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Title: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 28, 1974. Interview G-0029-3. 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: 232 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 and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-13, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 28, 1974. Interview G-0029-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0029-3)
Author: Mary Frederickson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 28, 1974. Interview G-0029-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0029-3)
Author: Guion Griffis Johnson
Description: 228 Mb
Description: 52 p.
Note: Interview conducted on May 28, 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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An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, May 28, 1974.
Interview G-0029-3. 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:
Well, this past week when I went to the Institute in Raleigh for the Archives thing, I met a friend of yours, I believe . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Mattie . . . [unclear] Edwards?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Parker . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes Parker is her married name. I knew her as Mattie Edwards.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She gave a speech at one of the sessions on her colonial records work.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then there was a party afterwards, and I ended up sitting next to her and talked to her a little bit and told her about the project. And she said, "Well, I'm basically against women's studies, black studies." Then I explained a little bit more about it and about Jackie's interests being a little bit broader than women's studies per se . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, than just women . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . and she kind of came round and thought it might be an interesting thing to pursue. But she has had an interesting career.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, she has.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The scholarship and the work that she has done is really first-rate.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes it is. Yes, she's excellent. I've been very fond of her. I knew her sister, too, quite well, and let her sister live with us for awhile, because she was Mattie Frma's sister. We had this room downstairs as a guest room. We let her have the guest room for, oh, about half a year and enjoyed her very

Page 2
much.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now, was her sister also in academic work?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
She was a public school teacher, and she was coming to upgrade her certificate.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, I see, so she was working at the University.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, she was teaching here in the public school system, and taking some courses, too. But she was teaching in the elementary school.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, she was talking about trying to get her graduate work done right in the throes of the Depression . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's true.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How hard it was, how money was cut off, and worked a year at Radcliffe and then had to come home.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's right. She is related to the Houses. You know, Bob House was the Chancellor of the University for a great many years and it was actually through the Houses that I met Mattie Frma.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, she has some interesting stories about working at Meredith and about working around the state and was, I think, really in her prime in her work with the Archives and the project that she did there. It was interesting to meet her. She suggested that it would be interesting to do a project studying . . . and Jackie said that a project like this had been done . . . taking her class in say, 1925 from Greensboro and then take succeeding classes in '35, '45, '55 and on.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I think there have been a number of studies like this. Radcliffe has done one. They followed up on Mimi, our older son's wife, who is a graduate of Radcliffe; took her doctorate there. And Mimi was a part of a study done by Radcliffe. And I think that Vassar has done the same thing, perhaps Smith. It has been done especially in women's colleges.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And in the Northeast.

Page 3
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, in the Northeast rather than . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I can't think of one that has been done in the South, but . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, I can't either.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But it would be interesting to compare the South with the Northeast.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. Randolph Macon may have done something like this. Gladys Coates would know, Mrs. Albert Coates.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, I'll have to check on that, I'm not sure. I'm not sure which ones Jackie had in mind, she just said that some had been done. But another thing, they mentioned . . . you had talked about Gertrude Weil last time, and they said, when they were introducing the different collections that they have . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
They have hers?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They have hers. In fact, they named it as one of the most complete and one of the most exciting that they have.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Miss Weil would do that, would keep everything.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, apparently, her mother made them write home once a week when they were in college and her mother was the real saver and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
. . . kept all the . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . everything. Then, she lived at home for quite awhile, and her mother, I guess kept a lot of her things. So, they said that it is just a really exciting collection.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I'm sure that it is.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
A very complete collection of what was going on and they said that she was so tremendously active.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's very true. I'm so delighted to know that her papers have been kept.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It was really amazing in the way that they presented it. You know, it

