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Title: Oral History Interview with Phillips Russell, November 18, 1974. Interview B-0011-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Russell, Phillips, interviewee
Interview conducted by Frederickson, Mary
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 104 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 and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-01-04, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Phillips Russell, November 18, 1974. Interview B-0011-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0011-3)
Author: Mary Frederickson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Phillips Russell, November 18, 1974. Interview B-0011-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0011-3)
Author: Phillips Russell
Description: 116 Mb
Description: 25 p.
Note: Interview conducted on November 18, 1974, by Mary Frederickson; 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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Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Phillips Russell, November 18, 1974.
Interview B-0011-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Russell, Phillips, interviewee


Interview Participants

    PHILLIPS RUSSELL, interviewee
    MARY FREDERICKSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You attended Chapel Hill, didn't you, for college?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, I came here at the turn of the century, in the year 1900 as a student. I stayed here and graduated and I was always interested in writing and I went into journalism and newspaper work for awhile and eventually wound up in New York where I stayed for quite a few years.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Weren't you at the London School of Economics for awhile?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I never went to the London School of Economics, I went to London on my own.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, I see.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I worked on an English newspaper. I was the only American on the London Daily Express.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was that during the '20s?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, it was. Well, let's see, I came back from there in the fall of '25, so it must have been about 1921 that I went over to England on a visit and stayed there nearly five years.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you covering all sorts of things for their paper or were you . . .
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well yes, at first, but later on when they found out that I was an American and must have a lot of good American ideas, they made me a kind of . . . well, an idea man for promoting the paper, boosting it and booming it and advertising and publicizing it in various ways. The owner of the paper was Lord Beaverbrook, who was a Canadian. He was very interested in American ways and all and I think that it was his influence that pushed me along. He wanted to see how it would work out there.

Page 3
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were there the year that Frank Graham was at the London School of Economics, weren't you?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Would you say that again?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you there the year that President Graham, then Professor Graham, went over to study?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you have a lot of contact with him that year?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes. I saw him several times. We had some long walks and talks. That was one reason that I eventually wound up here in the faculty. He became convinced that there was a place for me here in the faculty and he saw to it that I was invited. So, I came here. This was, of course, several years after my return from England and that was just about forty years ago. I have been here ever since.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember any of the other Americans who were there that year? Lois MacDonald, who I spoke with, was there, do you remember her at all?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, I just remember her briefly and vaguely. I didn't make any special endeavor to meet or cultivate other Americans there because I wanted to see how it would be if I just subjected myself to all the phases of English life that were possible under the circumstances. Americans in foreign cities, I've found, tend to congregate together and really be influenced to avoid meeting any of the natives on that account. Well, my attitude was the opposite.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I understand. Now, when Frank Graham called and asked you about the trade union school at Black Mountain, that is something entirely different from the Southern Summer School, right?

Page 4
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No. I don't remember the title, but I don't remember whether they were the same thing or not, we, in talking it over, just called it the trade union school or the union school, you see. It was backed by the Textile Workers Union. I don't think that this was the same t thing as the Southern Summer School. This was more strictly labor. The Textile Workers Union sent the organizers there from time to time to see how we were doing.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, what was your first contact with the Southern Summer School?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I don't remember. A lot of this, I've almost forgotten about it because it has been so long and so many things have happened since. Well, Mrs. McLaren . . . she was in the Southern Summer School, wasn't she?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She was the director, right.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, I had one summer with her in Asheville. It was on the grounds of the college there. But that was a different thing from the textile workers school.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember much about Mrs. McLaren?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Oh yes, I remember her very well.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What kind of a person was she, what was she like?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, she was a large, gentle woman, very nice always in her manners. I would call her a typical southern matron. I always got along well with her and as far as I know, we were always the best of friends. Her husband was with her part of the time and she had two or three assistants or associates . . . we didn't get along quite so well. I mean, I didn't get along as well with her associates, but Mrs. McLaren

Page 5
was all right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember any of the associates specifically?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I can't remember their names, it has been so long. One of them was a man who became editor of the Monthly Review of New York. It was kind of a liberal and labor magazine.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The Monthly Review of New York?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, but I can't remember his name.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Could it have been Leo Huberman?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Huberman, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I had him on my list to ask you.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Huberman, that's right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He taught economics there, didn't he?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, that's right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was his background, or where was he from?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I never knew very much about him. I only saw him in the lecture period when he was at the desk and lecturing for the benefit of the students and I just popped in to listen.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
But I never saw very much of him outside of class.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that you didn't get along with him, what was the root of . . .
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I didn't mean to put it quite that strongly. We just didn't have very much in common. There was no particular antagonism that you could put your finger on or any active dislike. We just found that we hadn't a great deal in common and didn't try to do anything about it. That's all.

