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Title: Oral History Interview with Miriam Bonner Camp, April 15, 1976. Interview G-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Camp, Miriam Bonner, 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, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 372 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© 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:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-05-10, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Miriam Bonner Camp, April 15, 1976. Interview G-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0013)
Author: Miriam Bonner Camp
Description: 98 p.
Note: Interview conducted on April 15, 1976, by Mary Frederickson; recorded in Los Angeles, California.
Note: Transcribed by Patricia Crowley.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series G. Southern Women, 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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Interview with Miriam Bonner Camp, April 15, 1976.
Interview G-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Camp, Miriam Bonner, interviewee


NOTE: Audio for this interview is not available.

Interview Participants

    MIRIAM BONNER CAMP, interviewee
    MARY FREDERICKSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said in your letter that you were born in 1896 in Bonnerton, North Carolina.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, I was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
On the plantation of your great-grandfather. I wondered who was living on the plantation at the time you were born.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
My great-grandfather.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He was still living then?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. And my great-aunt who reared my mother, because her mother had died.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Why were your parents there?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, my father wasn't, I guess [Laughter] —or if he were I don't know about it. My father was a marine engineer at the time, and he and my mother were living with his parents in Washington, North Carolina. And she wanted to have the baby down there at her old home.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I was her first child, so she went there for me, and then two years later for my brother. But I guess by that time my great-grandfather had probably died, because after that all the children were born in Washington, except the one that was born in Azusa, California.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's interesting. Why do you think she wanted to have them born on the plantation?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I don't know. It was her home. And her great-aunt who had reared her, [unknown] (my great-aunt) [unknown] was really like her mother. And there were several doctors there who were cousins, so there was no problem about a doctor.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Was her father there as well?

Page 2
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Her father? No. Her mother had died when my mother was about two years old, I think; I think she died in childbirth. And my great-aunt, my mother's aunt (her mother's sister) said she would take my mother and rear her if my grandfather would never take her away even if he married, that my mother would be left with her. And so he did that, and he did remarry; had three little girls by that woman. But though my mother was friendly with them, would go to visit them, her home was with her great-grandfather and her aunt. They reared her.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Do you remember your great-grandfather then?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I used to rather distinctly, but not much anymore. I was probably about three the last time I saw him.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. You said that when you were very small then your mother took you back to her parents-in-law in Washington.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Back to my father's parents, yes, where they lived. And then after my brother was born, two years later they had a house of their own, and moved about two blocks from my grandparents.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Do you remember your father's parents, your paternal grandparents?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, very well, very well. I was about eleven, I guess, when my grandmother died and twelve when my grandfather died.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. What were they doing in Washington, North Carolina?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, we belonged to the very first white settlers of Bath, the first settlement in North Carolina. Our family lived in Beaufort County, and most of them moved to Washington. [first white settlers in Washington] It was founded by one of my mother's ancestors, Colonel James Bonner.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Bonner was your. . . .

Page 3
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Was my maiden name.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was your maiden name.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I was Miriam Young Bonner.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was your mother's . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
[Laughter] The funny thing is my mother's mother was Miriam Young Bonner, and my mother was Mary Young Best; her father was Robert Best. And then she named her first child for her mother, Miriam Young Bonner. It happened I had the same name because very distantly my mother and father are cousins.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. I was confused about the name [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very distantly.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see, OK. What had most of your relatives in Beaufort County done? Had they been farmers? Did they have land?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Originally, of course, they all had land. But after the war, the Civil War, many of them moved to Washington. Oh, one of my uncles by marriage was a judge of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.1 Another one, was a superior, court judge of the First Judicial District.
I think he was judge of the Supreme Court too. Others were lawyers, some were doctors. My grandfather, oh wholesale groceries he bought for one of his relatives that had a store, I guess, or something. I really don't know too much about what he did. His letters, by the way, my grandfather's letters written to my grandmother during the Civil War, are in the Southern Historical Collection. And I had a very interesting experience. I didn't want to trust the letters, somehow, to the mail, and I took them myself to Chapel Hill. And the man who was in charge of the Southern Historical Collection met me and took me down to the archives [Laughter] .

Page 4
And the funny thing is that that night he showed me that two of my cousins had given their material to that library. One was Herbert Bonner, who had been a congressman from Washington, and the other one was Lindsay Warren, who's been a comptroller-general of the United States in Washington, D.C. And here was I with my grandfather's [Laughter] letters, and he was their uncle—or great-uncle, I guess.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was your grandfather Bonner?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Macon Bonner, my father's father.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Had he fought in the war?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, he was a very youn lieutenant stationed at Fort Fisher near Wilmington. And these are the letters he wrote to my grandmother.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What happened to him after the war? Was he able to come back and sort of pick up where he left off?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, yes. My father was born during the war; he was the oldest of eleven children. But subsequently my grandmother and grandfather had ten more, so he certainly [Laughter] lived on.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Yes, yes. I just wondered. It seems that so many of the young men who went off to war were crushed by the experience. All of a sudden they came back to nothing.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, he came back. I mean, I think he was considered the richest young man in that area. And I guess most of what he had was in [Laughter] Confederate money. Anyway he was very poor after that. They had land; but of course the taxes were so high, nobody to work their land.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So that's when they moved to Washington, moved into town?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well yes, from what we called out in the country.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right, OK. What about your father's life? Do you remember him

Page 5
talking about what it was like when he was a child?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. It was very hard. He was born during the war, when they were refugees. I think he was born in Washington, but they went to Wilson and I don't know how many other places. The town of Washington was burned, I think it was twice. So when he came back they who were well-to-do became poor. And he was the oldest of, I told you, of eventually there were eleven children. And Washington's on a river called the Pamlico River, and he always loved the water. So as soon as he could he went out on the boats. I remember he was going to take out a big boat, and there was nobody to take out this boat. So he wasn't yet twenty-one, but they gave him his pilot's license. So he was always really very fond of the water. But when my mother had these two children she didn't want him away so much. So he bought interest in the ice factory there in Washington and became the general manager and part-owner.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. You said that he was a marine engineer at the time that you were born.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes he was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And he traveled without his . . . ? What exactly did he do?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think it was on what they called. . . . I've so often wished I'd gone into detail about this with him. I had a million chances, and he would have loved it, but it just never occurred to me. But I think it was what they called the Old Dominion Line, and I think they went from Norfolk to Baltimore or something.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So it was the Merchant Marine, right?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, it had nothing to do with the government; I mean it was a private line apparently.

Page 6
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right, that's what I mean.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Old Dominion Line was the name of it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So he never went to college then?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No he didn't.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And started working really when he was very young?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, very young.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about those children who were younger than him? Did he help send them on to school?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no, because he really couldn't, I guess. My family were Episcopalians, and most of the women went to St. Mary's. But my grandmother (his mother) was an unusual student and wrote beautifully. I remember the book club (and I am sure there were others!); she was always a literary person. And she not only had gone to St. Mary's, but she had also gone to Salem. And I guess two of her sisters had been at Salem too, because I had the delightful experience once of meeting a very old lady that somebody told me about. She'd been teaching there when they were there. We went over for the service that the Moravians have, the Easter service, and we went up to see this old lady. Somebody took me when they heard that my grandmother had been there. And she said she remembered the Ellison girls [Laughter] . It was nice to know somebody who had known them when they were young like that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This would have been right before the Civil War then?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, that was before the war.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It would have been.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
And my grandfather, her husband (the one that wrote these letters, Macon Bonner) went to what later became Princeton. At that time it was kind of an academy, and later became Princeton College.

Page 7
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Where did they meet? Were they from the same general area?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes! They grew up together in the same town, in Washington. Everybody there grew up together for generations and generations [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] What did your grandmother study when she was at Salem? Did she maybe spark your first interest in English?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think it was literature and history; she was always very much interested in those. Even I can remember that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you have close contact with her when you were small? Did she maybe teach you to read?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh no, no, she didn't teach me to read. I can't remember when I learned to read, because I was always, it seemed to me, reading. But what help I had probably came from my mother's aunt, the one who reared her, and my mother. My mother was educated to be a teacher, but when she came out here she became a librarian. I'll have to show you her beautiful scroll. You ought to see somebody who really contributed a lot. This was presented to her on her ninetieth birthday.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
"Mary Y. Bonner, whose service to the people of Azusa and the public library spent a longer period of time than that of any other librarian. January 25, 1964." Oh, that's beautiful.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Let's see what it says there. "Whose labors bore fruit in pleasure and learning still manifest among the people of our community, and whose gracious personality is still remembered with affection by thousands of men, women and children. We gratefully offer our warm regards and felicitations on her ninetieth birthday." I am very proud of that. She was a marvelous person.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She started working when you came out here?

Page 8
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, she didn't start the library that soon. She had another child after she came out here. Of course there were seven of us: I was the oldest. But I think I was in Berkeley in 1915 when she started the library.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So she actually started the public library?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh no, no, no. The library was there; it was a Carnegie library.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She became the librarian?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
She became the librarian, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How long did she work for them: thirty or forty years?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, it must have been over thirty.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, that's wonderful.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
She went in first as an assistant, and then when they had trouble with the head librarian they made her head librarian. [Laughter] .2
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Back to your father for just a minute, since he came from such a long line or prominent North Carolinians. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
So did my mother. My mother was the one descended from Colonel James, but they were both descended from, I guess, Colonel James's grandfather.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he at all interested in going into North Carolina politics?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Who, my grandfather?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Your father?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
My father? No, my father [unknown] cared nothing about politics. My mother was always president of the Women's Club or the PTA, active in many things, but my father never was interested. But my father was fifteen years older than my mother; that made a big difference. When they came out

Page 9
to California it was really very difficult for my father to adjust, and difficult for him really to get the kind of work that he cared about. He had to take things that he didn't like and didn't care about. So for him I think it was a mistake, but for my mother it was probably a great opportunity.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Let me ask you a few things about your mother's life when she was small. You said that she was reared on her grandfather's plantation. Was she born there on that plantation, or nearby?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
She probably was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did she talk about what her life was like when she was small and when she was a child?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, sometimes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She was the only child on that plantation, wasn't she?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. There were black children, and she played with them. And then of course, as you know the families in those days were very close, and they'd go visiting a lot. There'd be a lot of anunts and uncles and cousins that would come. I guess it wasn't too lonely. But I think she was tutored by a very able cousin of hers. He was quite a gene alogist and historian. Then she did go off to I guess what they called the normal school in Washington to study to be a teacher, an elementary teacher.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In Washington in Beaufort County?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, in Beaufort County?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So she was trained to be a teacher there, and then finished her formal schooling there? Or did she go on?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did she ever teach? Did she ever work as a teacher?

Page 10
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I doubt it. I mean, I don't really remember. She married when I guess she must have been about twenty-one or something like that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember ever hearing how she met your father?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, my father used to tell me about going down to her grandfather's plantation when my mother was five years old, and seeing my mother then [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] So she was starred!
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
[Laughter] I think [unknown] his mother was her Sunday school teacher at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. And I guess his mother liked her and introduced her to my father; I don't know how else. But everybody in the town knew everybody.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But when your mother was five your father would have been twenty, right?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Something like that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] So he had to wait for her to grow up, literally.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I don't think he waited: I think he had other girlfriends [Laughter] . Anyway, he never married any of them. When my mother came along, why, they did of course get married.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He was quite old to be married for the first time.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes he was. And that's why in a way he always seemed . . . sort of more like a grandfather, I guess, to us than a father.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. You said that your mother was active in the Women's Club groups. I wondered if she ever was active at all or interested in politics, or how educated she was in it?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes. She was one of the first to vote for—as I remember, seems to me it was Woodrow Wilson. But I can remember when they got the

Page 11
vote, why she was very excited about it. She was a feminist, all for women's suffrage and women's rights. Oh yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Do you remember her actually campaigning for suffrage or working?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, she was a quiet type that didn't really get out the way I have gotten out [Laughter] and talked and campaigned. But in her groups she was effective. And as president of these different things, when she was active and in touch with people they always knew how she felt and what she thought.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was she active in North Carolina before you left there?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She was tied down at that time with really small children.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, yes. I guess she didn't belong to the Addisco Book Club, which was a sort of intellectual club of the town. But when my aunt Mary MacDonald would go up to Baltimore (she did quite often in the winter), then my mother would go to the Addisco Book Club [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This is the aunt who had raised your mother?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no, no, this was my father's aunt. My aunt who reared her died when I was a little girl; I don't remember her.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think that in Washington there were avenues for women? There were clubs and things?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were there opportunities for women to become involved?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Probably not for all women. These were very exclusive little groups in the book clubs. The Addisco was the old one and "the" club, but younger women coming along formed their own clubs. And they had some

Page 12
intellectual life. A lot of their life was around the church.
Most of my family were on both sides Episcopalian. Way back there were a number of Quakers that came from England to Rhode Island. One of them was an Anthony that Susan Anthony is descended from. Several others were French Huguenots. But the Episcopalians absorbed them all. And when you read the story back you can understand why, because the Quakers were denied the right to be citizens, because you had to take an oath of allegiance to the king and to the queen. And if you didn't do that you couldn't hold property or couldn't vote and so on. So maybe it was just true love, but anyway [Laughter] they seemed to have married Episcopalians and been absorbed by the Episcopalians, all of them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What effect do you think it had on your mother that her own mother had died so young? Do you think that had something to do with her concern for women or concern for women's rights in some way?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. I think that my mother, she was a very quiet, gentle but remarkable woman. And I think she would have been that in any circumstance. But there was certainly much more opportunity for her, I think, in Azusa than there would have been in Washington. That's why I say the move for her was good; but it was not a good move for my father because he was too old, really, to adjust and to get into anything at that stage.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. I wanted to talk in a minute about your move to California, which I find really fascinating. But I wanted to ask first what you remember about the years you spent in North Carolina as a child. You were thirteen, I believe you said, when you moved.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I remember all about it [Laughter] , practically. Those are vivid memories [Laughter] .