Page 4
wasn't just a sketchy thing, it really is one of their best collections. And they mentioned that this relative of hers was still working on the biography. She has been there searching through the papers.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
We suggested when she came here to interview us that she look through Miss Gertrude's papers, and she said that she had. She said, "I have, but I haven't found anything, "so, evidently, the letters were in the attic or the basement and must not have been disturbed.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They must not have been, because they said that she had been there quite a bit.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Good. Yes, she found . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She must have found a real gold mine. Well, one thing, when I was going back over the transcript from . . . it wasn't last week, I didn't mean to say that . . . I mean from last time, we talked about the idea that you had suggested that Southern women should know and understand about the movement of the Negro and what the Negro wanted, because they had comparable status over a period of time in this country.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was wondering . . . that wasn't at all a widespread idea, as you said, with the horror that your speech was met . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Or the reception that your suggestion met with at that meeting. But I was wondering why you and Guy came out with these ideas at the time that you did. We talked a little bit about your background as far as women were concerned, your mother's ideas about education, but what about the idea of . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Regarding the Negro, and the status of the Negro?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that I gained respect for the status of the Negro and the Negro

Page 5
as an important member of the human race, from my father and my grandfather.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You mentioned that your grandfather had moved to Texas to get away from the horrors of Reconstruction and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. And there came with him a Negro couple, and he built a house for them in his back yard, and I knew them as Old Aunt Anne and Old Uncle Tom and loved them dearly. And then, there were only a few Negro families in Wolfe City where I was born, but they were somehow related to our family through employment or just through general affection. And across the street from us lived my father's father, who was, who fought for the North. So, he had a very high respect for the Negro and would speak of him as a "lamp-black white man." And my father had the same . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Where were they from?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
From Ohio. My father was born in Ohio.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. And then his father had fought in the Civil War on . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, in the Civil War on the Northern side.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . as a Yankee. [Laughter]
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
As Yankee, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did he ever come to Texas?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It was a rather sad family situation. His mother had died and his father had remarried a rather wealthy woman with two or three children of her own. Now, my father was the fifth or sixth in a family, no, he was probably the fourth in a family of six. And the only son. The children were very upset about . . . this was my father's grandfather, remarrying and in his will, he left all of his property to his second wife. And my ancestors set up the first tannery for the manufacture of shoes in Ohio. You know, at one time, Ohio was the center of shoe manfucturing, and still is to a certain extent. So, . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They had done quite well.

Page 6
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and after this, my grand father felt that he was destitute, since he would inherit none of his father's property, and he was very bitter toward his father and his stepmother and came to Texas. So, it was the result of a family situation that brought him from Ohio to Texas.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
To get away and start over, and all that.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Then, how was he employed in Texas?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I simply do not know, I don't know what he did. [Laughter] Perhaps nothing.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But he and your father weren't in business together?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, no. Because to me, he seemed to be very old, much older than my mother's father. He might not have been. I remember him as a very tall, handsome man. An unusually handsome man. But he didn't seem to need to work. He had his pension as a Yankee soldier, and some other additional income. And I remember him simply sitting on the front porch rocking.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was your father's occupation?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
My father owned a hardware store in Wolfe City.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then you said that they moved to Greenville?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, this was so, and he had a much larger hardware store in Greenville. And he felt that we needed to get a better education than in the little town of Wolfe City, which had about twelve hundred inhabitants. But it was a very happy little community. Everyone knew everyone else, and was highly respected. My father was on the schoolboard and in the little local town council, and my grandfather of course, was very prominent . . . that is, my grandfather Stephens. I think that I told you that he had the desire to educate every rural boy and girl in the county who wanted an education and could not afford to get one. And he did send many boys and girls away to Burleson College, or Wesley College, two little junior colleges

Page 7
in Greenville. And then on to Baylor University. One never thought of sending a student to the University of Texas, because that was a very wicked place, where atheist were in control. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Baylor is Baptist, isn't it?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, Baylor is Baptist.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And very strict, wasn't it?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It has been for a long time, I don't think that it is now. You will be interested to know that Mr. Jaworski and Guy were in the same class, the same graduating class at Baylor. So, Baylor has turned out a great many scholars and leaders. Wright Patman is another product of Baylor University.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's very interesting.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
But Baylor was very conservative, fundamentalist for a long time. And this turned Guy off from being a minister. He thought at one time that he would be a minister and when he went to Baylor, he was so turned off by the rigid fundamentalism in the department of religion, that he immediately moved into sociology and gave up all thought [of being a preacher].
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I remember seeing the tremendous Bible building . . . I was on the campus once, and there is some kind of Bible Society building or something that is a most formidible structure on the campus.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Also, they were very strict. I stayed in the dorm there just for a weekend..
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Did you?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And they were very strict about wearing slacks outside of the dormitory, and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Were they?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was in late '68 or '69.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Really! Still very strict?

