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Title: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 17, 1974. Interview G-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Johnson, Guion Griffis, interviewee
Interview conducted by Frederickson, Mary
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 148 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-12, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 17, 1974. Interview G-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0029-2)
Author: Mary Frederickson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 17, 1974. Interview G-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0029-2)
Author: Guion Griffis Johnson
Description: 160 Mb
Description: 35 p.
Note: Interview conducted on May 17, 1974, by Mary Frederickson; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series G. Southern Women, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 17, 1974.
Interview G-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Johnson, Guion Griffis, interviewee


Interview Participants

    GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON, interviewee
    MARY FREDERICKSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I don't believe that she's heard from the grant yet.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I had a very good letter, not saying positively, but indicating that the grant would be forthcoming.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Wonderful. Well, I think that's something that really needs to be done.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. This is what he said. And I think that he was trying to tell me without saying in so many words, that the grant would be forthcoming. Now, Jackie will know soon, won't she?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He said that he would let her know within, I thought . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
By the first of June?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . in the next few weeks.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
By the first of June, or the first of July. So many foundations have the year June to July, you see.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right, it might start from the first of July. That would be wonderful to find out that soon.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Wouldn't it?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, she's ready to go ahead.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
This doesn't in any way . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, there's a microphone in there, but there's one in here, so . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, I see, so we are all right.

Page 2
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Will this pick up your question?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I think that this will pick up.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think so, because it picked up our . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When there were three of us.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, when there were three here.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. One thing, the interview that I referred to that I didn't get to record, but that I did have, was with Eleanor Easely.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, yes, I know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And it was really, really very interesting. I thought she would have been in a particularly good situation to observe women over the last 40 years.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Indeed. And she herself is a very able woman. With insight.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. Well, I walked in and she said, again, "You want to know about women? Well, I tell you, I think that women have missed their century." She said that she thought that women were likeda little boy that wanted to be a chariot driver, or they were like the leghorn chicken that was killed because it couldn't produce eggs or the male calf that they kill for veal. And she said that she was very worried, because as sex typing became more and more possible, they had done a survey and two-thirds of the people they had surveyed wanted to have male children. And it was very pessimistic. She said that women had missed their roles, their role is to bear children and child-bearing is no longer important, so women are out of it.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
This was her concept? A woman's role is to bear children?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And up until this century, child-bearing was . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, in any culture in the world, a mother would be proud to say that she had two or three sons. This would give her status. In any culture in the world.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Including our own.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. And sons you see, not daughters, but sons. Now, in some African

Page 3
tribes, the daughter is more valuable than the son, as you know . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In a matriarchial society . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Because of dowery, you see. A daughter is a means for a father to become wealthy. If she's a comely, likely girl, his bride price will be higher. The dowery is higher if . . . and the father gets to keep the money. The dowery doesn't go to the husband, but comes to him, you see, the father. If she has some education, the dowery is higher than if she spoke only the tribal language.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But what about her view? In your articles, I find a totally different tone, I don't find a pessmistic tone at all?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I'm not pessimistic.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see you viewing it as almost a steady progression.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, of course, I do not believe in progress per se, that it's automatic.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
As time goes, so goes progress.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. I don't . . . you see, this has been a false concept, I think, of western scholars for the last hundred years. That progress is automatic. It isn't automatic. We can have regressions and go back to almost the dark ages.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And in American history during the last century, we have periods of . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. Indeed.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . of regression.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I remember coming back from the Myrda study. We had been going through the data on racial ideology and had been getting more and more the idea that both whites and blacks, black scholars and white scholars, thought that just given a number of years, maybe a hundred, then the blacks would be equal to the whites and that this was an inevitable law. That nothing could hold this back. That there would be no retrogression. At a party at the Spruil's, Corydon and Julia Spruil, we were . . . people were saying, "Well, what are you doing on the Myrda

Page 4
study? What's this all about, the study of the Negro in America? Why do you want to waste your time with that?" From that, I drew the conversation into one on the concept of progress and made the statement that I had, since my studies in the last six months in regard to racial ideologies, I had come to reject the idea of automatic, inevitable progress. And that I thought there was no such thing. Mouths flew open. And I was pleased to hear a year later that Corydon Spruil had said the same thing. In a speech that he had made to . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He picked right up on that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I've always liked Cordon Spruil. He's such a gentle person. And a thoughtful person. I've always liked him, but then I began to respect him as a scholar. [laughter] When I had converted him, but then, of course, he might have been converted already. He might have thought of this all by himself, but I know how horrified most of the people were in the room.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, had you found up until the Myrdal study and your looking into racial ideologies, that this was engrained in your own upbringing?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In your own historical training?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, yes. Yes. In all the courses that I had had, except in the field of history, where professors didn't delve much in philosophy, or in concepts, this was a part of the teaching. Sociology, psychology, courses in the government.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The longer we've had, the better we've been.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. But I do believe that the doors are opening now to women, so that, more than ever before . . . of course, this is not to say that there wasn't a great deal of freedom for women in colonial American and pioneer America; because men and women were obliged to be equal, especially in work.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, work was centered in the home, and women were in the home, and men

Page 5
were in the home.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, the women were in the field.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. Or, I was thinking in terms of craftsmen, where they had a shop right off the house.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes. Yes. The craft was in the home. No one . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No one went away . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, have we just been saddled with the nineteenth century and what happened in the nineteenth century.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
With the industrial revolution and that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes indeed.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
A couple things that I wanted to talk about, one was the woman's suffrage movement in the early twenties or in the teens, the early twentieth century, as compared to the women's movement now and the relation both times to abolitionism and civil rights. Don't you see the women's movement now as sort of an outgrowth of the concern of civil rights in the '60s.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Whereas before, it was very closely related. And yet, before, in the South, I think, didn't it twist and people who were ploying to get the vote as a way to fight with the Negro, as a way to . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
To keep the Negro down?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
To make the South more solid.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, to keep the Negro in his place. I remember being a speaker at the Southeastern meeting of the American Association of University Women at Myrtle Beach, in, oh, maybe it was 1948, and I was asked to speak on the role of the southern woman. It was a panel. I made a statement to the affect that . . . you see, I had already participated in the Myrdal study and had already written