Page 13
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you always live in Washington in all of that time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Which house do you remember most growing up in? Did you live in one house?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
We lived in one house. It was remodeled. It was a smaller house, and as more children came [Laughter] they had to make it a bigger house. But it's still in Washington. It was remodeled again after we left. But the last time I was there (I can't remember how many years ago, maybe seven) I went all through the house.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And you were very close, you said, to your father's parents who lived not very far away?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes I was, and to all my. . . .See, I had great-aunts scattered all over the town, cousins all over the town. I'd walk from one end to the other and [Laughter] see so many of my relatives.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was it a very small town at that time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, it was small.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did your family have servants working in the house?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, we always had. We had a cook and usually a nurse when the children were small—sometimes even an [Laughter] assistant nurse. And there was a white man, I remember, who used to—we had a great big place, and we had a pony and a phaeton—come and take care of the pony and the phaeton and the yard.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Phaeton?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It was a little two-seated buggy. And every afternoon that was pretty my mother used to take us out into the woods; in those days it was safe, and Washington was surrounded by pine woods. And we'd go out into

Page 14
these pine woods and pick wildflowers. The children just loved it. So that from the time I. . . .I can't remember when I didn't love nature and feel a part of nature, because we were a part of it [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that when your mother grew up on this plantation she had played with the children of the black people on the plantation.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, I'm sure she must have, because those were the children that were there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you have the same sorts of relationships with black children in Washington?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever have any contact with children of the . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . people who worked in your house?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember any very close relationships with blacks?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, but it was not with black children.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But with adults?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
But with the adults, because these great-aunts of mine had these marvelous cooks that they'd had for ages. We'd call them Aunt: Aunt Julia, Aunt Lettuce. But those were the old ones. The younger ones, like the cook we had, we just called them Molly. We had a good relationship, but it was a servant. . . .It was no feeling then of any kind of equality.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think that that situation has shaped any of your later feelings about race in the South, or about race relations?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, of course it was very difficult for me, because also the Civil War and the South. When I came out here, I remember the first time,

Page 15
for instance, they were singing "Marching Through Georgia." Well, to me that was the most terrible thing in the world, because Sherman had burned so much of Georgia, burned our town. When I was little I was brought up as a child of the Confederacy. So it was very, very difficult for me, and my whole world was just simply turned upside down topsy-turvy. I remember the first time in high school there were some black students (not many, just maybe two or something like that) that were athletes. And I remember . . . I mean, it was a little hard getting used to it, the equality that you had in the classrooms. But certainly I had [unknown] . . . certainly absorbed these prejudices and customs of the group in which I grew up. But they were of course broken down decidedly, and I have had many very fine black friends.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did the whole process of breaking down those prejudices . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It was very painful for a child.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did it go on for a long period of time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well yes, in a way, because I didn't really have too much contact there. There were only these two boys, as I remember, that were in school, so there was really very little contact. Then when I went up to Berkeley there really wasn't much contact. It was really, I guess, after I came back from Bryn Mawr and the last time when I began to have more association as I went into different groups and joined in things. I had been very active in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, which was founded by Jane Addams in 1915. But I went out in these different areas and met black people on an equal plane and of course came to know them as people, why there was no problem then. It just simply melted away; it didn't mean anything.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about your parents? Did they have the same sort of, go through

Page 16
the same sort of process?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. I don't think it ever completely broke down with them. Not with my father; but with my mother, she was such a warm, human person that to her a person was a person [Laughter] , you know. But as far as I was concerned, I remember here when I was choosing the board for the—I was going to be president of the Parent-Teacher's in the school where my son went. And we had only one Negro family. It just happened that they were very unusual people: Loren Miller, who became a leader in the civil rights movement out here, was a lawyer (I had known him before), and his wife Juanita, who was a very active social worker. And one of the women that was going to be on the board came to me and said, "Well, I don't know why you have to have Mrs. Miller on the board"—meaning because she was black—"there's only one black child in the school." And I said, "Well, I'm not doing this on the basis of the quota system. I asked her to be chairman of legislation because she's the most capable one there." I said, "She knows more about it than any of the others" [Laughter] . She didn't like that one bit. So this prejudice is certainly not confined to North Carolina or the South.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Certainly. Did you ever notice anything different about your parents' attitude toward servants or toward even poorer white people in the town of Washington when you were little than other townspeople?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes. It was quite a hierarchy. There were the aristocrats (those of us who went back for generations in the area) and what they used to call—let me see, what did they call them?—plain but nice people, or something like that, or the common people or something. And then, of course, at the bottom of the lot were the blacks. There was quite a hierarchy when

Page 17
I was a child; I imagine there still is.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about a hierarchy within different kinds of churches? You said that your family belonged to the Episcopal church. How did you view Methodists or Baptists?3
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, there was. Oh yes, that too. The only other one that really rated equal, I think, to the Episcopal church was the Presbyterian, and I had some relatives in the Presbyterian too. But yes, they tended to think that they were very nice people but rather ordinary.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did your mother ever break out of that or try to deal with that in a different way?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no. She was more occupied really with her family and really didn't.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about your companions when you were a child? You said that there were cousins and all sorts of relatives around. What about all these brothers and sisters? Were you close to them?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Not very. I was older, and I was very active. They sort of stayed home, the little ones, with my mother and the nurses, and I was covering the waterfront, the town.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you do that by yourself?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh no, oh no, I had cousins who wandered with me, and the rector's daughter, when it was very proper. She never went into some of these excursions [Laughter] ; I was always going to see what was going on everywhere, I guess. But I always had plenty of friends that went with me who had curiosity such as mine.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did all of your brothers and sisters stay in California when your family moved out here, or have they scattered across the country?

Page 18
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
You mean are they all here now?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, they're all here now. I was, again, the only wanderer.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The only one who ever went back east?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, and lived and stayed back there for a long time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was going to ask you if you were closer to one parent than the other. You were obviously much [Laughter] closer to your mother.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Much closer to my mother, oh yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did she really serve as a model for your behavior to you? Did you want to be like her?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, because I was much more like my father in temperament, I'm sure, than my mother. I was much more the adventurer and the wanderer. In his early days when he wandered, when he went off in the boats, that was really what he liked. That was the mistake he made, marrying and getting tied down [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was going to say, did he always kind of seem to have that wanderlust after that?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think it was taken out of him.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He had too many responsibilities [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, I think it was taken out of him. And, by then—don't forget, he was fifteen years older than my mother, and by then he was getting kind of old anyway. But he had such a zest for life and insatiable curiosity and interest in people and so on, that I have really much more than my mother. My mother is a much more balanced, sane, reasonable type of person [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you have contact with your father? I mean, did he read to you or did he tell you stories?

Page 19
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
My main contact that I remember was going down and getting money [Laughter] from him. We had a place in Washington that was very popular and run by a little old lady named Miss Molly Vines. She not only had this little gift shop that had all these things in it that were fascinating to us (we children were probably terrible nuisances to her; she probably thought we were going to break all the china), but she also had as a side she had a freezer of homemade ice cream, chocolate ice cream. And I remember my father mostly going down and getting, I think it was a nickel a dish [Laughter] , getting a nickel for some ice cream from Miss Molly Vines. But otherwise I remember, for instance, an incident like this with my father. There was a little house owned by a lady (she probably was young, but to me she seemed like an old lady) Miss Mary Prime, and then our house. And here was this big Episcopal church yard where some of my ancestors had been buried, and people had been buried for a long, long time, this big churchyard. Well, in the day I liked it, because it had trees and flowers. It was like a park almost, you know, except for the tombstones. And I was interested in those too [Laughter] because so many of them were people that I had heard about or ancestors, you know, or relatives. So that never had any fear for me in the daytime. But at night we were always afraid. And the bedroom that my sister and I had, a big bedroom, overlooked the churchyard [Laughter] . I remember there was one young black nurse that we had, named Geneva, and she used to tell us these tales about the ghosts. And oh, she'd take them on; I'd never seen a better actress. And finally my father said, you know, no more of these tales. There's nobody there, nobody in there; there's nothing to be afraid of. And I remember he took my brother by one hand and took me by the other and insisted on taking us all through that graveyard and showing

Page 20
us there was nothing in it [Laughter] , there wasn't any such thing as ghosts. I didn't appreciate that, but perhaps that was good treatment [Laughter] . I don't know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You didn't appreciate it because you were afraid?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes. Then my father also used to take us when they used to have things like the old fiddlers' convention; I can remember that. And he loved music, so we always were taken (my brother and I, just the two older ones) to the old fiddlers' convention. And I loved music too. And then whenever the circus came to town (he loved the circus and so did we) he'd always take us up to the circus.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was the fiddlers' convention like in Washington, N.C.?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, there were these men that came from all kinds of surrounding places, I guess, and played the violin. That's all I remember vaguely, you know, about all this.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Would there be a crowd of people who would come?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, I'm sure. But my father, as I said, was the one that would always take us out to anything that was exciting [Laughter] . But my mother took us every pretty afternoon; every afternoon we'd go out, out into the pine woods.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that the pine woods were safe back then.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. I don't remember ever being afraid.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I wondered if you ever heard anything about trouble between blacks and whites, any kind of rumors of lynching or rumors of . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well no. There's something in my mind, but I don't know how correct it is, how true it is. But it seems to me that once there was something about one of the doctors, white doctor who had his driver that I think

Page 21
was black who put some poison in something, and that he was lynched, as I remember. I sort of remember that one time when we were coming back, instead of taking the usual route that my mother took from the woods she went a different way. And I asked her why. I don't think she told me, but I think I asked until I found out. Somebody told me that; now whether that was true or not I don't know. You know, sometimes when I think about these many things that I have a vague memory about, I'd really like to know whether they're true or not true; I don't know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you have any idea how old you might have been at that time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, probably maybe six or seven.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about other things that were sort of that children were not supposed to be aware of or to know about? What about being told about sex or being told about . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, very strict, and my mother too. She never talked about that. She gave me when I was getting to the point that I should "What Every Girl Should Know" or some such thing as that to read [Laughter] . That was about it. But I remember when I was quite little once one of the girls told me that "Your mother's going to have a baby." Well, I think I was kind of fed up on babies by that time, and I said, "Well how do you know?" And she said, "Look at her stomach; she has a big stomach." Well, that really intrigued me. And I remember we went over to my great-aunt's (this was an aunt of my mother who was very strict) and we were whispering, you know. Aunt Lizzie said, "Well, what are you children whispering about?" And I said, "About where babies come from." And she sent me home, as if it was. . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
So my mother told me yes, she was going to have another baby. And then she showed

Page 22
me some things she was making (she was a very good seamstress and she could make just beautiful things: you know, in those days embroider and feather-stitch and all these things). So I was never domestic and I never cared a thing about sewing. But I remember she gave me a little piece of cloth and (I never cared about dolls either) I made [Laughter] (probably the only thing I ever made for a doll in all my life) a little sacque to look like the one that she was making.
But sex was taboo, yes. But every now and then you'd hear something, the children would hear something and then they'd talk with each other. Not so much brothers and sisters—I don't remember ever talking to them about any of this—but with others your own age.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But always sort of in complete ignorance and always curious.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes. And always the feeling that there was something really shameful about it. I remember there was a case of a girl that I knew and cared a great deal about whose mother had become pregnant before she was married. Then later she had married the man, but people would still talk about things, you know, in sort of whispers. And somebody said one day about "that baby," "It was a good thing that baby died." I remember asking, "How would that baby be different from any of the other [Laughter] babies these two people have had?"—as if it were the baby's fault, you know, or something wicked. But their attitude was not the attitude we have today of free and open discussion.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think that the fact that people were so close to the church had a lot to do with that? Or was the church an important part of your life?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, the church was a very important part of the life. When you went into Lent, like now, you had a little mite box. You saved money for

Page 23
your mite box. And Good Friday, you know, you went through all the story of the Crucifixion. And then when Sunday came, that was a big day though. You got a new dress, new hat, new shoes. We marched around the church, and that was very, very significant.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about within your own family? Did you have family prayers? Was your father a religious man?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, he wasn't unless he got sick; then he'd suddenly become quite religious. Then he'd forgive people that he hadn't [Laughter] been very nice to, and ask them to forgive him.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Did he go to church, do you know, with the family?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very seldom. But he insisted on our going, of course.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And your mother went?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Not too often because of the children, the babies.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was that acceptable, for parents to stay home and to just send your children?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, in our case my grandparents were pillars of the church and their families had been pillars of the church since it was founded (in fact they were among the founders), so we were certainly accepted.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was your father sort of different from the rest of his family? Did he stand out as being unusual?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, yes, yes he did.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did they regard him?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
As a character, I think [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Friendly toleration? [Laughter]
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very, very friendly character. In fact, my father was a very good mimic. In the course of his travels seeing so many people, he could

Page 24
tell marvelous stories and take off people, so that he was usually the life of the party [Laughter] . People liked him. My mother was much more quiet; you had to know her to really care about and appreciate her. But I don't know what this has to do with the Southern Summer School.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, well. . . .[Interruption] I wanted to ask you about the schools that you went to. You said that you attended St. Peter's Episcopal church school until you were around. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, not at school. It was the infant class. From the time I could toddle I was sent into the infant class and so on. But that of course was religious education.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, it wasn't a school?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no, that was the religious education. But that was very important in our lives. Also the fact that I think every Saturday afternoon we had to go into the room that was the vestry room. I'd sit on this bunk that held the vestments, and we had to [Laughter] sew these pieces of cloth for quilts for the orphans. I used to get so sick of the orphans [Laughter] ,I remember, because I wanted to go out and play. I didn't want to sit there sewing; I hated to sew anyway, and sit still that long.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever meet any of the orphans you were covering up? [Laughter]
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh no, no, they were out in Thomasville or someplace, you know. We never saw them. If we'd known them or anything about them we would have felt differently. But it wasn't like a person; we never saw. We just had to sew all these little pieces [Laughter] together.
But that was very much a part of our life. And my father had an idea that no child should be confined in a school, have to go to a school until he was eight years old. So I didn't go until I was eight, and then I went

Page 25
to this private school that was run by a maiden lady who was a very good friend of my great-aunt's and had even taught my father when he was a boy.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh my goodness!
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Miss Betty Robinson. And it was held in the Masonic Hall, so that was always very interesting. We always wanted to see if we couldn't find the goat and all these other things we'd heard about with the Masons. (We never did.) Oh yes, it was a small. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was your father a Mason?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, but my grandfather was. My father didn't like to join anything;/as I think about it, I don't know of his joining anything.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Interesting.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
He was a strong individualist.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever go to any public schools in North Carolina?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, after this private school. And there was a young woman there who taught the young children the reading, I remember. Miss Betty used to have a spelling bee, I think it was every Friday afternoon or something. And all the children in the school stood up to spell, including the big ones. My aunt who was six years older than I was in the big one, and she still laughs about it, because I used to be the champion speller. I'd spell them all down [Laughter] .
Anyway, then I went, I insisted on going to the public school, because I thought it would be more interesting: so many more people there, bigger, more exciting. And I think it was probably in the sixth grade that I went into the public school.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did a lot of your friends in town go to the public school?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, quite a number of them, yes.

