Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
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 >>

Blending marriage and career

In this excerpt, Howorth describes her marriage to fellow lawyer Joe Howorth. As Howorth explains, their marriage was a true partnership. After their marriage, Joe told Lucy that he wanted their marriage to be "freeing" for her and that he had changed his worldview in order to be married to such an independent woman. Howorth argues that she believes she may have had more "power" had she remained single, but that marriage made her "sweeter." Although she and her husband did not have children (a decision she chooses not to explain), Howorth's comments demonstrate that women could blend romance and career with a supportive partner.

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:
I'm interested in your marriage and how it might have affected your career in retrospect. Did you find your marriage in any way an impediment in your career, in any way whatever?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
That is very difficult to know, because it's as Roosevelt used to say, an "ify" question. I think it changed the nature of my career in that as a solo person I would have operated differently and in a way, I might have struck within the state a little more power. But I think it made me a sweeter person, if that word can be applied to me, because I am pretty mean. And it also made much easier acceptance from many groups.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
You avoided that label, that unhappy label.
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
That's right, you see, and I think that I also avoided some of the sharpness that many single women seem to develop, that comes out as a rasping quality. I certainly would not change the course of my life.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
To have a confidant of the opposite sex is a tremendous release and. . . .
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Well, I think that human beings are made to go in pairs and I think that each supplements the other and if they are really congenial and devoted and none of this stupid domination. Soon after we were married, Joe said, "I want this to be a freeing experience for you." You see, he had seen this other kind of stuff, even if he hadn't as an individual, he had as a lawyer because he saw divorce cases every few days. And he has never . . . and I have never asked him to go into it, but he said that he had to change his whole point of view after he met me.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
He did have to?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
He said that once. So, I assume and you would have expected that he would have grown up with the traditional Lutheran-Presbyterian attitude that the man is the lord and master. His father was a Lutheran minister
CONSTANCE MYERS:
The tradition of the Judeo-Christian attitudes.
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Yes.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Well, you've had a rare and valuable helpmate.
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Yes, I'm well aware of that.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So, you didn't find it a hindrance to your career; it just altered the nature of your career somewhat. You had no children. Was this a conscious choice?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Well, that's my private business.