Page 6
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was the school set up so that outside of the formal classes you could discuss things? I mean, was there a lot of discussion about trade unions and economic problems?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Oh, yes. Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, everyone would know each other's feelings on that.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, that's right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I am curious to know when you were there, what the feeling was about . . . the school had been in operation for about ten or eleven years before. What came down as far as who had founded it and why it had been founded, what its history was? Do you remember anything?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, not much. As to the history of the thing, there wasn't very much discussion. It was more about contemporary problems in the labor movement and so on among the unions which took up most of the discussions.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Do you remember Mildred Price?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, she was one of them, Mrs. McLaren's associates.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember anything specifically about her? She taught English, I think, didn't she?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, that is my recollection. No, I saw her, as I say, chiefly in classrooms but not much outside of that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Who did you see outside, in the evenings and so on? You were fairly isolated on the campus, weren't you?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, I was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Who did you tend to talk to? [laughter]
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, not much of anybody. I was older than anybody else there and I had a different set of views in at least one respect. That is,

Page 7
at that time, I had just been traveling around the country with Big Bill Hayworth, the labor agitator. I was going to write his life and so, I traveled with him a good deal. I had a little New York apartment where he used to come and stay overnight when he wanted to hide, you see. So, we got along very well together and we had everything all arranged when he was put under indictment by the U.S. government at the beginning of the agitation about war and he was an anti-war man. They indicted him along with some IWW leaders and the next thing I knew, Bill was on a ship bound for Russia and I never saw him again.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, how did this help form your view of what was going on in labor? What was your feeling after he left?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, of course I felt right much let down because I wanted to use this not only as a biography but also as a history, there being nothing of the kind available at the time. I was all the time supposing, as I think he supposed, that after a visit over there in Russia, things over here would quiet down and he would return and resume where he left off.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you communicate with him by letter while he was gone?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I never did. There were too many possible consequences.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was the feeling among the people at the school . . . how was there view different of what was going on than yours?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
There were two schools of thought then in the labor movement. One was that what the AFL does today is going into political action, voting and getting out the vote and all like that. Whereas my own view and that of my better friends was that economic action was just as needed as political. We had a fear that labor would grow stronger

Page 8
on its own field, that is, of economics, rather than just going to the polls every couple of years and dropping a piece of paper in the ballot box.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, as far as political activity was concerned, it was a very confusing time in the late thirties. What did those associates of Mrs. McLaren like Huberman, what did Huberman want to do?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, he was a political activist, as was Mildred Price. In fact, I would say that all the assistants and associates of Mrs. McLaren were political actionists. I didn't oppose that or argue against it, but I didn't think that it was strong enough.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You didn't think they were strong enough?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I didn't think that political action was strong enough. I didn't think that it would get the results in a way that strong economic action would.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you say strong economic action, do you mean programs like the New Deal programs that had been instituted?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, that's political. The New Deal was all political. Economic action implies something different from voting, you see. Voting doesn't necessarily come into it at all. That is, voting for the usual array of candidates that were all picked at a distance and unknown to you personally. What was called direct action at the time was . . . well, it might imply a strike or it might imply taking some . . . well, for instance, during that Lawrence strike at Lawrence, Massachusetts, which was one of the few that Haywood controlled or bossed at the time. He got the children sent away, you see, out of town where they could be better taken care of, better fed and so on because a strike always means that somebody's income suffers. So, that would be a manouver that wouldn't be political, you see.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I understand. So, it would be directly related to the local