Page 8
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They were strict in comparison to what other places were requiring at that time.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I went to Baylor College, which was forty miles away . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was the women's college.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That was the women's college, yes. And I returned in '73, no, '71, I'm forgetting my dates . . . '73 for the Texas High School Press Association celebration and my own graduation [71], and there were girls in slacks all over the campus.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I would guess that this was right before it broke down. Because there were, that was late for such things, but they were very strict about their rules.
What about the prevailing attitude when you were at Burleson and then again later when you were at Baylor, as far as . . . there were no Negroes in the colleges?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh no, no. I'd like to illustrate one point about how keenly my father felt about giving the Negro an opportunity to participate as a full citizen in the community. He had a very competent Negro janitor in his hardware store in Greenville. And the janitor had two almost white children, although his wife was also what I call a "white Negro." And I think that both of the children had blue eyes, very fair skin and blondish, frizzy hair. And there was no way that they could get any instruction in music which he wanted very much for his children. He talked to my father about it and my father said, "If you would like to send your children to my house, I have one daughter who is taking violin and she will give one or both daughters violin lessons, and then I have another daughter who is taking lessons in speech. I think that it is very important for a good citizen to stand on his own feet and know how to express himself. So, if you would like for them to take speech and violin, I'll be delighted to speak to my daughters and see if they would teach them and I'm sure they will be very happy." He spoke to us, my sister was the violinist and I was the speech major and we were charmed to

Page 9
have these very attractive black children come and we taught them what we knew. And my father said, "Now, you will have your classes in the living room, and you will give them punch and cookies or whatever they want to drink, afterwards. Because I want them to enjoy their work and I want them to feel relaxed. And I want you to treat these children as if they were your brother and sister." One was a boy and one was a girl. So, this went on for months and months, and perhaps years, I don't remember just how long, but it was a situation that we enjoyed and the two Negro children seemed to enjoy it very much. We heard nothing from my mother, who very gradually came to accept my father's position.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, it was definitely your father, rather than your mother.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, although my mother's father, who had been a soldier in the Confederate Army, was also very liberal.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And he was the one who had left Mississippi?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, he was the one who left Mississippi.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, was there any feeling in a town that small, as far as your father's ideas and your grandfather's, was there any . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
If that's true, I was not aware of it. I was not aware of it in Greenville, either. Because the children came very frankly in the front door, and there was no attempt to close the windows so that the neighbors would not know that we were giving these children lessons in violin and speech.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But no other music teachers in town would open their doors . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's true. They wouldn't accept them as pupils.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the school situation at that time?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
They were segregated, a small, very small school.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But predominately public . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, yes, public schools. Yes. The children were very grammatical. Unmistakably they were upper class. The father and mother were well trained and

Page 10
the mother became a teacher in the segregated school. All her husband could do was janitorial work, although my father trusted him very much. He waited on the customers; he did more than janitorial work. He actually employed him as a clerk.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Which was a step up.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And unheard of. I'm sure that his store was the only one in town that had a Negro clerk. But I was not aware of animus against us because of our attitude.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I want to talk about that later, but you certainly did feel such pressure later when you and Guy were so active.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
But only in North Carolina. And Georgia. Not in Texas. When we would go back to visit our relatives, we would hear some repercussions, especially after 1954 and the Court decision. And my mother's cousin-in-law, who was a doctor and who owned one of the two hospitals in Greenville, was very reactionary.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And was upset? By repercussions, you mean that they would approach you and tell you . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes, and I remember once that the cousin whom we called Cousin Van came to call when Guy and I had come for a visit, and she began denouncing the Supreme Court decision and speaking in vitriolic terms about the Negro. I knew better than to say anything, just to sit back and listen, but Guy could not tolerate her opinion, and said something in a quiet way, something very mild like, "I'm sorry, I can't agree with you. I think you're wrong." And got up and left the room, whereupon my father followed him and said as he was leaving, "I like that boy Guy." [Laughter] My mother was horribly embarassed.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Keeping peace in the family. [Laughter]
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
She scolded my father and Guy later, saying, "Now you know Van, you know how reactionary she is. She was a guest in our house and you did not have to insult her."