Page 6
my history of racial ideology. I said, "Southern women should certainly know and understand the movement of the Negro, the desire of the Negro or equal opportunities. The Southern woman should understand what the staus of the Negro is, because her status has always been somewhat comparable." And there was this intake of breath, gasping in the audience. And a southern woman, of course, was the panel director, (Dr. Rosamond Boyd) professor of sociology at Winthrop College in South Carolina. And she could not carry on the panel from there. She wanted to discuss this startling statement that had just been made, and she received almost no discussion from the floor. The women had gone into shock. The very idea of comparing a white woman, the status of the white woman, with the Negro in the South! It was an outrageous idea. It was an affront. And yet, this was very true. You know, this writer from Connecticut, who wrote anonymously in the 1840's, during the Bloomer Movement had made this statement. That the status of the southern slaves is superior to the status of the southern woman, which was cause for southern newspapers to rise up in editorials of outrage. But he documented it. I have never taken the time to find out who wrote this article. It was published in part in the Raleigh newspapers and I was able to read most of it there and then, of course, I found it in pamphlet form in the Schomburg Collection when I was doing work there for the history of racial ideology.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were speaking almost one hundred years later?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. And people were still shocked.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did the meeting resolve?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
There was just this panel and Dr. Boyd, Rosamond Boyd, went on with the panel after throwing out the idea of "let's discuss this point." And there were a few scattering remarks and then we adjourned for luncheon and I was practically shunned. Just my very good friends from North Carolina who hovered around me, knowing that I really was not that bad, to sort of protect me, and

Page 7
the other women shunned me. This was an affront to them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, in the early suffragist movement, there was very little connection between black women and white women.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh none whatsoever. I'm quite sure. Now, I was growing up in Texas at that time, and there were not very many Negros in Texas. I think that my grandparents had perhaps the only couple, Negro couple, living in their back yard, when I was a little girl in Wolfe City, Texas, where I was born. And in Greenville, we were living there at the time of the movement for votes for women. My father had a black janitor who was almost white. And I think that there were not very many Negro families in Greenville, which was a little town of about ten thousand. And not thirty miles away, in a little town called Josephine, Negros were not allowed to live.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In the town at all.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, not at all.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, perhaps in the population of the county, you might find blacks living in the county.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
You might, but there were not very many working on the farms. Now, my grandfather had three farms and his tenants were all white. His laborers were entirely white. There were very few Negros, even thought this was the so-called old plantation section of Texas, the part of Texas that was very closely allied with the concepts of the South.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, you were in a very different dsituation from say southern Georgia . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Or say Mississippi. My grandfather had left Mississippi when he was just, right after the Civil War, 1875, something like that. Because he wanted to get away from the horrors of Reconstruction. And he was so aghast at the way that the blacks were being treated, shot down in the streets for nothing, no offense. He said that he did not want to bring his children up in such an atmosphere and he moved to Texas, Northeast Texas, in the blackland area.

Page 8
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, he was able to get out of it then.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But your mother was very active in the suffragist movement.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Mother was in a very quiet way, because after all, she had four children, five children at that time, and domestic help only once a week. She had someone to come in and do the laundry and the ironing and perhaps clean the house once a week, so she was very busy with her children. But she encouraged her three daughters, she had three girls in a row, and we were in our early teens and later teens, and she encouraged us to do everything that we could to attend the meetings, listen to what was being said, talk to women . . . uh, men who could vote . . . [laughter] . . . to vote for the amendment. And we had just within our block, two influential men. One was later in the Supreme Court of Texas and the other was a county judge and a political boss.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How were they reacting? Were they supportive?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes they were. Both of them were supportive. They had daughters of their own and intelligent wives and, yes, they were in favor of it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, there wasn't a lot of opposition to a respectable woman like your mother being involved in this sort of thing, sending her daughters out to campaign.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, no. No opposition whatsoever; that is, none that I was aware of. There might have been some, which never reached our ears. But Mother was thoroughly in favor of the amendment. In fact, I think that she was one of the original feminists. And had a great ambition for her daughters. She had four daughters and one son . . . very ambitious for her daughters to receive as much education as possible and to go into a profession and to be self-supporting economically. This was her great ambition.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was reflected in your early article that came out in '24, '25 . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I have not read that article since it was published and Anne Scott told me when we were on the Status Commission. She said, "I'm sure that you do

Page 9
not feel now as you did when you wrote that article." And I said, "I wouldn't have the faintest idea, because I haven't read the article since 1924, or '25."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, you were stressing very much that women should be economically independent.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Was I? Well, it was right out of my mother's mouth.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then you raised a lot of questions and, of course, there weren't answers and still aren't answers for most of them. As far as how women are going to become economically independent and how women are going to combine child bearing and a career and the problem also of laboring class women, as opposed to professional women. This is a problem that you must have wondered about a lot, as far as you relate any kind of uplifting for women. Because for women in the laboring class to be able to stay home is very good, whereas middle class women now are trying to get out of the home. So, do you see any more resolutions? In your 1965 article, you go further.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Did you read the '65 article?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that the day care movement has, will be the answer. It's the way that Sweden has solved the problem for the laboring class woman. The woman who goes out and must spend eight hours a day and, say, she has a six week old baby. She has no choice but to go back to her job. I think in Sweden you get three months off after the birth of a child . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then you can put it in a center.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. But I went back to work after my second child was born, in six weeks. And felt quite competent to go back to work. This was not true when my first child was born, I needed at least three months to recover from the birth of a first child, especially a very large child. But doesn't Russia allow three?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Russia I think, allows something like three months.

