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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lucy Somerville Howorth, June 20, 22, and 23, 1975. Interview G-0028. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Women's aspirations and expectations of them in college

In this excerpt, Howorth discusses her fellow classmates' aspirations at Randolph-Macon Woman's College during the 1910s. According to Howorth, although women did not necessarily articulate dissatisfaction with what was expected of them, she does recall feeling that there was a sense of limitation. She offers a brief anecdote to describe this sense of frustration that things such as gender and physical appearance could limit one's options. Moreover, she explains that most of her colleagues expected to finish school and then "do a little society and marry."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lucy Somerville Howorth, June 20, 22, and 23, 1975. Interview G-0028. 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

CONSTANCE MYERS:
How different were your aspirations from those of your classmates at Randolph-Macon?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
I don't know . . . the girls of that period were not as frank about what they were thinking as in later periods. I remember one day, there was a girl I thought was on the stupid side, but she looked wonderful. She was sort of tall, she was substantial, she wasn't stout, but she was substantially built, a wind wouldn't blow her over. And she had a kind of comfortable expression on her face, you know. She wasn't a beauty, but she wasn't homely either. And as I say, a placid expression that reassured people that looked at her. I don't know who was sitting by me on the bench out on the campus and I looked at that woman or girl, I said, "You know, if I looked like Laura, I would be in the United States Senate some day." So, there must have been something kicking around in my head, but not articulated. So, whoever was with me, you know, she caught the implication and she said, "She is kind of dumb." (laughter)
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So, the Randolph-Macon girls weren't terribly expressive about what they might have intended to do in life, or was it pretty assured that they would marry?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Well, that was it, but they didn't articulate that like the girls did in the `30s and so on. Some of them were going to teach, but it was generally assumed that most of them would go home and do a little society and marry.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was there ever any question about the value of an expensive college education for that kind of life-time vocation?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Oh well, now, that argument has raged since Plato.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But I wondered if you women at Randolph-Macon thought about it?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Well, that kind of thing is thrown at you, you couldn't avoid it. Somebody would come along, "What does your father think of throwing away all this money?"