Page 11
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The thing that amazes me, though, is that guests can often come in and attack you and you . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
You are supposed to . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I'm amazed at what people will tell you. [Laughter] I mean, really, it's just amazing to me, it always has been. How they will attack your political opinion, but will be quite haughty if you attack theirs. Well, then, when you left home, you left with pretty much a set idea, a pattern that you were going to maintain through to the present?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
This is true, that "women must be economically independent and must train themselves so that they will be competent to hold down important jobs and get good salaries. And that the Negro is a human being equal in capacity to the white man. He has been held in subjegation and has not been given the opportunity to develop his skills. Given the opportunity to develop his skills, he will show that he is comparable to the white man in native ability and ability to achieve."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
While you were still at home, what about disenfranchisement, what about voting? Do you remember?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Of course, they could not vote, and you remember I told you last week that there was a small community about twenty miles from Greenville, where Negroes were not allowed to live.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Josephine, Texas, I think you said.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's right, Josephine, Texas. So, that I was aware of discrimination, but it didn't touch me, because of my father's attitude, my grandfather's liberal attitude and because there were very few Negroes in Hunt County, where we lived.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But as far as your father . . . there really wasn't a platform for him to speak on as votes, it was pretty much by that time, very, very firm.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Solidified in the structure of the state.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well then, when you left and went to Burleson and went to Baylor . . .

Page 12
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, you see, Burleson was in Greenville, so that I stayed at home.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were at home then?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So then, when you went to Baylor, what was the feeling there?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
One never thought about the Negro. The Negro was never mentioned.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's very interesting. I talked to Dr. Bell Wiley about studying under Philips, and I said, "Didn't it come out about this equality business?" "No, it didn't come up." No one talked about it.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, no. Whereas in my classes here, especially in Dr. Hamilton's class . . . Hamilton Hall [Laughter] . . . he would spend much time talking about the inferiority of the Negro, and in attempting to indoctrinate the members of his class about it. He often said, "As a child, the Negro is very bright and seems to give promise of development, but his mind freezes at the age of twelve. And he never develops beyond the age of twelve." This was the old antebellum concept and Dr. Hamilton believed it sincerely. Once in class, he said to me, "What do you have to say for the Sociology Department, when the head of the Sociology Department, Dr. Howard Odum, arose last night in Memorial Hall and introduced Dr. Charles Johnson from Fiske University as one of the distinguished Americans of our time? What have you to say for a statement like that?" "I was furious with him! For challenging me, because Dr. Odum had introduced Charles Johnson as a distinguished American. Dr. Hamilton had very conspicuously arisen from that meeting and walked out when Dr. Odum had made this introduction. And so the next day, he attacked me in class. And I responded, "I am not here to defend anything that Dr. Odum does. I am here to study the Reconstruction Period in Southern history." Which was what the class was. And there was a dead silence. You could hear a pin drop.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why had he attended?