Page 10
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
China not so much, but of course, the Chinese peasant woman would work in the field until two minutes before birth, then go inside and have the baby and come on back and pick up her work in the field. You'll find in some African tribes that this is just about what happens, especially in the very primitive areas of Africa.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then other women in the area care for the child.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Older women.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Older women.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In Israel . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Except in Africa, you know, the African mother takes the baby with her on her back when it is just about two weeks old.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
There would have to be some immediate care right after it was born.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Yes, the older women, usually they or the girls. Depending upon whether it's a matriarchial or a patriarchial society, the mother or the mother-in-law would take charge of the new born infant.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, how did you work caring for your children and having such an active career.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Someone asked me soon after our first son was born, first child was born, how it was that I managed to work and take care of the baby. I said, "He's a very good child, a very well child. I could not afford to have a sick baby."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He had to be strong. [laughter]
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And this statement was received with shock. "What would you do if your baby was sick. What a horrible statement!" Especially "for an educated woman like you to make, that you ‘can't afford to have a sick child.’" I said, "Well, you have no sense of humor, do you?" I had competent black maids whom I chose carefully and I insisted upon, I was working only half time, although the job

Page 11
amounted to almost full time work. You know, there is no such thing as a half time job . . . I would bathe the baby and feed the baby and go to the office and work until noon. Come home for lunch, feed the baby and go back to the office and by the time that the baby woke up around four, I would come back home and feed the baby and then bring home work from the office and work until after dinner until eight or nine or ten o'clock, feed the baby. Sometimes work until one or two o'clock. I was in the Institute for Research in Social Science and both Dr. Odum and . . . I started to say Dr. Jocher who sometimes did supervisory work, but never any of my work, at least she was there checking the hours that you come. They were very understanding and so long as I produced research and chapters, they did not seem to object.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, you were in the Institute the whole time that your children were small?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, when both children were born.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then when you went to New York, you took them with you?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
When we went to New York, I took my cook-maid with me and we had an apartment. The Carnegie Foundation found us an apartment with a room and bath for a live-in maid. She was there. When Edward, who was then six, developed a streptococcic infection at Christmastime, and there were no antibotics at that time, he became quite ill, I didn't want to go away and leave him, because I knew that Rheumatic fever was often the aftermath of streptococcic infection and I wanted to be sure that he was kept in bed and quiet. And so, I and he would not obey our long time cook and maid. In fact, he commanded her, rather than her commanding him. And so, I got a white friend from North Carolina to come to be my general manager. She and Edward got along beautifully. She nursed him through this illness without any bad effects whatsoever. Later on, he developed Scarlet fever and she, fortunately, was there so that I could keep on

Page 12
with my work, working eighteen hours a day in the last stretches.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, what kind of person was she? Was she a widow, or . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, she was a widow, with grown married children and grandchildren.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, she was free to come.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, actually she was Mrs. J.A. Warren's aunt. Mrs. Warren's husband was treasurer of the University and we were very close to the Warren family, and Mrs. Warren's father and mother, Dr. and Mrs. J. S. Spurgeon of Hillsborough, who was a dentist, and they were our adopted grandparents when we were in North Carolina. So, she came more out of loyalty to the family. She was on vacation in Florida at the time. The snow was on the ground in New York.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, she left the sunshine.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, left the sunshine in Florida to come up and help me.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, this was one of Dr. Easley's main objections to the possibility of women combining careers and child rearing.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
They could not give the nuturing of the child.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right. And she said that it takes 15% of a woman's life to raise children, and if a woman takes 15% of active career time, then she's very far behind. Somewhere, you made the statement, it was in your early article, that if the professional woman is to suceed, her efficiency and intellectual ability will necessarily have to exceed that of the men with whom she is competing, to offset the disadvantages that childbirth brings. So, I thought that was real interesting, because the attitude as far as that goes has changed. Definitely. In that women who are equally qualified should be given positions and short of the pain of childbirth, you cope with childbirth as . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
As an incident. Right. Rather than as a major . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
A major biological handicap is what it amounted to. What about the role of the husband in all of this? How are men fitting into the changing role of

Page 13
women?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
You mean now, or back in 1924 and '25?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, both.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that before Guy and I were married, we talked this out. I said that I insisted that I continue in my profession and that he must understand this. He was perfectly willing to accept the idea. He said that he approved. We both agreed that we would want two children at least, maybe even more, and that we would meet that problem when it arose. I insisted that I must have a doctor's degree before we had any children; he agreed to that too. After Benny was born, we had a very good maid-cook-nurse, whom we had employed, and she herself had a baby. And we were confronted with the necessity of getting someone else. This was a little traumatic for Benny, who was then about a year old. And he did not adjust well to the new maid-nurse. She, I think, did not really like children, although she had insisted at the time, and the recommendations were good. But it became very obvious to us that Benny was unhappy. When we would come home at hoon, he would not eat, but would throw his plate on the floor, which was his way of demanding attention. But in the beginning, both Guy and I were confused as to why he was so unhappy, and as to why he would refuse to eat when we came home. He would cling to me when I would leave for the office, and scream. And this is characteristic of many children, even when their mothers are at home all day.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And go to the grocery store.

Page 14
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And go to the grocery store. They will scream and want to go along. So, this is what I thought it was for awhile. But in one episode, when Benny had thrown his food on the floor and had cried and screamed and refused to eat, Guy had said, "You must stay at home. This is your role. The baby needs you and you must stay at home." And I said nothing. I made no response, because I knew that I was going to keep on with my research and that I would stay at home for a few days and find out exactly what the difficulty was and then make an adjustment. This I did and got a new maid, who was very. Immediately Benny loved her and she had a son of her own about his age and was quite understanding and sympathetic. Then we lived in the Warren's backyard. We had not been able to find a house to rent after we received our doctorates and Ben Warren, the treasurer of the University, stopped me on the street one day and said, "Where are you going to live?" I said, "I don't know, Ben, Where can we live? We can't find a place in Chapel Hill." "I'll build you one,"said he. And he did, overlooking this lovely brook and spring and hillside, which is now a showplace, because he has planted thousands of azaleas and wildflowers there. And his wife,Patty, did not work. She had a daughter just a year older than Benny. So Patty, on her own,more or less assumed a mothering role, too. And was able to help out,when we needed a new servant, by taking Benny home. And I in turn mothered Caroline, I felt that Caroline was my child, too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, what kept you steadfast in being so determined to . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
To go on with my work? And knowing that I could solve the problem?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, to have your child crying and clinging to you and to have your husband saying, "This is your role," even though that was probably his own way of reacting to the problem.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, exactly.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What made you not give in?