Page 26
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did your parents have any feeling about not sending you there, or did they readily agree to send you?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. I don't think it was that so much as the fact that Papa had gone to Miss Betty, Mary my aunt went to Miss Betty, everybody went to Miss Betty in my little set. So I just went to Miss Betty [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Was the public school bigger and more exciting and more interesting?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, yes, of course. It not only had the small group of children that I was used to, but it had all these I'd never heard of [Laughter] . One of them was a fascinating one that I used to (lived up in the north end of town) go up to see her a lot. I remember we used to climb trees. I can still remember her name; her name was Neppie Arthur.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did all of the children in Washington go to one public school—all the white children anyway?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So you met children who were not as well off as your parents?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I met children from all the different gradations of the hierachy. Of course they wouldn't like to hear it called a hierarchy, but in a way it was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the teachers? Where did they come from? Do you remember any of them?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. One of them, I remember, she married somebody, I think, in the town, one of the old families. But the others were people I really don't know. I remember one of them, her name was Betty too; I don't remember her last name. That was the first one I had. I met her on the street after I had gone back sometime. Oh Lewis, I think her name was Betty Lewis.

Page 27
Somebody said, "Do you remember her? This is Miriam Bonner. Do you remember her?" "Oh yes," she said, "such a good speller!" [Laughter] It seemed to be my one reputation: such a good speller! And my son is a very poor speller [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] You had a reputation. You said that when you were thirteen (which must have been in around 1909) . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It was 1909.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . your family decided to move to California. I wondered how that decision was made and why your father decided (or your mother and father decided) to go.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I think one reason was that I had an uncle, my father's brother that was out here. And he was always writing these glowing accounts.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Do you have any of those letters that he wrote?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No. And then we had been having a lot of sickness. In those days they didn't know, I guess, what caused malaria. Anyway, we had a lot of malaria. I can't remember just how old I was, but at one stage I had typhoid fever, and the doctor thought I was going to die. They sent to Norfolk for a trained nurse, and I had curls and he told her not to cut off—told her no, to leave the curls on, because he wanted my mother to remember me that way. So my mother chopped them off, you know. I was very, very ill, almost dying. And my sister Virginia almost died of dyptheria, and a number of these sisters and brothers that my father had had died. So he sort of felt, "Well, if it's so beautiful out there and so wonderful and everybody's so healthy we'll move out." So he just. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Had his parents died by that time?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, both parents had died.

Page 28
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
So it was easier to go.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, it was easier to go.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did he go with any specific job in mind, or did he go saying he'd find work?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
My uncle, my father had sent him the money for an orange grove. And we had this orange grove that was just across from the sign that said "Azusa City Limits," [Laughter] but it was considerably out of town. My father, of course, knew nothing about growing oranges, and he had bad luck. There was a freeze, I think, one year and a flood. So he was thoroughly disgusted with growing oranges and sold the ranch, and we moved into Azusa.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Then what did he do after that?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, he had various jobs in engineering. He was really a marine engineer, but he was a fine mechanic.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did he ever go back to working on the ships?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
When you moved, how did you get out here?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Took a train, the train.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
You remember the trip?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh yes!
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did it take a long, long time?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I remember the first time I saw a mountain. I was looking out of the window in my berth and I saw something coming up so close to the window, you know. I looked up and here was this great big mountain. I didn't realize I was going to be climbing mountains so much [Laughter] . I used to climb mountains so much all around here and up in Mono [unknown] County when we lived up there.

Page 29
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did your parents move a lot of furniture? Did they put it on the train?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, and most of it was wrecked. They trusted somebody (my father always trusted everybody) and trusted this man who said, you know, he'd pack it and everything would be fine. We got out here, a lot of it was broken.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did all of these aunts and uncles and cousins and everyone feel about your going?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, I think they were very . . . sick about it, very unhappy.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did they sort of . . . I don't know, did they try to keep your dad from going?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no, no.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did your mother feel about moving?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I think she thought it would be. . . . See, my uncle wrote these glowing letters, so they just thought. . . . Well, as a matter of fact we have been on the whole very healthy out here [Laughter] . But I think they've been healthy in North Carolina too. When I go back there my cousin who's my age and has lived in Washington all of her life and this rector's daughter who was my closest friend (well Dora's a little bit younger, but Rena, the rector's daughter is my age), [unknown] they're just as healthy as far as I can see as I am [Laughter] . So maybe it wouldn't have made any difference.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What was Los Angeles like when you were out here, Los Angeles County?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, it was beautiful: no smog, no smog. Azusa was the area where people came (Monrovia and Duarte, [unknown] very close to Azusa) where people

Page 30
came for their lungs from all over the world. There was this big Pottenger Sanitorium in Monrovia, and orange groves and lemon groves. It was just beautiful. You'd take the old Pacific Electric from Azusa into Los Angeles, and you'd go through all these orange groves, you know: beautiful. You can't imagine what it was like; everything's been cut down now, and all the real estate developers have put up little houses everywhere.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It just seems to me that that was so early. It must have been very exciting, like being a pioneer.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, it was so beautiful. I was with two people—well, in fact, they have in Azusa what they call Pioneer Days or something like that once a year. And my mother was always considered one of them and invited to [Laughter] ride in the carriage and so on, so I guess in a way we were.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Were there many families like you coming out, or did mainly single men come out?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no families came.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That just seems very unusual to me.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
There were some families that came, and mostly for health reasons. Most of the people I can think of came for their health.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did people think you were strange because you were from the South?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes. In fact, (and I really don't know that this is true) it was not easy for me because, as you can imagine, I was suddenly thrust from an environment of such security, such security: knowing everybody, and my world was, you know, so secure. And then out on the ranch there was a school on one corner of the ranch, but they didn't have the seventh and eighth grades. Now I really could have gone in high school at that point, because I had been having algebra and Latin, as I remember. But I was a

Page 31
little hesitant about it, this new situation, and so I thought, "Well, I'll go in the seventh grade." Picked it all up by myself while going to seventh grade [Laughter] . So I don't know, probably my uncle got permission for me to be going to the seventh grade. But when I came in one of the boys told me that the principal, who had both the seventh and eighth grades and the administration, naturally, I suppose, didn't want another pupil. He may have said this and he may not have said it, but anyway this boy (I still remember his name, a red-haired boy [Laughter] ) said the principal didn't want me because he said I was from the South and that I would be backward, and that it would be difficult for me to keep up [unknown] and I might have a lot of extra work to do. Now whether he did or he didn't, I don't know, but anyway . . . it was not very pleasant for me. As I say, I was just thirteen. And I had to come all by myself; I rode a bicycle from the ranch into town. And when there was a flood (as there used to be before the dams were built) I'd really have some problem getting across these channels, you know, full of water. Then this boy that I was telling you about, he used to stick his foot out almost every time I went down the aisle. I can remember one of the Hawks boys (I never could remember which it was, whether it was Kenneth, Howard or what Hawks), but one of the Hawks that later became famous in the movie industry used to take my braid [Laughter] and put it in his inkwell [Laughter] . And I'd get it all over my dress and have a nice mess when I got home to try to get that off.
But then gradually I made friends and made my place. Then the eighth grade, [unknown] by then they had put in the seventh and eighth grades out on this little Center school at the corner of the ranch. I had to go there because I was in that district to the eighth grade. I didn't want to, because I

Page 32
already had my friends here, but I had to. And there were some very rough girls there, I can remember. Their fathers were foremen on some of the ranches, and they really didn't like southerners; they were mean, really mean. So I was very glad when my father sold the ranch [Laughter] . We moved into Azusa and I was back with my friends.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did the schools in general compare to the schools you'd been to in North Carolina?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I really don't remember that. I mean, to me a lesson was a lesson. I really preferred it, I guess, in North Carolina because I knew people and it was more fun. But as I got adjusted out here it was all right. And then when I went to high school I had four years in the same high school. I had a very dear friend there that was really, I think of all the friends I've had (and I've had so many) was the closest to me. Then a lot of other friends too, and the life there was rich. I didn't remember that I'd ever sung in a glee club, but one of my friends showed me [Laughter] her old annual when I went up to visit my son [Laughter] in Oregon. There was a picture of me with her in the glee club. [Laughter] Well, that's one experience I had forgotten. I used to play tennis a lot; I was a good tennis player. I had a very rich, happy time.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What about teachers who particularly influenced you in high school?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I always had this affinity for the English teacher, for some reason. I remember I had quite a crush on the freshman English teacher. But that was nothing like the crush on the junior high school, the teacher in my junior year. She had this pale gold hair and she looked like, I always felt, Elaine in Tennyson's "Idylls" [Laughter] . And she somehow was very understanding and very kind. And she used to invite me over to her house for tea,

Page 33
and then after she was married she'd invite me to come to see her. And when the baby was born I went to see her and so on. I don't know why. But, you see, I've lived so many places, and I can't keep up with everybody; so some of the people I really care most about I haven't kept up with. But I'm sure she's dead by this time.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
But did she sort of . . . ?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Only strengthened my resolve. Then in the senior year they started a junior college, and my class would be the first for the junior college. So of course they wanted us with the basis for the junior college. No, I was going to Berkeley. I didn't know why; it was the university. I was going to Berkeley, and nothing they would say. . . . But practically all of my friends stayed, just all of them, and went to the junior college. And I went off to Berkeley by myself [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did your parents feel about that? Were they supportive?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well my father, I think, always thought, you know. . . . He never demurred about anything that I know of; I never heard him object to anything. And my mother was always a strong support; if there was something I wanted she'd do everything she could to help me get it.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Why do you think you wanted to go to Berkeley?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I don't know.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Had you heard about it?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was just the state university, I guess. Of course in those days Berkeley didn't mean what it's meant lately [Laughter] ; it simply was the state university. As far as I know I can't remember knowing anybody who even went there. Well, there was one girl, but I didn't like her anyway; I hardly knew her.

Page 34
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
But none of your teachers had been trained there?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Not those that I knew well. The one that was my idol in my junior year went to USC [Laughter] , and I never wanted to go to USC for some reason. The University: I was going to the University. So I went to the University.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Was there ever any question at all about there not being enough money to send you to college?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well no. I was going to work my way if necessary, and I did some of that in my freshman year. Then, I guess by my sophomore year, I was a reader in logic when I was taking logic, and I was a tutor in Latin, and I was a reader in English. When I graduated I taught English, taught freshman English.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What did the readers do?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They correct the papers and grade them.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I see, [Laughter] OK. What were your plans about what you would do in the future when you started to college? What did you see yourself doing?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When I was in high school I was very much interested in social service; thought I'd go into social work. And I read all the books of Jacob Riis about New York. Now I'd never been to New York and I didn't know anything about that type of life, but I just gobbled it up: everything Jacob Riis wrote, everything Jane Addams wrote. And when I graduated from high school and I was one of the speakers at the commencement, my subject was "Jane Addams and Hull House."
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That's very interesting.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And I thought then, until then I came into touch with Ben Lindsay,

Page 35
and then I thought the juvenile court. So I couldn't make up my mind: I thought I might be an English teacher, I thought I might be a social worker, and I thought I might go into juvenile court law (a number of my relatives in North Carolina were lawyers, and a lot of lawyers in my father's family). I thought I could be a lawyer—only juvenile court, no other kind of law. But then when I got to Berkeley I still wasn't sure in my junior year whether I would go into teaching or whether I would go into social work. And I always loved history. So I took enough history and enough social economics (my economics really, except for basic economics, is in the social economics field) so that I had a secondary certificate so that I could teach those subjects. But then I had decided when I had to make up my mind what would be my major, I had decided then on English, and wanted to teach.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Who first introduced you to social work? Who in Azusa was reading Jacob Riis and Jane Addams?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I don't think anybody else, but the books were in the library and I was gobbling them up.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
So you just found them?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was gobbling them up. I was all for reforming the world. And I don't know why I didn't. . . . I remember going over and talking to somebody about the juvenile court law and going to work with Ben Lindsay. But then I decided, I think, that that was too long and too expensive, and I think I gave it up for that reason as being not one of the feasible things to do.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you sort of rationalize teaching as being a way to reform? [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, I don't think so. I think that was just because I loved the

Page 36
subject, and I liked teaching in the tutoring I had done and so on. The teaching that I did, I found it very interesting, liked it.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
You entered Berkeley in 1915.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What was it like then? How many students were there?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I have no idea, but it was certainly relatively small. And it was the only state university, you see; all these others were started later. In fact, when I had graduated (in fact I had my masters, I guess) was when they started UCLA down here. And several of the people I knew in the English department and some of the other professors were very influential, and they suggested that I come and teach there. Well, that would have been a very practical thing to do. I would have been on the ground floor of UCLA and just simply worked my way up there. But nothing that practical, I guess, ever really held me very long [Laughter] . No sir, then I had to go to New York. Now why New York too and why Columbia? I didn't know anybody in Columbia, and I didn't know anybody in New York, but that was the next Mecca. And I had a fellowship that was given to me by the University of California, so off I went. The sensible thing to have done would have been to have gotten my doctorate at U.C., Berkeley and gone into UCLA teaching.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
To go back to Berkeley for just a minute, who were the teachers who influenced you most? Did you study under any people in particular?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I think probably the man in the English department did influence me most, the man named Benjamin Kurtz, K-u-r-t-z. Oh, there were others: Arthur Brodeur of the English department; Lucy Ward Stebbins, who was the Dean of Women and also teacher of economics.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How many women were at Berkeley then?

