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Oral History Interview with Lucy Somerville Howorth, June 20, 22, and 23, 1975. Interview G-0028. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Lucy Somerville Howorth was born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1895. Howorth recalls her mother's political activism as a Mississippi state legislator and as a suffragist. Her mother's leadership and political beliefs strongly informed Howorth's own sensibilities: she recalls that even as a child, she was aware of gender inequality believed that women should have legal and political equality. By the 1910s, Howorth had become involved in the women's suffrage movement. She helped to organize an Equal Rights Club for women while she attended Randolph-Macon Woman's College from 1912 to 1916. During World War I, Howorth lived in New York City, attending graduate school at Columbia University in psychology and economics, working for the Bureau of Allied Aircraft, and working for the YWCA industrial department. In 1920, Howorth decided to become a lawyer and since Columbia did not admit women students to law school, she returned to Mississippi to attend the University of Mississippi law school. One of the only two women law students at Mississippi at the time, Howorth graduated at the top of her class while actively involving herself in school activities. Following her graduation, Howorth practiced law, married Joseph Howorth, another southern lawyer, and became a judge. In 1932, during the Great Depression, Howorth successfully ran for the Mississippi state legislature, where she served until 1936. In 1934, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed her to serve on the Board of Veterans Appeals, a position she held until 1943. Following World War II, Howorth worked actively to get women appointed to federal positions. Throughout her career, Howorth was involved in numerous women's organizations, including the YWCA, the American Association of University Women, the National Association of Women Lawyers, and the Professional and Businesswomen's Club. She describes her involvement in these organizations, her perception of the women who led them, and how these organizations evolved over the years.
    Excerpts
  • Women's suffrage as a basic human right
  • Description of Anna Howard Shaw's leadership
  • Establishment of the Equal Rights Association at Randolph-Macon Woman's College
  • Mississippi as progressive in women's education, but not for women's suffrage
  • "Sisterhood" between two female law students
  • Women's aspirations and expectations of them in college
  • Working for the YWCA
  • Working for the war industry and gender discrimination in the workplace
  • Southern woman's decision to become a lawyer
  • Southern woman excels in law school
  • Blending marriage and career
  • Southern woman's role in the Mississippi state legislature
  • Cloaking post-World War II women's organizations with patriotic rhetoric
  • Goals of the American Association of University Women
  • The YWCA and its role in the First International Conference of Working Women
  • The YWCA as a feminist organization
  • Support for the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Women in politics
  • Young Women's Christian associations
  • Women judges--Mississippi
  • Women's rights
  • Women--Suffrage--Mississippi
  • 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.