Page 15
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, I think that there were perhaps two motivations, which I had. The first was my mother's teaching, I said that I learned from my mother that women are competent and should be self-supporting and should be recognized as intellectual human beings comparable to their husband in every way. That, perhaps, was probably the most profound influence which I had. And the second was that my family was opposed to my marrying because Guy was not very well. He had had a streptococcic infection and this terrible flu in the 1917-1918 epidemic. And almost died as a result and so he was still thin and frail and my parents felt that he would not live very long, and they investigated — sent my uncle to his doctor in Caddo Mills, a little town not far away, to find out just what the status of his health was, and his doctor had said that he would not live ten years. And, of course, they didn't want me to marry someone who would be dead in ten years. And they told me, as a way of trying to persuade me. So, I did not tell Guy. I did not want Guy to know that he was supposed to die in ten years. [laughter] And so, I felt that I wanted children, at least two, and I had to be prepared to support them and give them a college education. And I felt that if I neglected my work to take care of my child, then this would harm me professionally. I think that these were the two major motivations.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then if you had to support the children, you wouldn't be able to.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And you had to be able to.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I had to be able to support the children and give them an education, which I wanted them to have.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was a pretty fierce reason for continuing, that was . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes it was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, it was all related to economic status.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, indeed.

Page 16
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's very interesting. So much of this has been going through my mind this past weekend when I was at home visiting my mother, who I think, is a southern lady for whom I think most of the myths came true. But you can see her, in my breaking away from what she told me as a child, and it's very hard on women, who I think, have been caught and have had children and have given their life to their children and to their husband and then say, "All right, what now?" And it's just very, very difficult.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It is. You can understand why so many women in their late forties and fifties become disoriented, extremely unhappy, and need psychiatric help or at least counseling. Because it's traumatic to be needed desperately when the children are small and give perhaps three-fourths of their time to the children, chauffering the children, taking the children to music, to dance lessons, etc. and at the same time, the husband is growing professionally and growing away from the wife. Then, when the children are gone, what is there for the wife? Because she's far from understanding her husband's drives and motivations or even participating in his work or in his goals. So, there are two entities in the family situation which are separate and often conflicting.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, so many marriages break up at that point.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
There's no way back.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's true, it's quite understandable, because they've grown so far apart that it's almost, well, it is in many instances impossible, to find a way back to understanding and companionship.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
One of the interesting things, or really tragic things, I think, now, is as roles for women are opening more and more, is the economic situation and we are in a real cut-back period. We are no longer having the growth of the sixties. And you find, "Well, all right, we'll hire a woman, but we don't have any places to

Page 17
hire anyone." And I think that this is a shame. I see this in the history department now, where PhD's in history are having so much trouble getting positions and there is sort of a divided feeling among the male students. Some of them feel, "Well, I believe that this is right. I have a wife, or I have a sister who wants to have a career, so I understand." The same with the hiring of blacks. They basically believe that there needs to be some compensation for time lost. Others on the other hand, I think, feel definite resentment. And I think that it's just a shame that this had to happen at an economic, you know, a state of economic decline, rather than during a period of . . . well, wars tended to have such a tremendous impact on the role of women.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Both World War I and World War II.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It opened up jobs to women which had heretofore been closed.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
One thing I wanted you to comment on was, during World War II, when so many women went into the work force, and then after World War II, when so many women . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Dropped out.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . left the work force, but many women stayed, but then the whole growth of the feminism is halted and all the time during the fifties when . . . but this is when you were very, very active.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And was there a lot of pressure against professional women and did you feel this?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The government mounted a campaign, beginning in '47, perhaps in '46, the last of '46 and '47. I remember the stories that would come over the radio about how terrible it was for a mother to continue to work. She was needed during the war, and it was patriotic . . .

Page 18
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Whereas five years before, they had been saying that it was patriotic to work.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. That's true. It was patriotic for her to work, but now the war is over, our men are coming back and we need to give them employment and it's patriotic now for a woman to leave her job and turn it over to our war veterans. This was a concerted campaign launched by the government and supported by many state agencies. And I remember so well when I came back from my office one day in early 1947, Edward had the radio on and here was this gory story being related about the mother who had worked during the war and refused to give up her job, because she was now having some pocket change for once in her life and she wanted this money to buy extra things for the house. She really didn't need the money, but she selfishly wanted a new carpet for her living room and was staying on to work. And she suddenly had a telephone call, which said, "Your son has been killed. He has been run over by an automobile." And she rushed out and saw the mangled body of her dear child, and she said, "Oh, why didn't I stay at home and take care of my baby? Why did I, why was I so thoughtless and selfish? I want all mothers in the United States to hear my tragic story and give up their jobs." [laughter] I was furious.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, were you acquainted with anyone who was . . . you were in Atlanta?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I was in Atlanta at the time?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And were any of the state agencies there supporting it?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Not that I know of. I was not aware of it if they were. I was working very closely with all the social welfare agencies and I would have know about it if they had. No, this was a federally sponsored program. But the radio stations were carrying these gory tales. This was the emotional pressure that was being placed upon women.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Very strong emotional pressure.