Page 37
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well not very many. That's another thing: when I was talking about going into university teaching I remember one of my professors (I don't remember now which one it was) said, "It'll be a long, hard struggle." He said, "They'll take a third-rate man anytime to a first-rate woman." And that was true at that stage; there weren't many women. Miss Stebbins was the Dean of Women and professor of economics. And Jessica Peixotto (I could work with her too) taught in economics. I was trying to think. I can't seem to remember anybody in English except those of us who had like teaching assistant jobs. I taught regular freshman English the year I got my masters, but I wouldn't have done that if it hadn't been, I think, a war situation.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
So they asked you to stay on because they needed teachers?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, I was getting my masters, so they asked me to take this freshman English class. But I can't remember women in the department, now that I think about it.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What about the students? Were there many women students like in the undergraduate. . . .?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, many. I remember when a friend of mine wrote to me about women coming to Chapel Hill. She said (Madge/Kennette), "You're so used to co-education. How do you work out these problems with the women and so on?" And I said, "Well, I don't know, because it was already worked out when I got here." It was all co-educational.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It was co-educational from the very beginning, wasn't it?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
As far as I know.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you live in a dorm with lots of other women?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The first year I lived in a private home. But in my second and

Page 38
third and fourth years I lived in . . . well, it was really like a cooperative. We had a housemother and a cook and a student to wait on tables. And we had our own officers and our student council, our house meetings once a week.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How many people lived there?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And we parcelled out the jobs and rotated things. It's funny, I don't know, but I think there must have been about twenty of us living in the house and probably about fifteen who belonged that lived on the campus—I mean, lived in other places.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It was sort of like a . . . ?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, it was a club. We called the the Mekatina Club.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Meccatina Club?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Mekatina. Then they went national, and I can't remember now what it was. And they asked all of us to join the national sorority. But by then I was in that part of my life that that was done [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Other than the Mekatina Club, what were the main student activities at Berkeley then? Were you involved in many?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Not much, not much. I really had to earn part of my way.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did you do that?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I tutored, and I told you I read papers.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In logic and English, and tutored in Latin. Taught in English, in the English department. So I was really much too busy for much that was extra. What extra I did usually was in connection with the house and the activities of the house.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Were there big debates about social or political issues? It was

Page 39
sort of right before the suffrage amendment was passed. Were the women students interested in suffrage?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, California got it very early, you see, and I think we already had it, as I can remember. I think we got it in 1916.4
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
So that would be right after you started to Berkeley.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, so that that again was no problem.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What about other political issues? About World War I?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Not much. There may have been, but I wasn't in contact with it. I knew people who went, I knew students who went into World War I.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Was there any move to oppose the war that you remember?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But I don't remember any, don't remember.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What about your political views?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It's funny. The wife of one of the professors asked me once to go to (and this is the first contact I ever had with any labor group) a meeting of the, I guess it was the Central Labor Council in San Francisco. It was some trade union group or labor group. That was not long after the Mooney and Billings bombing. There was an argument, I can remember: somebody got so angry there and went out of the room (wouldn't even stay any longer). And I often wonder what that was all about. I mean, I really didn't know anything about any of the labor movement [Laughter] at that time, and really didn't know very much when I went to the Southern Summer School because I had really never been exposed to it in any way.
I was teaching English, as you know, at the North Carolina College for Women, and Lois MacDonald was a YWCA secretary there. So when they needed somebody to teach English that summer she had recommended me, so they offered me the job. Now, I must have . . . I can't quite remember, because the YWCA

Page 40
was starting some classes out here for industrial workers.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
When you were in college?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, when I was teaching. After I left North Carolina, see, I left and went to Europe for a year. When I came back, when I was teaching at the Long Beach Junior College there was a YWCA secretary there who wanted me to do something that summer with some industrial workers' project here in California. And I got this letter asking me to come back to the Southern Summer School; and I felt that would be interesting and then back to North Carolina would be interesting, so I accepted that job. In looking through some of this I came across her letter [Laughter] telling me that she was sorry that I had decided not to take this one.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
So you never had any contact with the YWCA when you were at Berkeley?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No. Did I or didn't I? Not much, not really actively.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
They did have some sort of group on campus?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh yes, they had a YWCA there, and I knew people who were active in it. But I myself was not active in it. I belonged to the Episcopal church that was near the campus—I've even forgotten the name of that—at Berkeley.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I was going to ask if you continued being active in the church to a degree.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well yes, but not as much. You see what happened, when I came out here there was no Episcopal church in Azusa so I went to the Presbyterian church. So in a way I had broken the pattern, you see.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That strong tie that your family has had?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, very strong family tie. I hadn't broken it, it was broken for me; there was no Episcopal church in Azusa.

Page 41
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
When you left Berkeley in it must have been 1920. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, I had my masters by then. I went to Columbia; I had a fellowship from Berkeley.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Who did you study with at Columbia?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh goodness, that's so long ago I can't even remember.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No one in particular that you went to study with?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no. The one that really was the most interesting, I think, was Carl Van Doren in his American literature class, because I had never. . . . I had studied American history, but I had never studied American literature per se. Of course I'd always read a great deal, but I don't think I'd ever taken a course in it. And I took it with him. Then I'd really have to think hard: there was a number of them, but I can't. . . . There was a man named Wright who taught the course in romanticism, and Kraft, I think, taught philology. And the man who was head of the department, goodness, he even wrote a textbook that we studied in high school; I can't remember. [Thorndike]
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you think seriously at that time of going on for a PhD?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, I did.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What made you decide not to?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I went to teach down in North Carolina.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did you get that job? Who contacted you about that?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I can't remember exactly, but I think somebody told me that Dr. Foust was there recruiting teachers. I made an appointment with him; I guess I must have.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you decide at that time that you'd really like to go back to North Carolina?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, I guess I did. I think all my decisions have just never been

Page 42
really thought-out decisions at all. Whatever I do I seem to do as a rule just sort of on the spur of the moment. I heard he was there, I decided I'd do it; I went, I did it [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
[Laughter] When you were in New York City in 1920 that was a very exciting time in New York City. What were you involved in? Where did you live? Did you meet a lot of good friends?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I lived on the campus of Columbia in the graduate women's hall, Fernald Hall. Do you know it, Fernald Hall? I did have some very good friends there. One very good friend that I had known all the way through the University of California was there, a Jewish girl that I was very fond of, a brilliant girl. Then I met some others in the hall where I lived. But I really was very busy with my courses. Though I went out a lot to opera, concerts, the theater; and we used to go roaming around New York all the time when we had a holiday or like a Saturday. And we did go down into the ghetto area, and took a trip over to Ellis Island and all that sort of thing. The Henry Street Settlement, we used to go there.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Just to visit?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Just to visit.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you ever meet any of the people who were involved in settlement work then? Your old interest in Lindsay and Jacob Riis, was that revived at all?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no. Well, it was always there; it was always dormant anyway. But at that time I was so busy with these courses that I really was quite immersed in the library with the courses. And then when I wasn't, then it was more or less the theater. . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE BA]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

Page 43
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
. . . contact with any of the people who were in the YWCA in New York at that time?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Then for the next five years, from 1921 to '26. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I taught in North Carolina.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
In North Carolina. What was the atmosphere at North Carolina College for Women in the early twenties? It seems that it would be quite a contrast from the experience you had had at Berkeley.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, it probably was, but I don't know. I really went there thinking I'd stay at the most two years, and I was so happy there I stayed five. And I never would have broken loose if I hadn't just up and, again, up and did it, because I would have done like practically everybody else I knew, stayed on there and retired and lived there the rest of my life.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Right. What did you like about it so much? What was so attractive?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, it's hard to say. I liked the students—very interesting contacts. And there was a freedom about it; now perhaps there wouldn't have been freedom if we'd gone into any controversial thing, but I wasn't interested in the controversial things at that point espectially. We didn't have so much to teach that you couldn't teach. You had time to read, to study, to prepare, to have your class leisurely in an atmosphere without pressure; conferences with the students, individual conferences that you came to know them and came to be very fond of most of them, almost as if they were your family. And some of the teachers I cared a great deal about.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Who were your closest friends on the faculty?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
A woman named Mildred Gould—funny, she was a Georgian educated at Columbia.

Page 44
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you meet her at Columbia?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no, I met her at NCCW. Ann Ketchin, who was a South Carolinian, educated at Columbia; Louise Irby, who was from Tennessee. It's so funny, often I think of that, the gravitation sort of towards the southern people. Elva Barrow, who was a Virginian: really, my closest friends there were southerners.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Were there a lot of people there who weren't southerners?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh yes; and I knew them, and a few of them were really, you know, friends from the middle West. But my closest friends were these southern women, when I stop to think about it.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Were there many men on the faculty there?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
A few, not very many.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Were you close to any of them?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, not really. There were some marriages. There was a man there—funny I can't remember his name—who was in the history department. He married Carolina Hazen, who was in the history department. And there was a man there named Frederick Morrison; I think he was in education. Oh, there were men. Most of them were married, but there were a few single men. But for the most part the single women didn't go out with the single men [Laughter] —I mean, they had their friends elsewhere and we had ours elsewhere. I really had very little, not much contact with the town. I had a cousin who lived in Greensboro, very much of proper society, a Presbyterian and very, very proper: a beautiful home, beautiful food. And I used to go there every now and then for Sunday dinner. But otherwise there was very little contact with the town.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Just sort of this nice group of people around on the campus?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes. Almost like a nunnery life in a way. And it was very

Page 45
comfortable and very pleasant.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Were most of the students satisfied and happy with it?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I really don't know. I made a few friends. There was one student that I still correspond with, and several others that I correspond with occasionally. But this one I correspond with regularly. And most of the women that I cared about, my friends, have died; in fact all of them are dead, I think.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
The student you still correspond with, is she still in North Carolina?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, she lives in Washington, D.C. She was a journalist. I guess her husband was a journalist, though I never met him. He's been dead too for some time. And there are several other students that write to me occasionally, and maybe I'll write them back once. But I just don't have time. And I have such a large correspondence—I have a large family—that I just don't have time for a lot of them.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That's exciting, though, that they still write to you after such a long time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well it is, it's marvelous; it is marvelous.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Most of the students who were there, what were they interested in? What did they want to do?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, at that time really there wasn't too much for women except teaching.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Right. Were most of them planning to be teachers?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I suppose a lot of them were. Some of them weren't planning, as far as I know, to be anything [Laughter] . They just hoped to get married and have families. Maybe they did; probably they did.

Page 46
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Was it easy to get married coming to a women's school like that? I mean, was there an active social life?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, I don't think there was too much, not on the campus. They would have it when they went home, I suppose.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What were the most important organizations for students?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They had two societies, and you sort of automatically fell into one or the other. I can't remember which one I fell into. And they had an initiation ceremony or something like that; they really didn't mean very much.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Was the YWCA active?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, there was an active YWCA on the campus.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What kinds of things did they do?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, you'd have to ask Lois that [Laughter] because I don't know.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you have any contact with the "Y"? I mean, were you involved or an advisor at all?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did you meet Lois MacDonald then? Were you very close friends?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no, but we knew each other—everybody knew each other [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What was her particular position?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, she was secretary of the YWCA on the campus.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I mean, did you know anything about the work she was doing?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Not much.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
How did you finally leave? In 1926 you left?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Again, it was just a case of resigning and going to Europe.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, there was one other person I wanted to ask you about. Did you know Harriet Elliott?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh yes, I knew Aunt Hit.

Page 47
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Aunt Hit? [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's what, I guess, her nephews called her; they used to call her Aunt Hit.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What was she like? I've heard her name so many times.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Always busy and bubbling, always busy. She'd come in and she'd ask you about something; then she'd look at her watch and, "Oh, well I have to go." Off she'd jump, off she'd go. She wasn't the restful type that you could have a conversation with.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
[Laughter] Did she have a close relationship with a lot of the students who were there?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, yes, with a lot of the students. And then she was active more in the political life. She was quite good friends, I think, of Laura Cone of the Cone mills. And there was a very prominent Jewish woman who was one of the leaders in the political life there, and she was very good friends with them. She used to play golf with them.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What were her politics?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I guess Democratic; I think it was in Roosevelt's administration she got some very prominent job such as no woman had ever had before.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. But she was always very much within the proper lines of political activity for women. I mean, she was interested in reform or in improving industrial conditions?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes. No, she didn't go into the labor angle, I think, at all. She had come from Illinois, I think a mining town—Carbondale, it seems to me—but I don't think there was any of the interest. I never saw any. In fact, I can't think of anybody there that showed any interest in the working class or the labor movement.

