't lose ground. And we're in one of those now, very pronouncedly. And lynching…I don't know, I think that the work of the Southern Commission for the Study of Lynching, plus the work of Mrs. Ames' group would weigh in there, would weigh in very heavily as one of the reasons for the decline.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, the research was done, the analysis, the research was done by other people, but she and her organization spread the word. What was their validity? That's what I'm trying to get at. If she had not organized that movement, but the research had been done, so that this general argument was there, then, what would have happened?
ARTHUR RAPER:
About the same thing. Maybe not quite. It was an additional plus…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, this is a hard question, how do you say how much…
ARTHUR RAPER:
I don't think you can. But the nature of mob violence relates to a whole bunch of factors and the one thing that came into the situation in 1930, see, we were going into the Depression and what not, We weren't going into heydays, we were going into hard days and the lynchings might have gone up tremendously before you got to '35. And as it was, they generally stayed below what they had been five years before. And the thing that came in there was the Southern Commission on the Study of Lynching and plus Mrs. Ames' work. And that was new.

Page 27
And it simply wasn't respectable to use protection of Southern white women as a defense for lynching any longer. And Mrs. Ames made a very real contribution, exactly at that point, as I said when I first started on it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did you call her "feminist" tin the beginning? Did she call herself that?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah. She just said, now…she hadn't been in Atlanta, whenever it was when she came…she hadn't been in Atlanta any length of time at all until she sort of let it be known that she was the person who was heading up the women and that we didn't know how to work with women and that kind of thing, you know. Well, it worked with some of the women, and it didn't. Some didn't say it that way, they didn't think that way and they were very effective. Mrs. Albright in the Southern Methodist Missionary Society, she was a little before this. But, she had been a very stable and sound woman leader in the work of the Interracial Commission. And she didn't have this "this has to be done that way." She (Mrs. Ames) came up from Texas, she knew how to work with women and women worked differently from men, and I mean, well, she just sort of said that and said it in that tone of voice. Of course, we all heard it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right. Well, one thing that puzzles me, I have it…she was a feminist clearly, but she also said very critical things about women.

Page 28
I don't know how much real solidarity she felt with other women. She seemed to admire men and male qualities, agressiveness and efficiency and be critical of other women for being sentimental and you know, those kind of things.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, that was the very thing that Alexander and Eleazer, particularly Eleazer, sort of turned them off on her. They felt that women should be delicate, they shouldn't be bossy and loud and coarse. And every now and then, she'd exhibit all those qualities.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Coarse? Did she curse and use bad language?
ARTHUR RAPER:
No, she'd sort of stomp around.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who do you know that's like her. How can I get a picture of what she was like? Did you ever know anybody else that was like that?
ARTHUR RAPER:
No, Mrs. Ames was one of her own.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you see her in some ways as being like contemporary, very hard line feminist, you know, in the Women's Liberation Movement. The spokesmen? Do you think she would have felt sympathetic toward that?
ARTHUR RAPER:
She would have towards women having their own thing. She had a feeling that there was a mystique about the female species, that was something transcendent and that you had to know that and be part of that, or you couldn't do this thing. She had that, and that flattered some women and they liked it to some extent. But, she didn't do it in this loving indirect way, she sort of came at you with a wheelbarrow and a shovel.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did she choose, I know the obvious things, it's just what we

Page 29
were talking about earlier, that she was successful in this and this was where she could make her mark.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B] [interruption]
ARTHUR RAPER:
…by the men, rationalize pretty much, particularly at the political level, that this was necessary to protect white women. O.K. now, she's a white woman.
JACQUELYN HALL:
This is a way that her feminism could come into the racial issue.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Right, right. And it's very much more difficult to work with interracial relations and affect anything than it is to take one segment and a very raw and vibrant aspect of it.
This fitted in with her Texas background.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How Texas?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Oh, Texas is the frontier. Texas does have its rowdies, Texas is a bombast. And if you can lie, if you can brag and tell the truth, "Brag" says the Texan. If you can't, why brag anyhow. Well, I mean, Texas and Oklahoma and that whole area, it's just a different kind of world from what you have in the older Southeast. They have qualities and some of them are wonderful, but there was a lot of lawlessness and braggadocio and bigness goes with it. So, she came in with that into this rather, in some ways with a woman's point of view, particularly the man's attitude towards the woman, to this woman who was meek, and loving and taking care of the man and so she walked in and took a look