Page 19
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, it worked.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It was not long after that that this thing happened to me. I was talking on the telephone, talking to Albany, Georgia. We were setting up the machinery for getting a juvenile court in operation, when the operator interrupted me and said, "Go home at once, your son has been killed, he has been run over by an automobile." I hung up the telephone and it rang again and it was Guy, saying that he had had the same call and said, "What shall we do?" I said, "I'll call the doctor and get him to the hospital and find out which hospital. Probably Wesley Long" . . . Was it Wesley Long?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Crawford Long.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Welsey Long in Greensboro. "Crawford Long hospital, he'll probably be there." It was closest to where we lived. So, Dr. Boynton was our doctor, and he said, "You come to the emergency room and we'll meet you." Well, of course, he was not dead by any means, but he did have a serious injury. But, we coped again.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But so many women yielded to the pressure and I think that pressure that was so unfair, because women were used during the war, and then to turn around and do an aboutface and say, "Go home."
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then the thing that I think is so tragic, and that you again pointed out, was that it has always been said that women worked for nothing and worked for extras.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
For the frills, which are not important.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And this went for women who were heads of households, as well as those who had husbands. This happened to you during the Depression, you said.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, it happened . . .

Page 20
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They told you to go home, because married women couldn't work.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's true. That's when Julia Spruill and I were relieved of our research jobs in the Institute. I think I told you about that in the first interview.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes. Well, what about professional work being something that is very creative, that you can you do. It's very, very time consuming, but you can do it at home; you can do it actively, you can be nearby. Isn't that . . . that doesn't answer the problems of day laborers at all.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, well I think that the only problem of the day laborer is the nursing care, the nursery schools, and the day care centers. And I'm glad to see this movement getting underway in this country. We lag far behind such countries as Sweden and England, even England, although England has by no means filled the need.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
No, but they are . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
But they are moving ahead. We are falling very much behind.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, we're behind.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, in the United States, we're falling very much behind in many areas of social welfare.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, we spent all the fifties telling people to stay home, that it was wrong to work.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.'
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, I don't know, I feel . . . I'm glad that you feel more optimistic. I was really very concerned after I talked to Eleanor Easely, because it was sort of, you know, maybe we should all give up and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh no, this is ridiculous.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, it's not a matter of really giving up, she ended by saying, "Well, I'm glad that I'm not young now. I'm glad that younger people are going to have to

Page 21
solve these problems, which I think are almost insoluable."
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, very frequently a professional woman is accused of rearing maladjusted children who are unhappy and actually hate their mothers, but this is certainly not true of our two sons. Both of them have PhD's, both of them married professional women, who have PhD's, both of their wives are working . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
. . . the older son has two children, both well adjusted, his older child is a freshman at Pomona College and is a superior student. A National Merit Scholar and his daughter is a gifted artist, we think. The grandparents may be prejudiced, but she is extremely able. Benny himself was good in artwork, but chose to take a doctorate in sociology and our younger son, who is here, has a wife, a very able, gifted wife, with a doctorate who is in the child development program here, and they have three children who are very well adjusted. All three-of course, the grandmother says proudly-are superior children, on the honor rolls. Look in the newspaper two or three days ago, and you'll see. [laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, it's all worked out well.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and it can. But of course, I think that the impossible situation arises when the husband does not approve of his wife's professional work and constantly makes her feel guilty for continuing her work or nags her, saying, "This wouldn't happen if . . . " There are always little crises in a family situation, whether you have children or not, but when there are children, there are more minor crises, and if the husband is supportive, instead of saying, "This wouldn't have happened if you had been at home. If you had not been at the office, this wouldn't have happened." You see, when Edward was struck by an automobile in Altanta, Guy never once said, "This would never have happened, if you had only been at home." He was very supportive and did not point an accusing finger at me, not once. In fact, the only time that he did was when I first, when our first

Page 22
child, as I told you, when he threw his food. He never once said again, "This is your role."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's frightening anyway, just with the first child, then coming home and what happens, whether you are there or not. A very bad situation. Or a very changing kind of situation.
When you were talking about science and technology and how it has reshaped domestic life, one thing that you mentioned was birth control and the changing sex roles, and the sex roles are really in flux at the moment. That was in '65. Do you have, have you seen any difference in the past ten years? Certainly there has been some change.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
There has been a tremendous change in woman's attitude toward her role as a housekeeper and mother and sex partner and in the amount of freedom of time which she has to pursue her own interests. Tremendously. I know that my mother, who had five children, was in constant dread that she might have a sixth or a seventh or an eighth. And this was a fear that she carried with her as long as she was in child-bearing age. And it concerned my father, too. He'd say, "I cannot feed another mouth." And you could see what this fear of childbirth, of having a large family, and what it did to a couple. It was not only true of my parents, but everybody that I knew in my small community of Greenville. And I do know that there were a great many abortions performed and that I would hear darkly hinted . . . "You know, Mary Smith went to Dallas and stayed three or four days, and she's all right now." This was saying to me that she went to Dallas to have an abortion. She had three or four children and didn't want any more.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
These were married women who had this.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, married women.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Most of the families were large?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, most of them were large. A few had only two or three, but most fo the families had five, six, seven or eight children.

Page 23
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, women were very tied down and could never get out.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes they were.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And pregnancy was so dangerous.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Oh yes. This is true. I remember when my youngest sister was born, I was fourteen and Mother said before the baby was to come, "Now, if anything should happen to me, I want you to do so and so, and your sister to do this and that, because you will have to take over my responsibility." She was facing death and making plans for what would happen if she did not come through the ordeal.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Things have changed so much.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, with antibiotics and the knowledge of more skillful child delivery, there is almost no problem. And yet look at the report of the State Department of Health and see that there are still a great many childbirth deaths, but they are blacks, women who die in childbirth. Occasionally there will be rural white women, but for the most part, it's black.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When tremendous probelms with pre-natal care are there, I think. At Duke, my husband is a med student, and so many people who come in to have their child never have any pre-natal care; they've never seen anyone.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And it's amazing that they would come to the hospital for childbirth.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Or how many don't, that's the question. Well, you cited the changing sexual roles and the changing family roles as the most traumatic problem that we would have to deal with in the next generation, and it's still there.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, it's still there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What do you think will happen to the family as a unit?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, I am very confident that the family as a unit will be maintained despite all the Cassandras who say that the family is disintegrating. I remember going, in 1924-we went to Chicago for the meeting of the American Sociological Association and we attended one of the sections on the family and three or four