Page 9
area that you are talking about rather than a broad national program?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, it could be localized or you could make a countywide movement of it or a statewide, as far as that is concerned.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But it would tend to be more directly related to the people involved?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well yes, that would be the chief point of it, to give the people some feeling of relationship and control towards what was going on.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In the article that you wrote on the Southern Summer School for the Carolina Magazine, you spoke of the practical experience that the students had, of how important that was in the program of the school. How did the students react to the classes that Huberman and Mildred Price taught? How did they tend to react?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, they were very respectful towards anything that was supposed to help them, but I thought that you could pretty well tell that they were not always very excited about it. They took these things as routine, more or less. They didn't talk about it very much after the classes were over. It is just that this school I'm thinking of now was Mary McLaren's school at Asheville College in Asheville. Now, we had another one that I liked much better and got more from that was at Black Mountain this side of Asheville. There, the union people from all over the South, as far away as Texas, took control of their own affairs and ran them pretty much as they liked.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Even in the school itself?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
At the Southern Summer School, at Mrs. McLaren's school,

Page 10
what was the relationship between that school and labor organizers?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, it was very friendly. Labor organizers used to come by the Southern Summer School, pay a visit or deliver a lecture, something like that to show their interest and friendship. But the other, at Black Mountain, was strictly a textile workers union, you see and they organized it and ran it. A chap named Larry . . . I forget his last name, it will come to me in a minute . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Rogan?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, Rogan, that's right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He was running the textile school?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
He was running it for the union, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
He was a very lively, energetic fellow and we had a very interesting school of it. Well, there was quite a difference between the Southern Summer School and this textile workers course that I am speaking of. For instance, to give you a few illustrations of the difference, one of my first assignments as a teacher was, I said, "Write me a little account of your visit here, your leaving home and climbing into a railroad car to bring you here. Don't put too much detail but give me an account of the important happenings and the effect made upon you and so on." Well, I could tell that they all liked that. I tried to think of subjects that they would be naturally interested in, not anything too dry or formal or too abstract. Well, all the members of this class turned in a paper except one man who was a member of an Alabama union. He was a middle-aged man, rather well dressed with . . . I would say that you would judge him to be a middle-class business man if you saw him walking by. Well, he didn't hand in a paper and he didn't the second day. So, I called him aside and asked him what was the matter

Page 11
because everybody was due to hand in a paper. Well he said, "Mr., I might as well tell you, I can't read or write." What are you going to do? You ask a man to write a paper and he says that he can't even read or write. This Alabama delegation had some of the prettiest . . . well, if they had moved some of these girls into the fellows' course in New York, they would have been accepted right away. Lovely girls, nice manners and everything. They were typical southerners and so on and plenty smart, smart enough to keep up with what I gave them and so on. We tried to divide the time up equally into studies on one hand and recreation on the other. We had dances every evening and we had baseball and track contests and so on. There was something going on all the time. A lot of these people blossomed out like flowers, as it were. As soon as they got over their fear that something bad was going to be done to them, they just enjoyed it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How closely involved was the faculty of Black Mountain, were they running the school or helping to run it? The regular faculty of the college?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, Larry Rogan was the head of it and he picked his own people, some of them came there for only one day or two days or maybe three days, something like that. Others, just one or two, stayed there regularly. We had one meeting here with the textile workers after we had all returned to Chapel Hill. There were quite a few of them from the Durham cotton mills. Quite often, when I would go to Durham, somebody would call my name from the streets and it would be one of these delegates that had grown up since I had last seen them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I could have imagined that they would have. I have a couple of other people that I wanted to ask you about. Do you remember a William Wolfe?

Page 12
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I remember that name, but I can't quite place him.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I think that he taught dramatics.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Oh, yes. I believe that I do remember him. That's another thing that I shouldhave mentioned. We had very strong classes in dramatics. They all liked that, putting on a play and rehearsing for it and listening to it. They went in clean overboard for that, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Clean overboard? [laughter]
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes. [laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you think that less time should have been spent on that sort of thing?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, no. Just the contrary. They had been starved for this kind of thing all their lives. They had never had any taste of it. They were amazed to find that they could do it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about Grace Lumpkin, do you remember her?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, just in passing. I never got very well acquainted with her.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You don't remember anything specific about her?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about Joel Layton?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, the same thing. I remember him, but not very well.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever meet Mary Barker? She was chairman of the board of the school for a long time.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Barker? No, I never met her. I heard her name mentioned, but she didn't visit there during my time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
While you were there, you taught English classes?