Page 13
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I don't recall the specifics. It seems to me that there was a panel discussion on the changing South, and that Dr. Odum was chairman of the panel and that Charles Johnson was one of the panel members. This is the way I recall it. It may have been quite different, but this is the way that I recall it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It's surprising that he would attend, knowing . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, knowing that a black man was to be one of the panelists.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, when you got up here, was it very different from what you had experienced . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were kind of deposited in the middle of . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I wrote a number of letters about the tremendous differences that I found here, and I was very unhappy here, because I found that I had been in a very free situation at Baylor College for women, where the entire faculty stressed the importance of education of women, and the importance of women training themselves not only in the home (We had an excellent home economics course, which my parents required me to take, and I loathed it, I felt that I already knew all I needed to know about cooking and sewing and taking care of the house and budgeting the family money) but not only home economics, but in every phase of work open to women.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, certainly your work in journalism was very new when you were going into it and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. So that I had an excellent—I felt that I was completely free and I was getting one of the top salaries, even though I was only 21 or 22. I was getting one of the top salaries on campus. And I felt that the sky was the limit.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, how old was the Baylor College for Women?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
1845. Founded in 1845.

Page 14
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why was it so different? Or was the attitude at Greensboro much the same? That it was a women's college . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that because it was a woman's college, and then the president of the woman's college, a native of Mississippi, Dr. John Hardy, had two daughters of his own, and he was very much in favor of the education of women and the development of the capacities of women and the citizenship roles that women should play. He had daily chapel, and we were required to attend and we were given assigned seats and there was monitoring. I resented going to chapel, but I have since realized the importance of his extemporaneous speeches on the abilities of women to achieve.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He spoke on this?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Everyday, practically everyday. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, comparing what Mrs. Parker said this past weekend about Greensboro College for Women, she said that the prevailing attitude when she was there was that "we are getting a good education and it is our duty to use it." The goal was not to marry and settle down. It was to use your education.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's right. You know the old slogan that Dr. McIver, the president of Women's College adopted . . . "Educate a man and you educate a citizen; educate woman and you educate a family. And the world." That's not the exact quotation, but it's close. So, this was his concept and I think that he, too, arose in chapel every morning and . . . I know that they had required chapel at WC as well as at Baylor College. And I'm sure that he indoctrinated the women.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, it's interesting that these particular men felt the way that they did, and then that at the same time, you ran up against some pretty hardy characters that felt the other way, when you came to UNC.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, this is true.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It would be interesting to know, or to see, what their backgrounds were that

Page 15
made them so different.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think that perhaps one of the reasons was that the presidents of women's colleges felt that they did not have as prestigious positions as the president of a co-educational school, or a school for men and that they were somehow trying to justify their holding their positions, and that their concept of the education of women, and the importance of women, was more or less thrust upon them as an ego device.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
They had vested interests in their graduates holding good positions.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That's right. This is the way I have decided that these men obtained their great interest in the education of women. It was, as you say, an ego investment. They must show to the president of the University at Chapel Hill that the Woman's College was just as important as the University of North Carolina and that their jobs were just as prestigious as Edward Kitter Graham is or Aldeman's job or Veneble's job.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then too, I guess that they were fighting for funds.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes. The competition was intense and Dr. McIver wanted to develop a clientele that would go to the legislature and help him fight for funds. And Gertrude Weil was one that was constantly fighting for funds for WC.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Which is now co-educational.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you came to Chapel Hill and you started writing these letters home about being unhappy, what was the situation that . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That I objected to? The resentment of the student body objected to the presence of women on campus, and the faculty did so too. There were less than a hundred women.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were they mainly in nursing?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, there were no nursing courses at that time, here. Most of them

Page 16
were graduate students in English, which was a very proper subject for women to study. You know, rather than sociology, or history. Although there were more women in history than in sociology. Although I overheard, I think it was Doctor Hamilton who was talking in the hall when I was passing by, who said "No woman is competent to teach a class in history. No matter how qualified, no woman is competent to teach courses except on the public school level—elementary or high school. But in the university, no."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now you said, I think in the first session that we had, that women weren't teaching . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, no . . . no . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You didn't teach then except for military courses?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, no . . . I didn't teach until World War II. 1943.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then you were needed because . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Teachers were desperately needed. And I was recruited at the end of the first semester. Dr. Newsome, who was at that time head of the history department . . . And I had been one of his students and had taken all the courses that he offered because I considered him to be one of the best teachers in the history department. Dr. Newsome called me in and said "Now we would like for you to teach full time." I had just taught one course . . . two courses . . . the previous semester. "We would like for you to teach full time and I wonder if you can arrange to do so. I have not heard one word of objection about you." [Laughter] I was so amused.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was such a positive statement.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
"Not one word of objection about you." [Laughter] I remember so well when I walked in to my first class in 1943, the men arose. They were all in the Navy and they were supposed to arise when a superior came in the room, so they promptly arose, and some of them whistled. And when I ascended the platform and motioned for them to be seated, I said "Thank you very much, gentlemen. I've