Page 48
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What about interracial work?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Can't remember anybody ever knowing there was such a thing.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh really? Even in the YWCA you never heard of that?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, you see, I wasn't. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, but I just wondered if you ever heard about anything that they were doing.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No. I mean, Lois would have to tell you that, because I really don't know. I don't know. I was almost wholly interested, I think, in my students and the work with them. And it was a confining sort of thing; I mean, you were on the campus. You were free to go to town and so on, but I never took any part in any of the activities.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Were students free to sort of come and go as they pleased?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
As far as I know. I think in the dormitories they had a certain hour that they were supposed to be in.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
But it was pretty open? It wasn't terribly restricted?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, I don't think it was.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
When you left in 1926, how did you plan to go to Europe? How did that trip come up? Were you offered a fellowship?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, no. I had to take all the money I had to go on it.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Did you go with someone else?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, I went alone. But a friend of mine and her husband were in England; in fact, they met me at Plymouth. And they had rented a car, and I went with them all through Cornwall and Devonshire and Oxfordshire and Worcestershire and Cambridgeshire. And then we took the car and went over to Normandy and Brittany. This friend I had known in California. I didn't really know her too well. She was a character too, and she was older than I

Page 49
and much more sophisticated, much more. And she was fairly wealthy. And I had met her up in Berkeley, where she had a brief period between husbands. Then later when she had married the second or third and went to her home in Catalina in the summer, I went over and spent a week with her. Then I guess I had done that for another summer, probably spent a week with her.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
What was her name?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Goodness, which of her names?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, she married [Laughter] ; it doesn't matter.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Anyway, she loved to walk, and she was really quite literary. And she liked me because I liked to walk and I would talk with her about literature or anything that came up that was interesting. And by then she had married, I guess it was the third husband, and he was lame. So she really had, I think. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That was a mistake if she wanted to walk [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
. . . Wanted me to come because I'd walk with her. So we left him usually around the hotel or boarding house or wherever we were, and she and I would walk all over the whole countryside, all over the territory. We walked all over, I guess, Cornwall, Land's End, and then later all over everything, just the two of us. And we had a marvelous time. Then I went with them all through Brittany and Normandy, and then we went into Paris together. But in Paris I had a very good friend, (I had several friends, but one very close friend) who was studying the violin there. And her younger sister had been my closest friend all through high school, and then she had died of tuberculosis. So I suppose in a way it was because May was going and because Edith was there and so on. I spent the winter in Paris, but as soon as it began to get a little towards spring I went on all by myself

Page 50
down to southern France. Then I really travelled alone all through Italy and all through Switzerland, Holland and Belgium and everyplace [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you travel? By train most of the time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Most of the time train; occasionally boat, but most of the time train.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was it common for a young woman to take off by herself?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, I don't think it was; it wasn't so common. I still remember these two middle-aged English women in Rome in the little pension where I was staying. I was going down to Naples, and one woman said, "Oh, I think you're so brave to go to Naples all by yourself and travel alone as you do." And the other one said, "Hmm, you can call her brave, but I call it foolhardiness." [Laughter] I always remember that. There were times when I thought maybe she was right, plenty of times. But it was a wonderful experience.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Did you have any trouble?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, not really; not really. I mean, whatever I had I always got out of [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, I bet it was an incredible experience.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, it was, marvelous.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you study at any schools?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, except in Paris I was studying French down at the Alliance Francaise.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Then when you came back home you decided to come back to California.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were gone for a year; this was in 1927?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. And then I taught English at the Long Beach Junior College,

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Long Beach California Junior College.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. How did you get that job?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Through the University of California. And that was a time when there were so few jobs and the Depression was coming on; I think if I had really known about the Depression [Laughter] as much as I knew later I never would have gone. But just like that Louise was going with Holly to Europe, and just like that I decided I'd borrow money and take what I had and go with her, because Louise said she couldn't go.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was in 1930, three years later.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That was '29 and '30. So we went to Europe. And I learned, that's where I really began learning things, because I was in Vienna and I was in Germany. And I saw the coming of the Fascist movement, really, in Germany. And I was scared as hell.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Had you gone to Germany before, when you'd been there before? Did you travel in Germany?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no, no.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was it like? Why were you so . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, there was a lot of unemployment, a lot of poverty and a lot of. . . . I was in touch, see I was studying by then the worker schools, the labor movement, and I was in touch with some people who really saw the Fascists were coming. I think World War I had been a terrific. . . . It had a terrific impact on me, because though I didn't really lose anybody in it, if I had been a man I would have been in that war, you know. And my fear of war, and I think almost obsession with war, goes back to my childhood, to the Civil War. From the time I was born all I heard about was the terrible things that the war had done. And so this idea of . . . this Fascism and

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another was I think was just so horrible to me. I mean, that's really when I started to learn what the world was really like [Laughter] , I guess. But as horrible as we thought it would be, it turned out to be so much worse than we could ever have imagined: six million Jews killed, I mean the terror of it, the horror of it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you went into Germany in 1929 and '30 things were still open, weren't they? I mean, Hitler was just, just beginning to come to power.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Just beginning, just beginning. But I was there at the time that Bruning had what he called, as I remember, the Republik Schutz Gesetz, this law for the defense of the republic, which really was giving dictatorial powers to the government. And dictatorial powers were not going to solve the problems of the unemployment and the hunger that we saw.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you were in Vienna. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
The Socialists were in power.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. I read an article that you wrote about that.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Where did you get that?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was in the little News, the News that the Southern Summer School published.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh really?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I don't even have that. Hmm.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It seemed very optimistic about the Social Democrats, about the programs they were doing but not optimistic about them being able to stay in power.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That's right, and I was right. And I was right. We used to take a bus—I mean a train, I guess, or a subway. Holly and I were staying in a

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little apartment out in the Grinzing area, the area where Beethoven used to live. I walked there on this Beethoven's walk, part of the WeinerWald. But there was an apartment house there called the Karl Marx House which you saw when you got off the subway, and I think they said a thousand families lived in it. And when the Fascists seized power in Vienna that place was just machine gunned, just destroyed. And Vienna was an architect's dream; these housing projects were done by architects, and just beautiful and different. Somewhere (I don't know where) I used to have a book with all these different houses, building projects, libraries and kinder-gartens. They were all destroyed, you see.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You went with Hollace Ransdell, and she had, I guess, made the original plans for the trip herself?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. She was going with Louise.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why had she planned to go?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, her main interest, I think, then was Vienna; she wanted to see what was going on in Vienna. And she'd never been to Europe; she wanted to go to Europe. I'm sure she hadn't been to Europe at that time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why couldn't Louise go at the last minute?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I've forgotten; I've forgotten why. Maybe it was because she was going to marry Mac or something. Anyway she didn't go; she couldn't go.
And just like that I decided I'd go with her.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did Holly go— one thing I was interested in — to study specific workers' education programs?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, we both did. We both studied the workers' education movement.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But that was definitely part of the plan, to see how workers'

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education programs were handled in other countries?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, yes, yes, right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was Hollace Ransdell like?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, she was a charming person, very bright—very bright. That was a long time ago.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I got the feeling from talking to her that at one time she was very optimistic about politics in this country changing dramatically. She was really sort of interested in basic social change, in a major social change more, perhaps, than a lot of the women who were involved in the school. Was that true?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Perhaps. I really, you know, had never known her before she came to Southern Summer School. And I think she was probably more conscious of the basic roots than the rest of us were. She lived in New York, and I think perhaps in New York she had contacts with maybe more sophisticated people than some of us had had.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What did you find when you compared different workers' education programs. You were not only in Vienna but in England.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, we started out in London, yes. Well, really what we found, I think, basically, were that they were really (most of them) tied up with political movements very definitely. In England the workers' education—I don't remember the different names even anymore, but there was one group that was supported more or less by the trade union and by the Labor party, I guess. And that was an attempt to really make the workers articulate and conscious of their needs and their need to organize in trade unions, political groups, cooperatives and so on. And that was a group that was primarily, I would say, perhaps more like the Liberal party is now and the trade unions.

Page 55
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Had they set up the London Labor College then?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I guess so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was a college that was closed in '28, right before you got there, which had been operating.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I don't remember these details. But then there was another group, and that group was much smaller and more radical. They were really to the left of this group. That group was more like the Social Democratic group; the other were a little more like the left Socialists. And then of course there was the Communist group. We didn't really see or hear of or have any contact with any of the Communist groups.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did those groups talk about each other?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, [Laughter] they didn't like each other. They were very critical of each other; they were all very critical. That was more or less true wherever we went. Of course as far as the Vienna situation was concerned, the Socialists were in control, seemingly. It was a facade; they weren't in control at all, but seemingly they were. They had the votes, I mean, Democratic votes, but the wealth was in somebody else's hand. So that actually there I don't think I met anybody who wasn't—I mean I met people who were critical of it and who didn't think it would last, but who were not setting up schools or classes that were different. But they did have certain, I guess almost certain theatrical groups where they acted out in the theater some of the problems that were perhaps a little more basic and perhaps more critical. But mostly it was a going concern; it was a big success.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You wrote about the difference between the Christian Socialists and the Social Democrats in Vienna, and the sort of struggle between those groups, and I think mentioned at one time that they set up different schools.

Page 56
And some wouldn't attend. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, they probably did. I've forgotten. I mean, the basic thing there was the power of the Social Democrats. But there were these undoubted opposition groups. It was just that, as far as I can remember, I didn't have contact with them. But then when I got to Germany Holly and I went out to a school in Leipzig; it was not in Leipzig, it was out of Leipzig. And it was in kind of an old mansion. But these were workers, and mostly, I guess, people unemployed who didn't seem to have much. And it was cold; I don't think they had any heat. And as I remember when we ate it was like one great big dish of soup [Laughter] or something like that. But the man who had that was a very interesting man. He was blind, but he had students read to him. And he was really the one who told me first about the coming of this power that would strangle all these things. I think they had money from the, it seems to me it was Thuringia, [unknown] provincial goverment. But this man who was there wouldn't let them have it. And if I remember, I think that was the man that first hired Hitler and gave him status of a German citizen; I can't remember anymore. But anyway, he was very well aware of the attempt that would be made to strangle all this, and I found him a very interesting person. We were there not too many hours, not too long.
Then when we got to Berlin, there again, as I say, there was this Republik Schutz Gesetz. And there were workers that would come out demonstrating in the Potsdamerplatz. They would just be moved on. These policemen on horseback, they'd come and they'd just, you know, [unknown] with those billyclubs, hitting people on the heads and everything.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you actually frightened there? Were you frightened?

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I was once, in a demonstration. I happened to be at a certain place [Laughter] at a certain time where there was a demonstration where the police were breaking it up, and I was a little afraid they might think I was part of the demonstration. I thought they might take my passport.
But they had classes there in the workers group. They were fighting for control of the workers' minds, of course. There were some classes that were conducted by these Nazis, evening classes, classes for workers. And the Communists had their classes. And there were very interesting things going on in the theater [unknown] that were radical. One of them, I remember, was against the abortion law. I think of it so often here, because I remember that play so well, [unknown]. Then of course mostly there there were these workers of the Social Democratic type, and labor unions. Some of those labor unions had schools, had buildings and schools that were just beautiful where the students really had all kinds of facilities, and where they'd go for weekends or a summer. And they were taught parliamentary law—a lot of good that was going to do them—and how to conduct meetings, and how to keep books and so on, as well as how to make speeches, how to write reports, and labor history. And the same things was true in Belgium. In Brussels there was a labor school there run by the Social Democrats and the Socialists. And the Labor party people sent students there, some of them all year round (I mean, for a regular course, year's course). So there was plenty of activity. What they were really doing was fighting for power, I guess, through trying to get control of these workers in their different groups' ideologies.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you travel in Denmark as well?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. I went up to Copenhagen, and we went to a labor school that

Page 58
was just out at—oh, you know, where Hamlet was [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Elsinore?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
At the castle at Elsinore [Laughter] . That was interesting too, because there again were these of the Social Democratic type.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you visit any of the folk schools in Denmark?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Any of the folk cooperatives?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no. I visited one of these Social Democratic schools in Copenhagen. And I can remember the man who was the director of it said they took a few Communists because they were the yeast in the dough. [Laughter] They kept the students on their toes [Laughter] , challenging them all the time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Were you reading things at this time, any particular writers or theoreticians about workers' education who had an influence on you?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, but I read whatever I could get my hands on. You know, whatever I saw I read, but I don't remember particularly any more.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you meet many workers? Were you actually in contact with many of them?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Only through these classes. And there they would talk to you; in fact, they were eager to talk. They liked to have people come, and were very eager to talk.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, how did you translate this experience to what was going on and what you'd been involved with to some extent in this country? Did you see the same sorts of things beginning to go on? Were people fighting for political power through workers' education programs, or were they that

Page 59
widespread [Laughter] ? Were they that important?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think there was a beginning of it before the World War.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
World War I?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. They were springing up all around. I'd hear about one, I think, in Madison, Wisconsin and one somewhere else. San Francisco had a very fine labor school up there. I imagine they were springing up all over.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And what happened? When you were working in the Southern Summer School in '29 and earlier ('28 and '29 and '30), did you feel you were part of a movement? Was it a workers' education movement?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, we felt that way when we were at Burnsville particularly, because of the Marion strike, I think. And we did march, as I remember, in a demonstration. And when the workers were on trial we went to some of the trials. I think that gave you a sense of being part of it: mostly the Marion, and then of course the girls talking. And you heard so much about these different places that they did give you some idea of a feeling that you were a part of it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you see the set-up in Europe, with the different political parties having their own schools, an advantage or a disadvantage? I mean, if you translated that to this country would you have gone with a system where, say, the Socialist party (which at that time was viable [Laughter] ) . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, they have had their schools.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. But, I mean, did you think that that was the way to proceed? Were you interested in pursuing that kind of thing yourself, becoming involved politically to further the workers' education movement? Or did it ever go that far?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well yes, to a certain extent.

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MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, were the people who were at the Southern Summer School. . . . As I understand from what I've read there was a real hesitation to become aligned with any labor group, for that matter, but any political group either.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
We did join, some of us, I joined the teachers' union at Breekwood. Brookwood was the outstanding labor college with A.J. Muste; and that was the one that everybody looked up to, was Brookwood and Muste.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I came across when I was hunting through this stuff my union card [Laughter] with Brookwood Labor, Brookwood.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So there was an attempt to try to join some group nationally.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I joined that teachers' union, I remember; that was the Brookwood Local.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
A.J. Muste, I've always wanted to get around and follow his career. He became a very outstanding pacifist, you know, a leader of the pacifist movement. And I think the Fellowship of Reconciliation owes a lot to him. [Interruption]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I wanted to ask you what you remember most vividly about the Southern Summer School, about the faculty and the students and the interaction between them. What was the atmosphere like in the school?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very friendly, very cooperative.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I've read in many places where Louise MacLaren would describe that it was a cooperative community. There wasn't a hierarchy.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, there wasn't. They called us, I remember, by our first names, and we called them by their first names, and it was really just like one big

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happy family. It was very cooperative.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
If you described the students, could you describe them as a group? I mean, were most of them shy or were they . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, they were very different, very much individuals. Some were strong and outspoken, some were shy (you had to encourage them to get anything out of them at all, sort of draw it out and make them realize that you were a friend, interested in them. Then they'd talk.)
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did most of them seem very young?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, there were older ones and younger ones. It was quite a mixed group.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And what about married women vs. single women?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
There were some married women too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you ever involved in the recruiting process?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, never. I think Louise did that: raising the funds, getting students.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
If you had to say (in all of the discussion and debates that have gone on about whether working class people in the South have any kind of class consciousness), were these people class conscious, for lack of a better term?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
To a certain extent. They were conscious of the fact that they had to work for a living and that the conditions of their work were not very pleasing to most of them. And of course that was a period when there was a lot of what they called the "stretch-out" system, when they had to work a number of machines and it was really too difficult for them. And some of the strikes, I think, really had as a basis that so-called technology, or what the workers called the "stretch-out" system.

