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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 >>

Female graduate student at a coeducational university

Camp discusses what it was like to attend a coeducational university in the 1910s. Earlier in the interview, Camp had described her determination to attend University of California at Berkeley, rather than attending the local junior college in Azusa, California. Majoring in English and education, Camp stayed at Berkeley to earn her master's degree. Here, she explains that although there were many women undergraduates, she does not recall that there were many women graduate students. Moreover, although the university had been coeducational since its inception, she recalls that when she decided to go to graduate school, one of her professors warned her that she would face difficulties as a woman in a male-dominated career. In light of this, Camp suggests that she may have only had the opportunity to teach as a graduate student because she was attending school during World War I and there were fewer male students than usual.

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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
How many women were at Berkeley then?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
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.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So they asked you to stay on because they needed teachers?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
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.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the students? Were there many women students like in the undergraduate. . . .?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
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.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was co-educational from the very beginning, wasn't it?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
As far as I know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you live in a dorm with lots of other women?
MIRIAM BONNER CAMP:
The first year I lived in a private home. But in my second and 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.