Page 30
at this and said, "Humm…we'll put in some licks here."
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes… Was she real sensitive, I mean did she put people on the spot for making remarks about women that she didn't like or if they had a condescending attitude toward women. Did she put people up against the wall on the woman issue? Or did she just exude…
ARTHUR RAPER:
She just exuded. No, she never did take me to task and I was trying to think if I ever heard her take Eleazer to task. I don't think I did. But, it wasn't that, it was just the attitude, just this and this and this. If you were going out of a door and the two of you happened to get there at the same time, she would just…
JACQUELYN HALL:
So, you wouldn't open the door for her?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Just symbolic. She would, the way I'm feeling that is what I'm trying to say. But, I don't articulate it so that it gets across to anybody. But, it was not a matter of "now these are the rules and you've got to live by them with me in here in the office." It wasn't that at all, it was rather an attitude of, well, this mystique, coming back to that…it's as close as I can get.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. That's really interesting.
ARTHUR RAPER:
And we just didn't know anything about it. We weren't part of it. You had to be part of it, to know anything about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did she like men?
ARTHUR RAPER:
I really don't know. I don't think she did, very much. I think

Page 31
she liked the masculine, in so far as men are domineering and what not, I think she liked the qualities of men, but whether she liked men, I don't know.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What you were saying about the lynching issue versus interracial reform reminds me of another thing I wanted to ask you. What about the decision that she made to exclude black women from the women's anti-lynching organization. Do you remember the controversy around that? I've had a hard time dealing with that. My sense from going to the records was that at the time, it was not a big issue, although some people objected to it, but people who have read my work seem to see that as a big thing, you know, real significant that she would do that and how can I explain the exclusion of blacks…
ARTHUR RAPER:
O.K. Let me give you another part of the backdrop in Atlanta. There was an organization that was called the Association for the Preservation of the White Race. Did you run into this?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
ARTHUR RAPER:
See, this is all white. Now, when they came into this, I remembered some of those first discussions and this will show in the records, I'm sure and you're well aware of it. When they first started talking about this women's anti-lynch business, there were some black women in there. And then as time went on, it got all white. But, it didn't it started off as an interracial discussion. See, the Southern

Page 32
Commission for the Study of Lynching was interracial through and through. Members and research and everything. I don't know all the rationale that went into theirs. I know that it was never discussed in a meeting with the Interracial Commission as such. It wasn't discussed at any annual meeting of…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, since the interracial aspects of things was so important, why wasn't that very scandalous? [interruption]
ARTHUR RAPER:
Now, ask your question again. I think it's a good question, but I want to be sure that I got what you said.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why they excluded black women and how the black people on the Interracial/Commission felt about that? It evidently was not a big issue at the time.
ARTHUR RAPER:
It was not a big issue at the time. Now, you could ask me whether Mrs. Ames was carrying on some other interracial work that involved Negros…
JACQUELYN HALL:
She was doing that, wasn't she?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yes, but I can't tell you what it was. She wasn't working on, so far as I can recall, she wasn't working on anything else educational, she wasn't working on anything that had to do with health, she wasn't working on anything that had to do with economics or anything that had to do with welfare. That I remember. So, I don't know what she would have been doing. This thing just about took up her time and it was, I repeat, so utterly and crucially to the bull's eye on this thing that

Page 33
had been identified, and they were the people who had the voice… the white women.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did it have anything to do with her racial attitudes, her attitudes toward black people? Do you think that she found that a convenient way to avoid having to work with black women?
ARTHUR RAPER:
I hardly think so. I don't know. I simply…she had her show, as you said. And she was encouraged to go ahead with this original work. Now, see, I could imagine this now, now this is imagination. But I could imagine that she would have felt, "Well, I can go to the sheriff down in Baker County, Georgia better with an all white group than if I have an interracial group." I don't know. I don't know if that entered into.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But you yourself weren't critical of the ASWPL for excluding black women? You didn't think that was a real weakness or an affront to blacks?
ARTHUR RAPER:
I don't recapture now any particular…I seem to remember something of…, as I'm dwelling on it now, something of the recall of why did we do it this way, "isn't there some way we can do it and keep them in, because we are an interracial commission." But there was nothing that came out so that it was anything like this other stuff that we've talked about here that was out in the open.
Now, did you run across anything where the Negro women were talking about this?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well,….
ARTHUR RAPER:
In your letters to her or the letters that she wrote to anybody