Page 24
sociologists, this is 1924, three or four sociologists arose and explained why it was that the family is disintegrating and that within fifty years, it would be a temporary liason between a man and a woman, but no solid family structure would be maintained and that the United States now, that society now, should move to do something to cope with this changing pattern of family life. And only one man, and I wish I could remember his name, only one sociologist arose on the panel and said, "All of this is foolishness. Nurturing the child has been the cause for the origin of the family, the importance of nurturing the child. And this is, of course, the chief function of the family until now. It will no longer be the chief function of the family in years ahead, but the family itself will be maintained. We will still have family solidarity." And he told about Europeans, I think that he was a first generation American, about going back to Czechoslovakia to meet his family and about how immediately he felt that he had been living in that family situation all his life, although he was meeting them for the first time. He was accepted. He said, "It's this need for human companionship, and a sense of belonging which will be as important as the nurturing of the child, and even in families where there are no children, the need for companionship and the need to belong to an intimate, relevant, important group, will keep the family structure intact." I accepted what he said then, and I accept it today. I see, just in working in groups on campus, what it does to a student in a large student body, 20,000, to come into a small intimate group and to feel as though he belongs and is loved and supported by this group. I've seen this happen over and over again, so this observation that I've made, what happens to the personality of the loner student when he is welcomed into a group, makes me feel that this is a basic human need, which the family will meet.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, certainly there have been changes, I think, directly related to efficient methods of birth control, where perhaps people living together before

Page 25
marriage will occur more and more frequently, before permanent commitment is made.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, you see, trial marriage was being very much discussed in 1924, and I think this was one reason that the sociologists felt that this was the family of the future. And that the couple might not feel it important to marry. They might feel that it was important to have a flexible situation, whereby if you became bored with your partner, you would move on and find some other partner. And, of course, it probably is true-I'm sure that it is true-that we have more such situations now.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
At least more openly being done.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, that's true. It might have been done covertly. [laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Certainly on college campuses, you see this a lot.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And I don't know, I tend to see it as a short lived thing that would go on into a permanent thing, or the persons involved would move on to find other commitments. But the divorce rate is so high, which is a problem. A lot of this is directly related to women perhaps.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, very likely. Now that they feel that they have other options other than living with this man . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
With this man who has been telling them that this is your role to stay home and take care of me.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They are moving on, there is much more of a freedom to leave, I think.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that is to the good. I don't think that is a threat to the family.
That may sound contradictory, but I think that divorce should be . . . I'm so glad that Italy finally rose up . . . [laughter] I was in Italy in 1972, no, we didn't get to Italy in '72, but talking to Italian women when we were in Portugal in '72, led me to believe that Italy would vote to retain the divorce law. And you know, Germany has been very . . . I was speaking in South Africa to the South

Page 26
African Association of University Women on the Women's Liberation Movement around the world and mentioned the liberal laws that were to be voted on in Germany within the next few months and predicted that these laws would pass. And an Englishwoman married to a German scholar went home and told her husband what I had predicted and he said, "Oh no, no! She's wrong. There are no such laws being proposed." And his wife said, "Well, why don't you call her and see about it, or at least go around and talk to her?" So, he telephoned me. I knew him quite well, Philip Mayer, who was professor of anthropology there and his wife is an anthropoligist too, Iona Mayer, both very competent scholars. So, Philip called me and (in dialect) "What is going on? I'm sure you were wrong?" I said, "Wait Philip, let me get my documentation and let me read it to you." "Oh, he said, "This is astounding. The laws will never be passed. I did not know this. The laws will never be passed." I scanned all the newspapers for the next three months, and they did pass and I called Philip and said, "You see, Philip, you don't know about the Women's Liberation movement." [laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It's amazing now, I think, to see on the news the things that women have done, or a woman holding office and they invariably now ask her if this has anything to do with Women's Lib and she invariably says "No."
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Nothing. Which I think is very interesting, because many things that women do are divorced, are private, from any national movement. They want it that way.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's true. I sat by Ellen Winston at luncheon several weeks ago and she was voicing concern that fewer women are getting professional degrees and she said, "What can we do to stimulate women to go on and prepare themselves for professional work and take advantage of the doors that are opening now for professional women, despite the fact that at the moment there are too many PhD's trying to teach in colleges. I want women to go into the professions that are unrelated to

Page 27
academic work. I want more women engineers, I want women who will go into the field of chemistry and nuclear physics. What can we do?" And she and I sat there at the luncheon and thought of ways that we might try to encourage women in North Carolina and the South to go on and to make it possible. I've done what I can by starting this scholarship fund1 for women for graduate work (later changed to undergraduate) and I have one endowed scholarship which has just been given the University and I'm working on another one and serve on scholarship committee in another organization2 and encourage building those funds. Now, I don't know what else we can do, because we always have plenty of applicants for these scholarships. "Oh," she (Ellen) said, "but we need to barnstorm, go all over North Carolina and encourage high school women graduates to go into college work and then stay on for graduate work."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I think as far as women going into a different profession, as engineers, this is training that you need in high school, to have someone say, "Why don't you go into engineering." It's not in the traditional curriculum for women.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
This is very true. We are just beginning now in North Carolina to emphasize technical training in the schools. Heretofore, most of the vocational work was for automobile mechanics and farmers. That trend and then the next (other educational track) was the academic. You decided, "Am I going to be a farmer, or an automobile mechanic, or do I want to be trained for college work?" But now, since the Commission3 on the . . . let's see, it was Governor Bob Scott's commission . . . I have forgotten, because I've been on several comprehensive commissions, several public school commissions, I forget the exact title of this study of schools in North Carolina. Our task force stressed the importance of vocational training in the high schools on a high level, on a level as high as the academic level. And right now, you see in Chapel Hill, we are just now beginning to erect a building for vocational training, and it will be not on the automobile mechanic level, but on the engineering