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MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. Were they angry?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, some of them were very angry. And a strange thing too—not strange, I guess—when they came together the girls from like Elizabethten seemed to think it was because the bosses were German. But then when the girls from Marion spoke they weren't German. And the Enka mills, we got very few from there, but that was a Dutch-owned. And then some of them, like speaking of the Cone mills, Jewish; and at Danville there was a man, again Nordic type like themselves; and southern, I think. So they came to realize it wasn't a matter of nationality, nor was it a matter of whether the man came from North or South, but that it was a profit motive of the factory to get as much out of them as possible and pay as little as possible.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think the school gave them any way or any ideas about ways that they could channel their anger?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, the school did point to the fact that if they would stick together, if they would organize, cooperate with each other that they'd have much more bargaining power than if they were just individuals striking out in anger. Yes, in that sense.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there any idea of people, of these women going back and starting workers' education classes, or trying to feed into the organized labor movement?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think there was a hope that they might participate. The United Textile Workers was organizing down there; and our group had nothing really to do with the Communist group, which also was organizing, the National Textile Workers' Union. So I think there was definitely the feeling that, you know, if they'd cooperate with the United Textile Workers Union that that was. . . .

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[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
. . . were not employed by any union. It was only to get them to see that if they could cooperate and organize themselves they'd get some sort of bargaining power, that then they would have more strength when it came to their conditions of labor and their wages and hours and so on.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the YWCA as an organizing group? Was there any feeling that that was at all effective? A lot of these women came from the YWCA.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, they had come from the YWCA, and I guess in their communities the industrial branch of the YWCA had been quite effective in trying to get the women in their classes to see that they had something in common with the other workers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
There were some faculty people I wanted to ask you about. Louise McLaren, from the things I've read it seems to me that . . . would it be misleading to say that the school would never have kept running as long as it did without her?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I think that's very true. She was the one that raised the funds; she was the organizer, the administrator, getting the students, making the contacts.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why do you think she was so committed to this work? From reading her correspondence it is a committment, it's an incredible dedication.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Definitely a committment. I really don't know. But she was a Vassar graduate, and went into the industrial YWCA. And I guess she felt that this was something so important, that these workers have a chance. The conditions of their lives probably appealed to her; she thought it was terrible that they should have to live under such conditions.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you have any clue as to why she was so dedicated to workers in

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the South in particular? She wasn't from the South.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, she was not a southern worker. But she did work, I think, or have contact with some of the YWCA people who were working in the South, because I had a very good friend here in Los Angeles. Her name was Elizabeth Hughes, who had worked for the YWCA in the South, I think in Texas (I've forgotten where). And she knew Louise and admired her very much. So it may be. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She worked for the school later, Elizabeth Hughes.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, not Elizabeth Hughes. Amy Hewes worked at Bryn Mawr.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, this is Elizabeth H-e-w-e-s?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, Elizabeth H-u-g-h-e-s.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She did, in around '43; she was a field worker for a summer or something like that under Louise.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Really? She never told me that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Is she still here in Los Angeles?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
She died of cancer about five years ago. She was another very dedicated person.
So maybe Louise just thought it was worse in the South.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was wondering if she maybe felt that in the South, because of the movement or the concentration of the textiles from the northeast to the South that there was sort of a new field, and really crucial to. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think she did.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . to the national organization.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think she did.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about her interest in organizing women workers in particular? What do you think that came out of?

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, probably she had worked more with women: at Vassar, it was a women's school, and in the YW she was with women. I think she had just more or less been associated with women; I mean, that seemed to be the field of interest in which she found herself.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She seemed to at times want or push certain AFL officials she knew to try to start organizing drives among women, and received usually a pretty negative response. A few people were interested in organizing women at the time.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very few, any more than the women workers were interested in the black workers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I wanted to ask you about Lois MacDonald, and I was trying to get some sense of the way she interacted with students. Did they like her a lot?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very much, very much.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was she very effective the way she worked with them.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, oh yes, yes. She was laughing and jolly, had a marvelous sense of humor. They did like her very much. Everybody liked Lois.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How closely did Louise and Lois work together in sort of setting up the school in the beginning? Did you get some sense of that at all?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. They were very close friends, very close friends.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was interested in Hollace Ransdell's work with labor drama [Laughter] . How did the students react to her, to the plays?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
They enjoyed them; they were very enthusiastic.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was she easy to work with?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think she had certain standards, and was rather demanding, but I think they appreciated that because they got good results. She was a

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very able person.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you know anything about her later work with the CIO . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, I really don't.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . as editor of the CIO news?
Were the faculty members the four years you were there good friends, would you say?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, very good friends, very good friends.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about differences in committment to the whole thing? Was everyone sort of in the whole project to the same degree?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think so. Probably Louise the most, because she was the backbone of it and held us together. But I think all of us were dedicated, loved it, felt that it was worthwhile.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever work with anyone on the faculty who didn't think it was worthwhile, who thought it was a waste of time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did anyone like that ever show up [Laughter] one summer?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no. I never saw anybody show up like that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about long-range sorts of goals that people had? Did people like Louise McLaren and Hollace Ransdell really see workers' education as a way to bring about some great change?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I really don't know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What I'm thinking of is perhaps a way of changing things more effectively than, say, going with organized labor all the way. I mean, in many ways they were oftentimes very critical of organized labor.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I really don't know; I couldn't answer that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about your own feeling on that, as far as you were concerned?

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I don't think any of us really knew what the future would bring. All we knew was that this was important for the time. And what happened, I don't think we were too concerned about it really.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The avenues that you had come down until 1928 or '29 sort of lead you into workers' education. There would be no way for you to get involved in organized labor really, would there have been?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no—except, as I said [Laughter] , I belonged to the Brookwood Local [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right, right.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
The American Federation of Teachers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever contemplate, for instance, trying to work as an organizer or something like that for the United Textile Workers?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Maybe in some of my wild moments.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think that they ever would have asked any of you to go into towns and organize?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I think they probably would have been glad enough to get any help they could get.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Really?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I imagine; I really don't know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were there any political differences among people on the faculty when you were there? Were any faculty members more committed to one political philosophy than another?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, not much when I was there. I mean, we all pretty much . . . I guess we really didn't quite know where we were going, but we just hoped [Laughter] that things would get better, you know, believed that if there were more education there'd probably be more intelligent action.

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MARY FREDERICKSON:
But few people had any kind of program set out that they were . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, I don't think so, not when I was there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about later? Was there any? I sort of got drifts of. . . . Well, it was a time of incredible faction [Laughter] , and I felt that in a way the school got involved in that to a certain extent. In the early years I sort of thought of you as a group, not all of one mind but all of basically one mind. And then later it seemed like that people wanted to go in different directions.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I was there only four summers, and those four summers were more or less united, I think, in what we were doing.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there ever any discussion of bringing men into the school when you were there?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I can't remember that; I don't remember.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
During the four summers that you were there, could you think of any ways in which the school changed, over that period from '28 to '31?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think the most active and intense period was the period at Burnsville during the Marion textile strike, when we had the workers going back and forth from Marion to the school. And we'd go to Marion and go to the court, as I said, when they were being tried. I think that was the most exciting one, where you felt you were really part of something.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you in close contact with the organizers: Alfred Hoffman, was it?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, really it was more the students in the school and through maybe their husbands or people that they knew rather than with the organizers, as I remember it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Did their husbands ever come to the school during then?

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I can't remember: maybe to a social event or something of that kind, but I don't remember.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you go into the town and meet a lot of the people who were on strike?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
In Marion?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, we did in Marion, because you see at Burnsville we weren't too far from Marion.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. That was really the first time, or only time, that that happened, that you went right into a community.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, and that was the most exciting of them all, and I think probably the most vital.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you feel about, or how did the women at the school or the faculty feel about their role in the strike? Was there anything they could do, or was it something that was sort of being played out that would turn out?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, I think it was being played out. The only thing we could do was to show our sympathy with the strikers through our students. And I remember once we did march [Laughter] in some demonstration. And, as I said, I remember going to the court when they were being tried.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember hearing later about the second strike in October, when the six workers were killed? Do you remember hearing? Did you follow Marion and what was going on?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I did probably in a way, but I was . . . was I in Europe then or someplace?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes. You left for Europe, you must have left right after the school that year, right?

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I guess so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In '29.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
After all, we were going and looking at things day and night, you know, and busy. You hear about things, but it's something far off and you're no longer part of it really.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever want to go back to Marion and see what had happened?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. And I always wanted to know what happened to the girls, the women at the school. But again, I don't know, I guess when I close one chapter and go into another I just don't have much time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was the relationship, as you saw it, between the school and organized labor?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I really can't tell you that either, because I don't know too much about it. I know that Mary Barker (was that her name?), she was tied up with the teachers' union.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
American Federation of Teachers.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
And she was very much a union person. And she came to visit the school and was interested. But I can't remember, really, that any of the labor people took especially active part in anything. If they did it would have been more in conversations with Louise or maybe giving something, a scholarship for somebody or something of that kind.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember ever discussing with students problems that they had had becoming members of unions? Every southern worker at that time was having trouble [Laughter] becoming a member of a union, but I mean as women particularly.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, I don't.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you get any sense from the autobiographies and from talking

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with them about their experiences of the way in which they fit into their community? I mean, within their own families they were workers. I mean, there was nothing about sort of saving women from work except when they were having a child, nothing about keeping them from working?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was that reflected in the sense that they had of themselves as being . . . workers who had responsibilities and who were needed by other people, and who had a place in the community?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, definitely they felt. . . . I mean, they worked hard, and there wasn't much extra time. And so many of them would have dependents, either children, husbands, mothers, fathers, some older relative. And I think there was very little time for anything except just work.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
We talked a few minutes ago about the school as a vacation experience for some of these women. What about it as a. . . . Do you think it served as sort of a space where they could come and maybe for the first time have time to contemplate what had happened to them?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, I do, definitely: the first time that they'd had a chance to rest, to relax, to re-create, to "rap" as they say now with other women, and to read some—some of them did read; we had a library there. And they talked a lot among themselves, talked with us. It was a wonderful experience of freedom and security: three meals a day, a place to sleep and nothing to do except just go to classes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What do you think most of them, or some of them, got out of their contact with the faculty, with you and with other faculty members?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I don't know. I guess they felt we were much luckier than they were. [Laughter] Teaching was much easier than working in a textile mill.

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[Laughter] No wonder Bessie wanted her children to be educated [Laughter] and not have them work in the mill.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think there was a feeling that possibly they could either stem the tide against the stretch-out, or that they could do something by going on strike or speaking out in some way to improve conditions and improve wages? Was there any optimism about being able to do that?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think there was in the beginning. These strikes, I think, were spontaneous really. There was no planning. The conditions just got bad and they called a strike; it was a spontaneous sort of thing. And then, of course, they learned so much that they were black-listed, some of them never probably rehired again. And in a town where you have probably the mill as the only way you can earn a living it's pretty tough to be black-listed, especially if you have others dependent on you. And so many of these girls did. So they learned. They'd be arrested; they'd be jailed; there were all kinds of things happening to them. And how much they gained I really don't know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You sort of described the summer of 1929 as the peak year, as the year when hopes were highest, maybe, for something being done. What about the years after that?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
The years at Arden, the two years at Arden that I was there?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, it seems to me that the Danville strike came in there too, didn't it?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
We had a girl from Danville, but we weren't so involved because we weren't so close. Somebody like Louise, I think she went to Danville and

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knew quite well some of the people in Danville, through some students that we'd had. But I really didn't have any contact with that situation. I was interested just because it was part of the whole process.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there sort of a let-down of some kind in '31, '30 and '31 maybe. I mean, by that time the strikes in Marion, Gastonia and Elizabethton had failed.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well maybe, but somehow you just go ahead. I mean, here are your students, here's a summer school, and you go ahead and do what you can.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I don't think any students came from Gastonia.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, that was a Communist-led union; it was the National Textile Workers' Union. We didn't have any students. But the trials were in Charlotte, as I remember, and Louise—I think it was Louise, or somebody—and I went to some of the trials just because we were interested.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember those trials very well?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I may have something in here; I don't know. Well, I remember vividly some of these stories they told about the terror that was used against them. I guess they were evicted and had a tent city. They were scared to death and all. And then of course these people were arrested on a murder charge, as I remember. Here you look at them all lined up, you know, as murderers. And as far as I can remember so many were outside organizers; they'd come down from New York. But I think there were some from Gastonia who were in it too. They probably didn't know what had hit them [Laughter] . It was frightening, very frightening.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there a feeling of that being a spontaneous strike very much like Marion and Elizabethton?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I really don't know; I don't know enough. Mary Heaton Vorse has

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written a book about it, and who else has?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, in Tom Tippett's book he has a section on Gastonia.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It seemed to me that the man who was in it, Fred Beale . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Fred Beale, a proletarian.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
. . . didn't he write? And now then there's this autobiography of Vera Bush, which I would like to read but haven't.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I just wondered if the next couple of years, in '30 and '31, if there was a feeling that that strike, because the organizers who went there had been from a Communist union, was sort of somehow put into a different kind of perspective?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I think so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, as far as any movement of widespread labor organization in the South was concerned.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, I think so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Could you tell among the students the next two years that it had been sort of damaging that that had happened?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. But I think there was, you know, an antagonism to the Communists, to the National Textile Workers' Union.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was it an antagonism, or were they opposed to Communists because . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, they had all the fears of their being traitors and everything else.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What I'm saying is that it seemed to me from reading a lot of the course outlines from the school that in many ways what Lois MacDonald was advocating. . . .I mean, she would describe the capitalist system and she would describe the Socialist system or the Communist system, not necessarily labeling things. But through talking to students and discussing motives of