Page 34
explaining.
JACQUELYN HALL:
References to it being brought up in annual meeting during the early thirties when they were organizing and… [interruption] Well, we've got to close this, but how would you characterize her political attitudes in comparison to your own and her racial and political beliefs?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, she was a Texas Democrat. Big D. As was Tom Connally. She was of the stripe of Tom Connally. I had voted the Socialist ticket back when I was younger and I had worked with Harry Laedler and Roger Baldwin and Eliott Pratt. I doubt if she ever voted the Socialist ticket.
JACQUELYN HALL:
She never thought about economic problems and problems of class and…
ARTHUR RAPER:
So far as I know, she didn't, no. But she was somewhat interested in the work that I was doing in Greene and Macon Counties and the reports that I was making into the Commission and the things that we were writing. She was somewhat interested in those, but I don't remember her ever, and I haven't thought about this until right now, but I don't remember her ever saying, "Well, it looks like a program should be developed around this need that you've identified here, these facts that you've got here. Maybe we could go down there and talk with some people and do something about it." Nothing like that.

Page 35
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, what about race? Well, with integration for example, was there differences between the two of you or between her and Will Alexander on the issue of segregation or on any kind of racial issues? Or do you feel there was pretty much solidarity of the general attitudes the…
ARTHUR RAPER:
I think she was less inclined to associate with Negros than we were.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is that right?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Yeah.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why is that?
ARTHUR RAPER:
Well, I don't know. Now, you're calling to my attention that this was an all-white organization…from when?
JACQUELYN HALL:
From the beginning pretty much. I mean, there were black women at the early meetings, but by the time it was organized in 1931, it was all white.
ARTHUR RAPER:
I know there were black women at some of those meetings, because I was there and I know there were blacks there. You know, when you get older, you find things a little bit suprising. I'm wondering, I would have said if somebody had asked me if I knew, without any of the background that you've given me here, because you've looked into that particular thing more than I have…I just remember what I remember…But I would have said that I thought Mrs. Ames stayed in touch with Mrs. Moton as long as she was there and then later with Mrs. Hope and some of the other Negro women, even while she was doing

Page 36
this with the white women and had this organization, that she had some of these thing back here and she was reporting and talking about some of the stuff that happened over here in this association. Now, that would be what I assumed happened. I mean, if somebody just stopped me and said, "Hey, how was that? Was that all white, or was that mixed?" Well, the thrust of that particular activity was white, but it was, there was back in here, an interracial group.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And they had joint meetings sometimes. They had black women who would come to ASWPL annual meetings. There was some crossover like that. Her daughter told me that she in the end, especially after she got much older and really was dying, that real hostility toward black people kept coming out.
ARTHUR RAPER:
Really?
JACQUELYN HALL:
But I don't know, I don't want to make anything of that.
ARTHUR RAPER:
No, let us all die in peace.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Exactly. But, I do have a hard time pinning down, I mean, I'm not interested in that, when she was older, but in pinning down. I don't want to call her by a label, you know, was she a liberal or a moderate? But I do have to make some kind of judgements about where she was in the political spectrum and she's hard to pin down.
ARTHUR RAPER:
She wasn't among the liberals.
JACQUELYN HALL:
She wasn't.
ARTHUR RAPER:
She was not. She was pretty much a Tom Connally Texas Democrat. And it doesn't surprise me at all, as I said, that it doesn't surprise

Page 37
me that there was a letter from her to Tom Connally. It doesn't surprise me at all that you say when she was getting very old, she got irritated with the Negros. That doesn't surprise me one single bit. I would have rather expected that it would come out. But even then, she made her contribution and it was a very distinctive, definitive one and I hope that you can tell her story.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, I do too. I'll do my best.
END OF INTERVIEW