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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Miriam Bonner Camp, April 15, 1976. Interview G-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Avenues for public participation for women in the early twentieth century

Camp describes her mother's involvement in the women's suffrage movement in California and the kinds of opportunities women had for participation in public life in North Carolina. According to Camp, her mother was a self-identified feminist. Although she did not campaign actively for women's rights while the family still lived in Washington, North Carolina, she became more involved in the movement when the family moved to California after 1909 and her children were older. While still living in North Carolina, however, Camp explains how women's opportunities for public participation were largely limited to books, which offered intellectual stimulation, and in the churches.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Miriam Bonner Camp, April 15, 1976. Interview G-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

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 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 intellectual life. A lot of their life was around the church.