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profit or motives of collective benefit the students would come to those sorts of conclusions: that a collective or a Socialist system would be . . . and that they would be in a better position as workers in that kind of . . . and that kind of worker control would be . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Desirable?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Desirable.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I doubt if they took it too seriously [Laughter] . I mean, I doubt if they had that kind of a concept. I think what they really wanted was just better conditions—like Bessie Edens. She wanted enough money to send her children through school, so that they won't have to live the kind of life their parents have been living. They want an opportunity. But I doubt if any of them really considered working in any way for the overthrow of capitalism. I think they were too much part of the capitalist system to think in those terms, and they simply thought of reform so that they got a much better deal: the New Deal, the Fair Deal, what have you. That is more what they had in mind.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I read one essay that a student wrote, I think it was in '32. Hazel Dawson, do you remember her?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Who?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Hazel Dawson, from High Point.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I don't remember.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She was writing, she wrote: "Aren't we fooling ourselves, you know. As women we say we'll go into the mills, we'll work for a short time, we'll get married and we'll get out. As workers we say we'll get in, maybe we'll get enough money saved up to buy some land or buy a place and run it ourselves—that is, we'll be capitalists, you know. But how many women don't have to go

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back into the mills after they marry. Is marriage really a way out of working, and is saving a little money really going to make us into capitalists, you know?" That's very intriguing in a way, that she was writing along these lines.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, it was true, and she was thinking realistically, because most women weren't going to get out of the mill.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. But I just wondered how many of them were thinking along those lines and sort of articulated it that way?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Probably not too many. Maybe in most of them there was a hope of escape, that something would happen.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the school as an organization for women? Was there a feeling of mutual concern for each other as women?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think so. And don't forget that was a period in which coeducation, maybe especially in the South, was not so common (North Carolina College for Women, and St. Mary's women's and so on) and women tended to go to women's colleges.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, nationally too.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Nationally Vassar, Smith, Bryn Mawr and so on, really up until perhaps your generation when things began, everything became coeducational all of a sudden, almost everything coeducational opening up. Of course I didn't have that, because as I said, in the first place I was brought up with three brothers and three sisters, a mother and a father. I always went to coeducational schools: the University of California was coeducational. At Columbia there were very few men, as I remember, in the graduate department of English. [Laughter] I can hardly remember any of them; they were almost all women. There were a few. Then why I went to a women's college

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and stayed five years and loved it I'll never know. And then these women's summer schools. But it was a marvelous experience; I'm glad I did it. But I think it was just because it was the custom more than anything else. People hadn't broken through to this coeducational idea.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, do you think that perhaps in the custom, within the custom, women gained some kind of, I don't know, sense of security or strength or something?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think so. I think there was almost a nunnery feeling about it. You get so. . . . I was so happy with these women. When I was at NCCW I remember a number of the women lived together; they kept house together, had apartments together. When I first went there I lived in a boarding house;5 the woman had lost her husband. And Louise Irby in the history department had a room there and I had a room there, and we ate in the college dining room. And then two years I was in college dormitories as a house mother, saving money that I later used in Europe. And my last year (or maybe it was my last two years) I lived in a house in which Harriet Elliott had the lower floor except for the living room. And upstairs there were (let me see, one, two, three), I think four bedrooms, and different teachers lived in these rooms. One of my very closest friends lived in the bedroom next to me, Elva Barrow in the chemistry department. Well, it was a wonderful arrangement; these were marvelous women; I enjoyed them thoroughly, and you just get used to that kind of life, I guess. In fact, I thought it was really . . . I suppose it was very comfortable.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Did men play a part?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very little.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, did a lot of these women have . . . ?

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Very little, very little, very little. Ann Ketchin, her father I think it was was related—no, not her father, but there was some sort of intermarriage thing with one of Lois's relatives. And Ann later married and had a son. I later married and had a son, but most of those women never married. And practically all of them stayed on there until they retired, and then lived near the campus after they retired.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I sort of get the feeling from what you're saying that it was not at all like a feeling of isolation or a feeling of having been rejected or a feeling of just. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh no, I think we enjoyed it. They have a very beautiful park around part of the campus, with lovely trees in there, and there was a stream. It was a beautiful retreat for those who loved nature. And we used to go in there some when we had a little time, and I played tennis and I swam down at the YWCA. And actually we were busy. It was the first time in my life, I guess, that I really had the feeling of no pressure. And you'd get interested in something, you'd go in the library and read it. You had time to prepare your classes, you had time to have individual conferences with each of your students. It was an ideal situation. You had your own office, you had your own classrooms. Well, maybe others used the classrooms too, but at least you had your office, and privacy, and few enough classes so that you had ample time to prepare and to give to your students. It was really an ideal situation. Now when I went into the Long Beach Junior College it was more like a factory. It was mass education, and I couldn't get used to it. I couldn't fit into it. I didn't have time to prepare the way I wanted to prepare; I couldn't really correct the papers the way I wanted to. I couldn't have the conferences I wanted to; I couldn't have the relationships.

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And I couldn't really, I mean, correlate my subject teaching with my students the way I had at NCCW. It was an ideal set-up there. No wonder they wanted to stay on. You get out in this mass world of terrible pressures, and it's just . . . like a madhouse. Maybe that's why I threw up the job at the NWU6 and everybody thought I was crazy because there were so few jobs, and then the Depression.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] For the working class women who came to this school, it seems to me that few of them would have come from that, come out of the tradition of women being apart. I mean, few of them had been to school at all.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, most of them had had some schooling.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, but not to women's colleges.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh no.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But had been in coeducational. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
The students?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. . . . coeducational public schools.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, they had gone maybe up until they were about fourteen or something like that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think that they had a . . . sense of women's role or women's work, or what they should do as women, the same way that you described so many of the faculty people sort of coming out of this tradition?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Of course they were there for six weeks, so they came from a life with men to go back and to work in the factory with men. So I think for them it was just, as I say, like a brief vacation for six weeks [Laughter] .
Well I was going to tell you (I got off the subject), I remember when The Well of Loneliness became popular and for about the first time people

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began talking about lesbianism. So all this talk about lesbianism, you know, sometimes you almost felt, "Well, maybe this close friendship with a woman, maybe people misinterpret it, you know." But actually, the sexual thing just didn't enter into it. And it seems maybe strange to people that are living perhaps what are considered more normal lives. But we were busy, we were happy. I don't think any of us specially felt the need for the [Laughter] other sex.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's interesting.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, it was strange, I mean, when I look back upon that. But it was very peaceful. My husband is an engineer, civil engineer, and like a lot of engineers he's very demanding, and everything has to be just so and so on. I'm no longer my own person the way I was then. I probably wouldn't have been my own person if I'd gotten out and gone into controversial things in the community; I probably wouldn't have lasted very long.
In fact, I remember—what was his name, the man who later became the editor of the New Republic—Eduard Lindeman. When I first went there I was told that Lindeman had let his Negro servant, I think, have a party in the basement or something like that, and that people were up in arms about it and thought it was so terrible. Then people began telling me things about Lindeman, and he seemed to be kind of an object of something not to do and not to be, you know: don't get yourself involved with a person like that. But he had a very good friend who had a lot of money who was staking the New Republic, I think, and she got him a job. And of course he was a very able, very capable man. I remember now; that takes me way back, Eduard Lindeman.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, he had done some early work in adult education, hadn't he? I think he has a book on it.

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I don't remember. Anyway, in the New Republic he became a very outstanding person, figure. But he was a liberal, and I guess stood out in the area. Anyway, as I think about it, if one had gotten into controversial subjects I doubt if you would have been your own person. But if you stayed within the accepted groove, why, as I say, you could be very comfortable and very happy. And the girls were interesting, and I enjoyed those girls too. I think maybe the women in industry were more interesting, because they brought a background of work and experience so much more than the girls who had just gone through high school and had had more comfortable lives.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. I'm very much aware of sort of a gap between the middle class women and the working class women at the school, and yet I see people within both groups looking at the school as a place for women, as an organization that was especially designed and created because of women and for women. And I just wondered how that gap showed up. I mean, it seems to me as I imagine it, that it would have showed in sort of . . . very basic sorts of ways, like with almost knowledge of foods or books or theater or past experience, or even in customs and habits like relationships with men or children perhaps. I don't know, in some of the things that I've read about working class women in the South, it seems that a lot of the women had relationships with men at a fairly early age, that would maybe be a marriage but maybe not be, and marriages tended in some ways to be very unstable. A lot of them went through one that didn't last very long, children often being raised by grandparents: that sort of thing, just a completely different sort of experience from what the middle class women had been through. Were you aware of that, of that gap?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Of course there was a cultural gap; there's bound to be. And I

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suppose it really showed up most when certain ones of us were gathered talking. And naturally Louise, Lois, Holly and I and others of the staff who were around, naturally we would talk together. But otherwise I don't think so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, were you there sort of learning about each other's lives, but it was still within the context of all having mutual concerns?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think so. Right, definitely.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was curious about what other people in the communities around where you were staying at Burnsville and other places thought of you [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I'd like to know too. I don't know too much. But I do remember somebody saying that those costumes that we wore, they were showing your legs. That was the time you didn't show your legs, you didn't dress like that. And when somebody said that we were called "hussies" [Laughter] : those hussies. But they had a marvelous restaurant in Burnsville; it was a famous restaurant where you had one of these big dinners spread out, you know, with all these luscious things, homemade things, called the Nu-Wray Inn as I remember. And I remember we went there several times, and everybody was always very friendly. I never had anybody. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Would the whole school go there?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no, just maybe Louise and I went there, or Louise, Lois and I; I can't remember—Holly maybe. But actually when you met them they were very friendly and would talk, and they were curious about us, I guess [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I just wondered if you ever got any feedback about it, because certainly it was an unusual group [Laughter] out in the woods of North Carolina.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Sometimes when we'd maybe meet somebody or run into somebody and

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get to talking, we were always a friendly outgoing lot. Most of us, I guess, were very approachable and easy to meet.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . returned from Europe you spent that next year teaching at the Vineyard Shore School?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And I was wondering how you were contacted for this. Was it sort of through Louise McLaren?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, they knew that I'd been at the Southern Summer School, and they needed somebody at Vineyard Shore. The year before (funny, I can't even think of her name), there was a woman who taught at Vassar that came over and taught English at Vineyard Shore. But she felt that she couldn't give that much time, another year, and they felt that it wasn't enough time anyway. They wanted somebody who was in residence there. So I came back out of a job and out of money, and when I was offered this job I gladly took it [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was Hilda Smith running Vineyard Shore at that time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Could you sort of compare Vineyard Shore to the Southern Summer School? And what was the set-up at Vineyard Shore? Was it year-round?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It was the first year that I was there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It tried to be a year-round program [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It meant to be. But the next year it couldn't raise the money, so we had short sessions: I think about four months, five months, something like that. Well, there was a very different composition of girls, of course. Many of the girls at Vineyard Shore (many: there weren't so many there, I

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don't know, forty maybe?). . . . I don't know; I don't have a quantitative [Laughter] sense.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did they come and live there?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
They lived there. And I had my room in what had been Miss Smith's home; it was a beautiful home facing the Hudson. And then the other building that we had, I don't know whether they rented it or leased it or bought it—I've forgotten. Anyway, that looked like a southern white mansion, one of those white beautiful places. And Ernestine Friedman lived there. Now Ernestine Friedman was the director of the Barnard School for Women Workers in Industry, and she taught the economics there. And I taught the English.7 And it was pretty much the same sort of set-up: they had these two classes in the morning, and then in the afternoon they were more or less free. But living with them and there all the time, especially when you had a long period, you can see. . . . When you get that autobiography of Lura Ketchie, for instance, you'll see what she did in the six weeks in the summer school and what she did in the long term at Vineyard Shore. But these girls were different. We had a few girls from the Southern Summer School. A number of the girls had either been to Barnard or they had been to Bryn Mawr, and, as I say, maybe two or three from the Southern Summer School. And we had a girl from Denmark, two girls from England that had been quite active in the labor union in England and the cooperative movement, and really had had experience like in the Labor Party. One of them had been especially active; she was really interesting, Millie.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Didn't she come to the Southern Summer School?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Then she came to the Southern Summer School. She was in one of those pictures. She was really a character, and everybody loved Millie.

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There were a number of Jewish girls from the garment workers' industry; and we had these girls that made Hattie Carnegie dresses (for instance, I remember an Italian girl who did), and millinery workers from New York; and girls who had come from Russia, from Poland, Jewish girls. It was an entirely different set-up. These were girls that were much more sophisticated and experienced. I didn't find it any more interesting, but it was different.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were they much more aware of where they were going and what they were . . . ? I mean, a lot of them were members of unions, were they not?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, definitely, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The problem that I mentioned in the South of people coming out of their communities and going through this experience, then going back and not having anything to plug what they'd learned into. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They could go back in. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
And work in different. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Networks.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
A number: it was not true of all of them, but some of them. I remember a girl there who was very active in the Amalgamated Garment Workers' Union, another one in the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and so on. They had a place to go back to. Of course it was the Depression, and work was slack for them. They were glad enough to have a place where they could stay, a beautiful place, and get their three meals a day [Laughter] and their room and board [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. What about the same thing we were just talking about, about the feeling of a space where the people could sort of think about,

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contemplate?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, that, I think, was the big advantage, of pressures, all pressures removed really.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the relationship between all these women from so many different areas and so many different countries? Did the same feeling of the women's organization hold?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, the same feeling of sympathy for women's organizations, for women's advancement, and also for labor's advancement: very definitely conscious of it. And they did represent different points of view, and sometimes they would argue very heatedly for their different points of view.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did that ever happen at the Southern Summer School?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I can't remember its ever happening, except maybe when we got into a discussion, like, of the blacks or something of that kind. Then you'd get feelings running rather high, perhaps. But never anything like the different points of view that would be expressed in Vineyard Shore [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. Did you ever get any feeling from the women at Vineyard Shore who were active in the unions that even in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers' and the International Ladies' Garment Workers' they had trouble as women sort of getting into the union and having a place and being active?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. Of course the leadership, I think, was largely male, but I guess they found their place. And they seemed to feel that they belonged to the union [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
OK, that's what I was wondering.

