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Oral History Interview with Miriam Bonner Camp, April 15, 1976. Interview G-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Miriam Bonner Camp was born in Bonnerton, North Carolina, in 1896. In this interview, she describes growing up in Washington, North Carolina, and her family's historical roots in that area. Camp's mother, who stressed the importance of education and community involvement, was an especially influential figure in her life. In addition, Camp describes opportunities for women, the nature of race relations and social hierarchies, and the role of religion and education in Washington, North Carolina, during the early twentieth century. In 1909, Camp moved with her family to Azusa, California, where she had to endure the stereotypical assumptions people made about her as a southerner. As a high school student in California, Camp excelled academically in pursuit of her goal of attending Berkeley, which she attended from 1915 to 1920. While a student there, Camp became increasingly interested in social issues and was inspired by Progressive era thinkers like Jacob Riis and Jane Addams. She describes her life as a student at this coeducational institution, where she earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in English education. Following her tenure at Berkeley, Camp spent a year pursuing a graduate degree at Columbia University in New York City before returning to North Carolina to teach at the North Carolina College for Women in Greensboro, where she remained from 1921 until 1926. Camp describes work, life, and the close friendships she formed with other faculty members at this all-women's institution of higher education. In 1926, Camp left her post at the North Carolina College for Women to travel through Europe for a year. She returned to Europe again in 1930 after a brief sojourn teaching at the Long Beach California Junior College. During her second trip to Europe, Camp observed the intensifying labor movement and the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany. While there, she studied the workers education movement and the political diversity of labor activism. This followed her involvement with the Southern Summer School during several summers in the late 1920s. She describes the latter as a cooperative community geared towards group action for women workers. Camp offers insight into the role of female leadership at the Southern Summer School and discusses the kinds of problems women workers faced. In addition, she compares her experiences with the Southern Summer School to her briefer tenure at the Vineyard Shores Workers' School in 1931 and the Bryn Mawr College Summer School for Women Workers in 1932. In 1936, Camp was married. She concludes the interview by discussing her family life and her continued involvement in community activities.

    NOTE: Audio for this interview is not available.

    Excerpts
  • Avenues for public participation for women in the early twentieth century
  • Eventual breakdown of racial prejudice for one southern woman
  • Sex as a "taboo" subject
  • Female graduate student at a coeducational university
  • The Southern Summer School and encouraging women workers to organize
  • Description of women workers and obstacles to labor organization
  • The "nunnery feeling" and communal spirit of single-sex education
  • Positive interpretation of single-sex education for women
  • Loyalty to Class Over Gender in the Labor Movement
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Southern Summer School for Women Workers in Industry (U.S.)
  • Trade-unions--Officials and employees--Southern States--Education
  • Women in trade-unions
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.