Page 17
never been so flattered in all my life. But from here on out, I will do the whistling." And they cheered. I enjoyed the work, and I think the men did too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So you taught that whole year.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Full time the second semester.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. When Dr. Newsome telephoned me and asked me if I would come in to the teaching program, I said "It will depend upon the situation. I'd like to know what rank and salary I will have." He hummed and hawed and said "Well, I'll have to work that out." I said "Well, when you do work it out, please call me again and I'll give you my answer." When he called again he said "Now what was your rank when you left the Institute as a research person." I said that I was an associate professor and he said "Well, we've arranged for you to come in to our program as an associate professor. And the salary will be the same as an associate professor." And I said that under those circumstances I would be glad to accept. A number of years later in the little bulletin that the department of history publishes annually I was — its about the graduate students and their publications and the alumni — I was listed as Guion Griffis Johnson gave one of the addresses at the meeting of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association in Pittsburgh. She was formerly a lecturer in history, in the department of history in the V12 program.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now who was responsible for that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The head of the history department. In the meantime Dr. Newsome had died, and one of the men who had taken his doctorate the same year that I took mine and whose dissertation did not win the award whereas mine had and who had always been very competitive toward me downgraded my status from associate professor to lecturer. I mentioned this only to indicate the rigid attitude which has been maintained in most of the departments of the University until within the last few years. Just recently . . . I remember that Anne Scott asked Julia Spruill when

Page 18
she thought the history department would ever permit a woman to lecture or to come in as a ranking professor. And Julia smiled quaintly and said, "Never."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When was this?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I think it was probably in . . . soon after Anne came . . . in the 60s. You know Ann could not get a teaching position here and had to go to Duke in order to find a job. But fortunately Duke was more liberal.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The attitude at Duke was somewhat different, wasn't it?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Although their salaries were very low . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The salaries of women or the salaries of all professors.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
A few highly selected professors received extraordinarily high incomes. But the rank and file, even on the professorial level received poverty level salaries. When we came from Atlanta back to the University, I think I told you about going to Bob House about the history department. Before we returned I was in New York for a meeting of the National Public Relations Council of which I was Chairman of the Board and had gone over to talk to Don Young who was a friend of ours and head of the Russell Sage Foundation. And Don was saying "What are you going to do when you get back to Chapel Hill?" And I said "You tell me!" He said "If I were you, I'd never put my foot in Chapel Hill again. Why don't you go—there's a job opening at Duke. And I'm going to telephone them right now, with your permission, and say that you're on your way back to Atlanta and I want you to stop off and have an interview for this job in the department of sociology at Duke." I said "Fine!" He called Dr. Jemen and Dr. Jemen said "Oh, I would be so glad for Dr. Johnson to come. Yes, we'd like very much to have her on the faculty. Ask her to come by and see me on the way back to Atlanta." So I stopped in Durham and had a very pleasant interview with Dr. Jenner . . . Jenson . . . who was a very gentle person and quite involved in at least social welfare matters in the state and he asked me to list what I had been doing. When I told him I was president of the directors of social welfare conferences in the country and chairman