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
But I think the leadership was pretty. . . . Now of course there was a woman in charge of the Women's Trade Union League, Rose Schneiderman. And they did respect the women who were leaders in the labor movement of any kind, I mean people like Rose Schneiderman, head of the Women's Trade Union League (I think it was called). But they were very loyal, of course, in their own unions, like their families. And the fact that mostly it was headed by men (almost entirely, I guess) didn't seem to bother them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you get any feeling about a tension, sort of, between these women with being exposed to an organization like the Vineyard Shore School or the Bryn Mawr Summer School or the Women's Trade Union League groups that were run primarily by middle class women, and then going from that—or in the case of the Women's Trade Union League, I guess, really being asked to have allegiance to that group over time (I mean, the Women's Trade Union League had organizers and stuff like unions)—a tension between dealing with a group run by middle class women and a union which was run by working class?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think so, I think there was some of that. I think there were others that appreciated any interest and any help, no matter where it came from. But I think some of the others felt that it was better handled by those who actually were in the industry, and that we were probably more theoretical than practical [Laughter] —which is what's probably true.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Would you now think of it in terms of playing off a working class organization integrated between men and women, run primarily by men, and a middle class organization which was made up of women, of both working class women and middle class women? I mean, did it ever come to

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class versus feminism [Laughter] ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, no, not at that time. The feminist movement was strong in England, of course, and we had had our suffrage movement. But the consciousness of women that we have now I don't think existed then.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Even in a way that was, perhaps, not discussed but nevertheless there?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
To a large extent it was there, but not to the intensity or the clarity that it is now.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
OK. So if someone was struggling between those two things, allegiance to a group of women, middle class and working class, or allegiance to a working class organization, it was a struggle that wasn't . . . articulated.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think actually, though, the basic loyalty would be to their union.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
OK. Did you get any feeling in hearing them talk about the unions and the different unions of some being more open to the organization of women workers in particular than others?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was the reason the Vineyard School—I know all the schools ran on pretty tight little budgets [Laughter] —but was the reason they had so much trouble raising money that year they had to have a short session directly related to the Depression?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think so, I think so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was Hilda Smith like?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, it's hard really to tell; it's hard for me to tell what anybody's like. Hilda Smith was a very, like Louise, a very able administrator,

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and, like Louise again, really adored by all the people with her, as far as I knew. They used to talk about the A.F. of L.: instead of the A.F. of L., the American Federation of Labor, the Associated Friends of Louise [Laughter] . But Hilda has the same kind of loyalty and devotion that Louise had. She of course was Bryn Mawr, and also had the women's background that Louise had associating with women. And Hilda never married. Hilda is still living, Jane (we call her Jane); she lives in Washington. And even up to the time she was a very old lady she's been working in Washington in various groups, you know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She's with the Office of Economic Opportunity.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. She's a marvelous person. She's ill now, and she can't walk. She fell and broke her hip, and she's having a lot of difficulty. And her eyes are failing—very sad. Now the interesting thing is that student that I told you about that I keep in touch with [Laughter] over all these many years, I wrote to her and I asked her if she'd go to see Jane for me. So she did. So every now and then now she goes and sees Jane, and she writes me a letter telling me about how Jane is.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh that's nice.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
They were both women of the highest kind of principles and integrity and committment to this work that they did. They're just wholly committed—until Louise married, and then I suppose she shared her . . . [Laughter] , a lot of her committment went to her husband too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did it? Were you aware of it?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. She gave him time, and depended on him and was pretty fond of him. I think they had a pretty satisfactory relationship. And poor Jane is left alone now. Her brother died, her sister died; she has some

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nieces and nephews near Washington, but otherwise she's pretty lonely. Ernestine Friedman, the one that had the Barnard School and then economics at Vineyard Shore, is dead. When I look over it all, I think I get so depressed [Laughter] I can't do anything with it: dead, dead, dead.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] You talk about Hilda Smith or Jane Smith and Louise McLaren, describing them as alike. In what ways were they different, or were they basically alike?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think basically they were alike. They didn't look anything alike, but basically they really were alike: very able administrators, able to get the money (except for the Depression [Laughter] ).
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, during the Depression Hilda Smith was working for the Federal Education Relief Administration, sort of went into New Deal type of work, whereas [unknown] Louise McLaren never did that.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, she never worked for the government. She did go to work for the Affiliated Schools, though, in New York, and worked with Eleanor there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. I always thought she had a little more test of her committment, maybe, because she was always struggling to get money.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And Hilda Smith, after she started working for the government, was at least secure in that respect. But did you ever get the feeling that that led to some kind of difference in philosophy or something between the two of them?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
I think that Louise had a philosophy without really being too definite about it; I don't quite know what it was. But I think she perhaps was a little more committed maybe to a feeling that the world might be a much better place if it were better organized, differently organized. And Hilda,

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or Jane is a reformer; I mean, she'd like to see things much better. But I doubt if she went as far in her philosophy as Louise did. I think she probably was a great admirer of Roosevelt, I know Mrs. Roosevelt. I have a picture of her somewhere (I came across it looking for something from the Southern Summer School) of Jane and Mrs. Roosevelt taken together at Bryn Mawr when they were young [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well too, the whole idea of dealing with the New Deal later, but even earlier with the Bryn Mawr School, whereas Louise had been, by this Mrs. Odie8 I was talking about, sort of encouraged to have Sweetbriar adopt the Southern Summer School as a project. And she pushed away from that, you know, and wanted it . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
More independent.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Wanted it more independent, and wanted it run in a camp instead of in a private girls' school. I sort of felt she was fighting that sort of. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That sort of luxury, upper class connotation.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Maybe philanthropy.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
More of a creation of a network of working class women: her whole traveling during the winter and setting up workers' education programs in local communities was to that end, I think.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
That's right; I think so too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But it was all very self-contained, sort of independent, I think.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Now Jane has written or is writing a book, and she sent to me the section on the Bryn Mawr School. They honored her at Bryn Mawr several years ago, made quite a lot over her in connection with the school, which pleased

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her of course very much. I don't know whether she's ever going to get the book done and published or not before she dies, or whether she'll even be able to, but I have that section somewhere. And there's several women here, there's one woman who went to the Barnard School. No, first she went to Bryn Mawr; she's a Russian by birth. She went to Bryn Mawr Summer School, and then she went to Barnard. Then she went through Barnard College and got a degree. I don't know whether she ever went back into industry or not; I doubt it. She married a man then, an architect that I know, who was married to another woman [Laughter] I knew. She keeps asking me when I'm going to show her these things that I have from Jane, and I'm always telling her, "You know, next month I'll get after it." So far I haven't gotten around to it. But I don't dare let them go out of my hand, because I know I promised them to her.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You taught at the Bryn Mawr Summer School in 1932.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, one summer.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How would you compare it to the Southern Summer School and also to the program at Vineyard Shore?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, of course it was a much bigger school: I think we had about a hundred students there, as I remember. And we had more men on the faculty. And girls came from different countries, as well as different parts of the United States. It was much more cosmopolitan.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did they raise the money for women to come?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I think those girls that came from Europe (I was thinking of the one from Denmark and then these two from England—and later they came to Vineyard Shore, and then later Millie went down to the Southern Summer School), I think there were scholarships provided of some kind.

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The girls didn't have any money.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was the program basically the same?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
It was basically the same, but it was, I would say, a more sophisticated type of thing because these girls, so many of them had not rural backgrounds or small town backgrounds but city backgrounds, and city experiences, and in industries that were . . . well, like the ILGWU and the Amalgamated, you know, highly sophisticated groups. So in a way it was harder, because you had to make sure you had the subject matter that would not only interest them but make it seem worth their while, because I'm sure a number of them were very frank. [Laughter] You know, they'd say what they thought. And the southern girls were more . . . I don't necessarily want to say polite, but shyer and less sophisticated, less demanding.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you have any problem not being in an industrial union talking about unions? Were they into sort of offering training in union techniques and parliamentary law?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, some. But what I gave them more was like Robert's Rules of Order, just regular parliamentary rules, and mostly to get them up on their feet and get them talking and get them to express themselves, and develop confidence in themselves. It was that more than . . . certainly with the southern girls.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why did you decide to stop this chapter after 1932 and go back to California permanently?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, I don't know. Again, as I've told you before, I just suddenly do things.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] Well, at the end of the summer at Bryn Mawr, then, did

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you decide to. . . .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Come back to California, yes. I came back to California.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And did you stay with your family at all?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Most of the time I had an apartment with a friend here in Los Angeles. I saw a lot of my family; of course I hadn't seen much of them, too much, and all these little sisters and brothers growing up.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you meet your husband?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, he was working on the dam in Azusa where my mother was librarian. And he'd go to the library to get books, and she'd recommend things to him. And about that time, I think the only time the University of California ever asked me to do anything [Laughter] or that I ever did it, they had something they had just published, and they gave me a name of various alumni that were in this area (maybe about ten names) and asked me to write and ask if they would buy whatever this was (some history of the university). And my husband was on the list. So I just wrote it to him as I did to all those on the list, just "Please buy this." So he went to my mother and he said, "Well, she has your name. Do you know this woman?" And Mother said, "Yes, she's my daughter." So he wrote (and this was hard times again), and he said he couldn't afford the book or whatever it was [Laughter] , but would I let him come to see me [Laughter] . So I said yes, he could come to see me. He wanted to talk about the university. So he came, and stayed.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] When were you married? What year?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
'36.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then you had a son?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
In '38.

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MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that after your son was born you worked very closely with the organizations around the schools that he was in?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, the Parent Teachers', and various cooperative nursery schools, and during the war the day care center and nursery school. Then I did substitute teaching in a high school, and then they asked me to take a permanent . . . I mean to stay there, not to just substitute. So I did; but it was some distance away and I didn't drive, and a transportation problem. And mostly, the child got sick. I decided nothing was worth it to have him sick, that he needed me; so I stopped.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You mentioned the Community Coordinating Council you were on?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, I was active in that too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was that group trying to do?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, to get all the different agencies within this community to know each other and to send delegates to a monthly meeting, monthly luncheon, and bring out their problems. And we tried to correlate our work and see where we could help each other and so on.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And you also said you were active in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, I'm still active in that. I've been their legislative secretary for about twenty years, I guess [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was the first contact that you had with that group?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, my friend Matilda Robbins, who's on that list you saw about the Wayne University. I knew about them. The funny thing is, the woman I knew in the PTA (her son was in school with mine) was my first contact, and now she's the president of our group [Laughter] . She invited me to come to some lecture they were having, and I went with her. But I decided I wouldn't

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join them; I don't know why, but I decided I wouldn't. Then Matilda, somebody asked Matilda if she'd come and cooperate with her on the legislative work. And Matilda said no, she couldn't do it but she thought I would [Laughter] . So I got drafted. And I guess I've been everything but the president; I wouldn't take the presidency. I was vice-president, always hoping nothing would happen to the president [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] What kind of legislative work were you sponsoring or working with?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh, anything to do with civil liberties or in the realm of freedom, you know, and then of course the peace activities. This was formed by Jane Addams in 1915 in World War I. And Jane Addams got the Nobel Peace Prize; Emily Balch [co-founder of W.I.L.P.F. with Jane Addams in 1915], another one of our members, got the Nobel Peace Prize. Let's see, who else got it? Oh, Pearl Buck for literature—she was one of our members. I know we've had really a number of famous people [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you involved with them when World War II was on?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Oh yes, yes.9
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And what was their position during, or what were you involved in particularly, during that time?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, we were working all we could to try to bring about a peace, peaceful settlements. We worked quite closely with the Quakers, with the Friends' Committee on Legislation. Again I go back: some of my ancestors were Quakers, and I find myself working closely with Quakers [Laughter] .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you feel about the change from, say, World War II to the Korean War or the Vietnamese War? Did your own views about war change during that period, or did the wars themselves change in nature?

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MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, definitely, for me they did. I felt that World War II was really a necessary war against Fascism. But I don't really know; a lot of the people wouldn't take that view in the WIL, I think. But after my experiences in Germany I felt it was a justified war, but I was opposed to the war in Asia.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What did you think of the groups, student groups and other groups around the country who were . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
We were sympathetic with them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were working with them?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
We were sympathetic.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I wondered if you had been active, if you ever got active in the church again?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes. I joined the Unitarian church; I belong to the Unitarian church.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And have you been working with them through?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well, I haven't done much with them, but I belong to what they call the Fellowship for Social Justice, the Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice. And I worked with Elizabeth Hughes years ago when she chaired the labor committee; and she was busy with cancer plus a job to earn a living, so I did a lot of the leg-work: the telephoning, contact work and so on, in regard to the condition of the agricultural workers in the Imperial Valley.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. Have you been involved in any of the farm workers' things of late?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. We support the boycott, and we give money when we can and that kind of thing; take food occasionally (they'll have donations at the

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church; when they're on strike they get cans of food).
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about political work? Have you ever . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No, I'm not doing very much. I do belong to the group started by Senator Cranston that's sort of the liberal wing of the California Democratic party; it's called (what do they call themselves?) the Democratic Council. . . . Anyway, it was CDC; I can't even remember the name of it. It's kind of the liberal wing of the Democratic party, and I belong to that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever contemplate going back to teaching or becoming involved in . . . ?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
No. I'll be eighty in September.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, I know [Laughter] .
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
[Laughter] Don't ask me.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
[Laughter] No, I mean during this period after your son got older. Or did you find these other avenues of community work . . . satisfying for you?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Yes, it was satisfying, plus the fact that I did all my own work here. And, as I told you before, I have a very active, strenuous, demanding type of husband, and I just didn't have the energy to do too much else.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But all the community work that you were involved with did provide some kind of avenue for you.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
And I think without that I wouldn't have been very happy; but that gave me an outlet.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I appreciate it; it's been a help to me.
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
Well my dear, I hope I've helped you. I don't know what all these personal things have to do with anything.
END OF INTERVIEW
1. In addition to my great-uncle George Brown, who was a Supreme Court of North Carolina judge, I had a cousin by marriage, Judge Shepherd.
2. It was not "trouble." She resigned, as I recall, to go somewhere else.
3. My mother's father, as I recall, was a Methodist, and so were some of her cousins. I had a good friend who was a Baptist. I went to her church when she was baptized.
4. In fact, California got suffrage for woman Oct. 10, 1911. No wonder I took it for granted!
5. Not really "boarding." The owner rented rooms: one to Irby, one to Camp.
6. It should have been at the Long Beach, California, Junior College.
7. Louise Brown had classes in science.
8. Is this name correct? I have forgotten.
9. On thinking about my membership in the W.I.L.P.F., I realize I did not join until World War II was over. It seems I have been in it for such a long time, but I know it was after the war that I joined.