Page 28
level, too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And including women?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, yes. All the courses will be open evenly to men and women.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Because while men were becoming automobile mechanics, women were becoming hairstylists . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. I think that very many were trained as hairstylists in the public schools of North Carolina, because they were prodded into Beauty Colleges, as they were called . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But yes, yes, that sort of thing is what I'm talking about.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, but some schools did introduce this as a great step forward—"beauty culture in the schools."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, one other thing, and then I'll quit for now. But I wanted to ask you how all the work and the importance that you put on voluntary organizations for women and the strength of these organizations and especially when they are united . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, perhaps I should tell you a secret. The reason I went into voluntary work? Now, I have always done a great deal of voluntary work. From the time I was three or four years old, I had helped my mother in Sunday School and from there I went on into other little chores, so it seems to me like all my life, I've done voluntary work. But when I came to Chapel Hill to do graduate work, Guy and I both promised each other that we would concentrate on our studies and not be tempted to get involved in volunteer activities. So, until 1937, I did nothing in community work, stuck to my job of research and my children and my home. But in 1937, I think that I already told you I was elected PTA President. Well, then I did very little volunteer work until we came back from Atlanta and I had had to resign from the history department to go to Atlanta to join Guy. And I naturally wanted to pick up with my work and went to Mr. Connor, who was head of the history department-had been head of the history department and came back as a Craig

Page 29
Professor of Political Science, or government, I believe. I said, "Look, now, I want to pick up where I left. I've talked to Dr. W.W.Pierson the Dean of the Graduate School, and he says that he is afraid that there are no openings, so what about it?" I said, "Every time I leave Chapel Hill, I get a wonderful job. When I come back to Chapel Hill, I get either a part-time job, or nobody wants me to do anything. How about this? You told me when I took my doctorate and went into history from sociology, that you would see to it that I had a good job as long as I wanted to work." He said, "Well, I'll tell you, honey . . . " in his paternalistic way . . . " I'll tell you, honey, I wouldn't want you in that history department now. There is too much bitterness and strife in that department. They are just about to kill each other over there. I wouldn't want you to get involved in that cross-fire." So, he said, "Why don't you just go on and do your own work, you haven't gotten your Racial Ideologies finished, you told me that you wouldn't let Harper and Row publish it in 1940 when it was cleared for publication, go on and finish that and by that time, I think that the situation will have cleared." Then, I went to Bob House, who was Chancellor of the University, and he had been Secretary of the Historical Commission when I started doing my research for Ante-Bellum North Carolina and had been very supportive. So, I said, "Bob, I have an interesting job in Atlanta, but now I want to come back to work here. Benny is at Harvard now". (He finished here at eighteen and went on to do graduate work at Harvard.) and I said, "He did not go on scholarship, and if we had not sold our house in Atlanta at an advantage, we would not be able to send him this one year, but I've got to be able to see him through his graduate work at Harvard. I have to work." And he said, "No, honey" — again paternalistic — "you know what happened in the spring when the board of trustees considered the motion not to let Guy return to the University of North Carolina. There is this small gang of men still on the board of trustees,4 who are determined to get rid of Guy, and they are working every

Page 30
scheme they know, and you are going to have a big job just saving Guy's professorship for him. I want you to go out and work in women's organizations and make friends with the wives of these men who hate Guy, if you do that, you'll solve the situation. And this is the only thing that will save his neck. Now, we were able to save his neck when the matter came up at the spring Board meeting, Cameron Morrison and Josephus Daniels took the floor in his behalf, and the young men who are friends of Guy's kept quiet and didn't say anything in his behalf. And you know why, because they too are afraid of these four or five powerful men who hate the Negro so much and hate anyone who is giving courses on the Negro that they are going to get Guy's neck. So you've got to go out and do this, and you have no choice. You've got to do it." And I immediately was asked to be a chairman of the Federation of Women's Clubs, International Relations Chairman, and I organized the Conference on World Affairs, called in leaders to set that up. I took an office with the state Assocation of University Women and did all. I worked as hard in these organizations as I ever did in my research and did become friends, close friends, with some of the wives, some of them, not all of them, because some of the wives never stirred out of their homes and I had no entree, but so long as I had contact with the wives of two or three of the men . . . and these women would tell me in advance what their husbands were planning.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, they were really on your side.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I immediately established rapport with them and they would say to me, "Now, you know that we do not approve". This I would not get in the group, but, individually, a woman would say, "I do not approve of what my husband is doing. I've met Guy and I like him and I know he's no Communist. I know that you are no Communist and so I'm going to do everything that I can to help you and let me tell you now that they have employed a detective or." I did not have advance warning about his being called before the Visiting Committee, which was in January or

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February of '48. Because I hadn't yet established rapport with these women. But that's the reason that I did it. And that's the reason that I haven't yet published the History of Racial Ideologies. I've been so busy. [laughter] Then I found that here was a way for women to work together and achieve power. They need power in order to get laws passed and it's been wonderful to see how women can, by working together, get bills through the legislature. And you get 500 women to write letters or get just one friend to write letters to the legislators, and the men are scared to death. They are terrified.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Afraid of being bombarded with letters . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. And let a delegation of women go up on the crucial day and just sit in the balcony, and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Isn't that amazing. That is power.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, it is power. This became a fun thing for me to see how women could shape laws, change attitudes in their local communities, simply by working together.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And this was perfectly acceptable work for women to do.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, volunteer work is woman's role.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And there was no opposition?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh no. No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Encouragement.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. I once talked to one of the men, the elder statesman in the University who had been interested in getting a state library established and an extension division of the University of North Carolina set up and various other projects related to academic affairs set up. And I said, "Tell me, what role did women play." "Oh, we made them think that they were having a part in this, but it was inconsequential. We were the ones who did all of this." And the women don't feel that way at all. Now this was before my day, of course, before I came to North Carolina, but I've talked to two women who were involved in promoting