Page 13
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, yes. I taught English composition and writing and speaking, debating and so on along with working as much trade union business as was possible under the circumstances.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there not very much emphasis on trade unions? Did you think there wasn't enough?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, a great many of them didn't realize that there was anything to it except joining the union and paying their dues afterwards?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was this on the part of the students or on the part of the staff?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
The students. We are talking now about two different things and I don't want to get them confused. On the one hand, we are talking about Mrs. McLaren's Southern Summer School and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. I was going back to Mrs. McLaren's school.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Now, that was at Asheville and that was one thing, but the school that really had more life in it in my view, was the one at Black Mountain which was controlled by the textile workers union.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
For how many years did the one at Black Mountain go on?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, I don't remember what its total life was. As I recall, I think that I attended three different schools.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. This was later, after you had gone to Mrs. McLaren's school, right?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
During the war?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, I forget where the war figured in. The war didn't bother us very much. The only time that I have any war recollections was

Page 14
at the textile workers school where a bunch of ambulance drivers came over in uniform to play us in baseball. They wore their uniforms and that was the only war evidence that we saw.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, to go back to McLaren's school, when you were there, didn't you work with some student assistants? Didn't they bring in some students from the colleges?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, they . . . well, they were brought in, but they were chiefly social visitors.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. I've been trying to figure out how much control Mrs. McLaren had over the school. Did she seem to be in control?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
She was the boss. Everything of an objective nature had to pass through her hands.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She did keep tabs on everything that was going on?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did they raise their money?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Now that, I don't know. I never got interested in the financial aspect of these things because that was outside of my province.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that you thought the school at Black Mountain was much more lively and effective in what they were doing. What would you say was the biggest problem that Mrs. McLaren's school had? Why wasn't it as good, as active?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, the affliction was the same that gets all schools like that, too much direction from above, you see. In other words, the teachers wanted to be in exclusive control and managed to work things around so that they got complete control and everything was subject to their orders, you see.

Page 15
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, in their classrooms, did they control discussion and control . . .
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, but of course, that was to be expected but I mean that everything that went on in the school came down from above. It didn't come from below as it did with the textile workers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You mean that the students weren't encouraged . . . I mean, one of the whole tenets of workers education, as I understand it, was to start with what the students had and move from there.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you feel that they failed in that?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I wouldn't call it failure so much as an indifference to it. That is, it didn't seem to be a factor that anybody worried about. The students accepted it because that was the way that all the schools worked that they had come from. They didn't object to it because that was what they were used to, but I saw it more and more as we went along because I thought that there should have been more spontaneity and encouragement among the students. That poor middle-aged fellow that I was talking about, I feared that he would be ignored in the McLaren type of school whereas in the other, something would have been found that he could attend to or be responsible for.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there pressure on the students to conform to what . . .
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, no pressure. It wasn't like that type of civilian school where the cadets are put in uniform and all that. Not at all that way. It was simply that the teachers believed that they knew what was best for the students and that meant in a good many cases that the student wasn't allowed to develop because all his time was taken up from above. He had to obey orders.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there any split that you can remember in the faculty?

Page 16
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
All the faculty was following the same basic . . .
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Except for you. [laughter]
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
It was due to a mistake that I got there in the first place. It is quite awkward what happened. In the middle . . . well, they hadn't even reached the middle of the school term and McLaren's school decided that they needed another man and they knew about a student here whose name was Phillips Russell, the same as mine, you see. Well, they wired him to come on. So, the telegram was delivered to me and since I had nothing particular to do and was interested in this sort of thing, I bundled up and showed up there. Well, when they found out what at happened, Mrs. McLaren at least, made the best of it and said, "Tomorrow, would you do so and so." We worked out a modus operendi so to speak that did very well under the circumstances. I don't mean to imply altogether were any blackeye, I'm not finding fault with them or criticizing them. They simply followed in the footsteps of all the schools that they knew about, which made the teachers supreme. The teachers were order givers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The only reason that I keep asking about it or that I am so puzzled about it is because as they wrote about their teaching and as the people who are left talk about it now, that isn't what they were trying to do. I mean, they were trying to do the opposite, they were trying to change the system. That's why I said, "failure," because they were talking about doing one thing and you perceived them as doing the opposite. I mean, they talk about greater equality between students and teachers and how there was really no difference between them, everyone