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legislation creating the state library, legislation establishing the extension division of the University of North Carolina, who say, "If we had not written the letters, if we had not gone to the legislature when these bills were pending, they never would have passed. We cornered our legislators. I stopped so-and-so in the middle of the church aisle to tell him that if he didn't vote for that bill for a state library, I would never vote for him again." But a few of the men think that women's [volunteer work is] "trivial, trivial." This is the same man who said that no woman was worth more than $125 a month. [laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, as I was going through the things that you have written, I was really surprised, I came to your book on community service, and I was trying to relate that to the importance of economic independence and I fell flat on my face.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, it's very contradictory, isn't it?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, it doesn't lead to economic independence.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, not at all.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But to political power, social power, yes. Economic power, no. I understand much better now.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Of course, this assignment to write Volunteers was a job, was an assignment, which I felt that I had to do for the women of the state with whom I had worked, in order to justify their spending all these hours that I had urged them to spend in behalf of community service. And it was the first big project that the Council of Women's Organizations had. We got a grant from the North Carolina Fund to do the research and publish the book. It wasn't something that I was very interested in doing, except as a justification for my asking them to work and work hard. And I was able, through working in volunteer organizations and giving my time as a volunteer, to be able to pick up the telephone and call key women in the state, and, of course, I knew this state much better than I had known it in writing Ante-Bellum North Carolina. I wish that I had had the information that

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I have now before I started working on Ante-Bellum North Carolina, because I could have picked up on many items that I dropped as being inconsequential.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Such as?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, I would have spent more time on folklore and superstition, for example, and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Because it directly concerns the
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and I would have perhaps written one chapter on leading women in the ante-bellum period, instead of just dismissing it. Because I would have gone into family records and traveled over the state and learned more about various women. It was a woman who was able to get the state to set up a hospital for the mentally ill, the Dorthea Dix Hospital. This occurred in the ante-bellum period and she, on her death-bed, urged her husband to vote for the measure and he arose, when the bill was about to go down the drain, and made this emotional appeal, "This is a promise that I made to my dying wife." You see how important this woman was, Dorthy Dix had convinced her of how important this was. Well, Dorthea Dix had come to North Carolina to promote the hospital and made many friends among the women of the state.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, really, as far as voluntary organizations are concerned, that is where you meet, that's one thing about this project, when Jackie Hall started talking about it, that they had done a project in California they had done a study of women in the suffragist movement. In the South, you really can't do women who were involved in the suffrage movement, because so few were actively involved. You don't get as many people and that's why she came up with Women After Suffrage.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think it was not widespread, [the legislative worked] women in North Carolina. Now, I think that Texas women, a great many Texas women were involved, but in North Carolina, it was not the thing to do, and, have heard a number of the older women who were

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actively involved in the suffrage movement tell me about how they had to fight their husbands in order to go out and speak for the amendment and about how their married lives were forever unhappy after that, because their husbands were so bitterly opposed to women's vote.5 This is to me extremely interesting, but there were women in North Carolina who were dedicated. Now, the Federation of Women's Clubs did lead and the quickly organized League of women Voters, which quickly disbanded after the amendment was passed. They led the movement for the amendment, but they did know how to campaign. They did not know how to marshal the power and the forces of women to get the legislation passed. This is something that we have learned later.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was so new, they had no experience.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's true. And heretofore, they had been acting as individuals, but for women to band together . . . I think that perhaps the Federation of Women's Clubs laid the groundwork, 1902 was when the Federation was formed. Read Sally Southall Cotton's book on the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs, a little thin book. There are several instances where she takes time to tell about the work that the Federation did in behalf of the amendment. This is interesting, I'm so sorry that Gertrude Weil has died, because she was one of the leaders.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Of the Federation of Women's Clubs?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And leaders in the fight for the amendment. She worked quietly perhaps harder than almost any other woman for the legislation, which failed to pass. But still, as Gertrude has said to me many times- (and I must say that Gertrude has supported my efforts in behalf of mobilizing woman-power in North Carolina, on behalf of legislation that would make it possible for women and children to have better opportunities to acheive self fulfillment within the state community). She has given money for my efforts in the World Affairs Conference, and she gave money for the Council of Women's Organizations. And I remember that I was speaking

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for the Business and Professional Women's Club in Goldsboro one March, and a heavy snow came. Now, Gertrude had written me that she wanted to talk to me. But this heavy snow came, and I thought that the meeting would be cancelled, but it was not, and with great difficulty, Johnny Chase, Mrs. John B. Chase's son, drove me to Goldsboro to make the speech. His mother was chairman of the program committee at the time and I was speaking because she had asked me. When we went into the Goldsboro Hotel, I saw sitting erectly, Miss Gertrude Weil, who came forward to see me, although she was probably 86 or 87 at the time. She had got out in the snow to hear me and to talk to me briefly, and all she wanted to say to me was, that "If there is ever any money that you need for one of your projects, you let me know."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, did she do any writing?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, she did not. One of her relatives is doing a biography of her. It has not been published, but if you are at all interesting in finding out about it, Elmer Gettinger in the Institute of Government would know about it, because he brought the girl around, who was a graduate student at Wellesley or Smith or someplace, to interview us as a part of her study. And we have not heard from her since. So, I don't know what the result has been.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, that's interesting, let's stop where we are now, if it's all right with you.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
END OF INTERVIEW
1. The North Carolina Women's Scholarship Fund, 1957.
2. The Sallie Southall Cotten Scholarship, N.C. Federation of Women's Clubs.
3. Commission on the Study of the Public School System of North Carolina.
4. John and David Clark, B. B. Everett, (John?) Lassiter of Snow Hill, and Robert Satterfield of Roxboro were the leaders.
5. Hope Summerel Chamberlain, for example.