Page 17
was learning from everyone else and the teachers weren't held up as supreme.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes. Well, I would explain that with a parallel that in any normal civilian school, the teachers after they have been there twenty years and you call on them all of a sudden to give up their authority as teachers and to do things in a different way, you found out what the habit is. They have just become accustome to a certain mode of operation that they call teaching school and they keep on with that because that is the only thing they know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, Huberman had taught, I believe. I think that he was teaching at Columbia.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes. Huberman was an experienced teacher, but he was a lecturer. He was brought up as a lecturer and he delivered a pretty good lecture, too, but it wasn't the same thing that you got with the textile workers, you see. They would ask questions or stand up and object or create a discussion after the class or something. Mrs. McLaren, Huberman and Miss Price were all devoted people, hard workers and willing to give their last ounce of energy to this enterprise, but who could only do the thing as they were accustomed to doing it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, you would put McLaren in the boat with the other two, right?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, she wasn't a teacher, at least at the time that I was with her. She was an executive, you see. She was the head of the office.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, while you were there, she didn't teach any classes or hold any . . .

Page 18
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, she had one, as I recall, that she conducted, but I never saw her in action. I was busy elsewhere.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I read one letter from a student who was complaining about Huberman and said that he expected everyone to follow what he was saying. In other words, it was not indoctrination, that was too strong a word, but he had an idea and he wanted everyone else to follow it.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And that he controlled the flow of discussion in his classroom and wouldn't let dissenting opinion come in.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well yes, that is exactly what I am referring to. That was what was the dominant position among the teachers there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, you came back for a second year even though it was a mixup . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . but I thought from the records of the school that I've been going through that you were there for two years in a row.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No. Let's see. As soon as I found out that I was not the Phillips Russell that they wanted, I stayed on at their request because they needed that much extra help. I wouldn't have come back, however. I wouldn't have felt welcome and in the second place, I didn't think that they were working on the right lines there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you meet Lois MacDonald at all?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, it seems to me that I did, but I didn't get any definite impression there.

Page 19
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She had a sort of a falling out with the school about the same time that you were there.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember anything about that?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I don't. I just heard something about it afterwards. Nothing that made any great impression on me. No, it was the textile workers school at Black Mountain that as I recall, I went to for three different summers. I remember that the last one, we kept it going so late in the fall that they mornings began to be freezing.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember H.C. Nixon? He wrote Forty Acres and Steel Mules?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I never met him.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Huberman left. You see, Huberman only taught economics at the school for two years and then he left. Do you remember anything about that at all?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I don't.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Not why or . . .
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then H.C. Nixon came and taught after that. When you came back to Chapel Hill you said that you were sometimes go over to Durham and see textile workers that you had seen at the Black Mountain School.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about any kind of effect or reputation or opinion of the Southern Summer School, McLaren's school, that people in a community like Chapel Hill might have? Did they know anything about it?

Page 20
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No. They didn't know and didn't care. Just a very few people would be interested but not enough to make any difference.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever talk to Frank Graham about the Southern Summer School?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Oh, yes. Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, he was on their board for a long time.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He wasn't able to visit the school very often. Do you think that he had visited the school he would have been happy with what they were doing?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I think eventually he would have felt doubtful about the same thing that I felt doubtful about. That is, that the teachers were too dominant. Just as Huberman objected to being interrupted or having anything happen that would interfer with his lecture, you see. Now, that wouldn't be regarded as a serious offense, but depending on the teacher's reaction.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that Huberman and Mildred Price were politically active, or political activists. Was McLaren as politically active as they were?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, none of them were active in any political sense but they just went out and voted at elections, that's all. That's all I meant by it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were they not . . . were they pushing any kind of . . . I mean, were they asking people to join in any particular political party?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did they talk about political parties?

Page 21
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, nothing like that, no.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And McLaren was as far as you know, not . . . I just have trouble understanding how in '38 or '39 when political parties in this country were, I mean, when there were so many third parties that were active and I think that some of these people must have been active in political parties and that it didn't come out at the school.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, there was nothing like that. They were teachers, they were educationists and they were just interested in schooling. They wouldn't go out and solicit anybody's vote, no.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And they wouldn't solicit any students to join a certain party?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It seems like Huberman, from his book . . . he had written several books when he was at the school. He wrote The Labor Spy Racket and Man's Worldly Goods and he seemed in Man's Worldly Goods to be extremely interested, as I guess that everyone was, in the Five Year Plan in Russia and the rise of communism. I just wondered if he . . . he certainly seems to have taught Marxist economics.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Would you say that was the line that his class followed?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But it was completely in a closed, economic academic sense?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
That's right. It was all academic, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think there is any possibility that these people could have been members of the Communist Party and just very quiet about it?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Possibly, but I don't think any of them were. I think

Page 22
that it would have shown on them. A Communist doesn't keep that quiet.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was going to ask you if at the time, a Communist might not have been able to say . . .
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
If there had been any Communists, they would have shown themselves there. There was a terrific antagonism against the Communist when they first came out.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This would be before the end of the thirties?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It is hard to understand how in such a politically active time there wouldn't have been any discussion of politics?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
[laughter] No, you misunderstood me. That was what the discussion was about. That was what they did talk about but they didn't go out on the street and grab a man and say, "Will you vote for my friend, Bill Smith who is a good Socialist or a good Communist?" That wasn't the way it was done.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
O.K., so they were just advocating political action?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I don't understand, I'm sorry. [laughter]
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, they just took it for granted that if you were talking certain principles that they would act on them through the ballot box when election time came up, but they didn't make a drive at you to see that you did it or that you needed any definite propulsion towards the polling place. It was just an understood thing that as a citizen when you got to be twenty-one years old, you were going to vote.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
O.K.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
And you voted in a way that would benefit your political party or your trade union or whatever you belonged to.

Page 23
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But it was all in very general terms?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And they weren't actively going out and like you say, getting some of the vote for a particular candidate or trying to put a particular candidate into office?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No. Unless it was some particular internal affair where there were two factions in the same group and one wanted to elect its candidates over the other, you would expect to see some form of solicitation then but otherwise, no.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you know what happened to Huberman, where he went or what he did? Have you ever heard of him since?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes, I have heard of him since. He ran a kind of speakers bureau after he came back from Asheville and he continued to write books and deliver lectures for a few years. His magazine, which he called the Monthly Review is, I understand, still running but somebody else has charge of it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I'll have to look at that.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
I'm not sure about what is happening to it, but I think that it is still coming out.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about any of the other people that you can think of? Have you ever seen or heard from them again?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I have lost touch with them entirely. I used to keep in fair touch with Larry Rogan who was in charge of the other school. We have occasionally exchanged a letter or something like that, but after awhile, he dropped out and I lost touch with him too.

Page 24
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He later, after 1940, he became quite active in the Southern Summer School, too. Correct me . . . maybe you can't help me with this, but I have a feeling that the school was quite different in the year that you were there. I think that while Huberman was there, it was quite different from what it was before or after.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
That's quite possible, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he a person with enough influence to change the whole course of something like that?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, he could have, as a Columbia professor, he had more prestige than the rest of them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And do you think that he had enough influence on McLaren?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, I think that whatever he would have proposed would have had considerable weight with Mrs. McLaren, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he popular with students?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, I can't say that he was because he was too dignified and too aloof. He was not the type of man that would have . . . he dressed in overalls and things like that, but he didn't mix with the students.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that because you were from the South, from two miles south of Chapel Hill, that at both the Black Mountain school and the Southern Summer School you got along very well with the students. Did you see in other people besides perhaps Rogan, a difference between North and South? Was there a feeling of people coming from other parts of the country and trying to influence people and events in the South?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No. There were very few from other parts of the country than the South, but not enough to have any weight.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
McLaren was born and brought up in Pennsylvania.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Yes.

Page 25
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It wasn't felt that she was from outside?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, she had been pretty well assimilated, so to speak. As I said, she was a very gentle type of woman and she wouldn't purposely antagonize anybody or anything. She had her husband with her most of the time and he was what you would call an alien. That is, he tried very hard to be friendly, but it wasn't in him.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, really?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
In the afternoon, after the classes were over, I would go out with the students and we would pitch horseshoes. Well, he would join in, he would ask for some shoes and he would pitch, but it was quite evident that he was having a really hard time at it and wasn't enjoying it. He had just read about it as something that an upper class man should do here.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What did he do at the school? Did he teach at all?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, he was a teacher, as I understood it, during the regular term but these were all summer months when he was off.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Did he participate in the school at all?
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
No, not at all.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I thank you very much.
PHILLIPS RUSSELL:
Well, I am afraid that you have gotten a kind of skittish thing.
END OF INTERVIEW