Page 19
of the board of the National Public Relations Council for Health and Welfare Services. Of course the work in Atlanta. He knew the work I'd done here. He whistled and said "We don't have enough money. You're over qualified for this job. We don't have enough money to pay you. We pay only $125 a month."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That horrible figure comes back again.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
$125 a month. I said "I just do not think . . . It would cost me transportation. And to get a good housekeeper whom I would want to have while I do my work over here. I do not think that it would justify my coming. So I'm sorry. I'm not interested."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But he presented it in such a way that you were . . . he agreed.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Now at the time they were looking for a dean of women to replace Dr. Alice Baldwin. And he said "I think you'd be excellent for that position. I'm going to take you over for an interview with Dean Baldwin." We did go over for an interview and it was — short dresses were just coming in. They had been down almost to the ankles, and I had on a fashionable short dress. And when I sat down my dress went up over my knees. And Dean Baldwin said "Oh, my dear." And that was the end of that. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Amazing. This was in 43?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, 47.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
After the war!
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, 1947. [Laughter] When we returned, Dean Baldwin immediately began to court me. She telephoned me and asked if she could come over and have lunch with me. She wanted me to be her guest. We worked together on the AAUW on the state level and she was constantly asking me to do this on that Throwing little favors in my way. I think that she perhaps realized [Laughter] . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Softened a bit . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. Well, I think that perhaps the expression on my face when she showed shock because my dress, my skirt had gone up over my knees . . . well, that perhaps she was just a little old-fashioned. But certainly I was not acceptable as dean

Page 20
of women, even so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Had she retired by that point? When you . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, she actually did not . . . she retired as dean of women but continued to teach in history. I think that she died just a few years after her retirement. She did not live long after her retirement.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you came, you talked a little bit last week about the feeling when you talked to Conner and you talked to Chancellor House about a position and they said go out and make friends with women. When did all this start, this attitude toward Guy. Was it when you first came or after you'd been here for a while or was it just association with Howard Odum in the sociology department?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
From the beginning, when Guy . . . Guy had written some articles for Social Forces on the Ku Klux Klan. I think that a few people in the state became fearful of him at an early date.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was right after he came?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, right after we came. And before he received his doctorate, he had collaborated with Dr. Odum on two books on Negro songs and his dissertation was the musical talent of the Negro. All this got whispered around on the board of trustees and in a small circle of Negro haters on the board of trustees. Quite soon he was someone to be watched. At one time he brought a Negro poet to the campus. And a rather unfortunate situation arose. He [the poet] wrote for Contempo which was a Communist sponsored newspaper which was being published in Chapel Hill. The poet wrote a poem about Christ and the poem indicated that Christ was black. The word spread very quickly about this black Communist being brought by a member of the sociology department to speak to the students. Guy had raised the money, had written a letter to faculty members saying that he had an opportunity to bring Langston Hughes to the campus and that he would like to pay him a small honorarium. He got a ready response and was able to pay him a decent honorarium. The word went out, because of this affiliation with Contempo, the Communist newspaper, and telegrams flooded and there was a great demand that Guy be fired from the campus.

Page 21
Frank Graham defended Guy and said "I am responsible for what happens on this campus. You fire me. I will not fire the man who brought . . . " And never at any time mentioned Guy's name. I think there was a conspiracy to keep Guy's name out of it, but then there was this feeling that it must have been Guy Johnson. If it wasn't, then it was Howard Odum.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
One was as bad as the other.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, yes. Of course Dr. Odum was always highly criticized because of his tolerance of the Negro and his favorable comments on the Negro and because he brought Negroes to the campus to speak. He was always suspect.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How long had he been here when you came?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
We came in the fall of 1924. I think he came in 1921 or 22. He had not been here long.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And the Institute? He was just getting . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Just getting it in 1924. He had received funds.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So the Institute had just started.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, we were the first members chosen. Guy and I and Katherine Jocher and one or two others.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So he had been brought as head of the sociology department?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, by Dr. Harry W. Chase, who was then president of the University. He and Dr. Chase had received their doctor's degrees together at Clark University. So Dr. Chase was familiar, was a long standing friend of Dr. Odum's.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And Dr. Chase continued to be very supportive . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes. Dr. Chase was very supportive of Dr. Odum.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How long was he president?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
He left for the presidency of New York University in the late 20s and Frank Graham was chosen as president of the university.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
From what you said, he maintained this . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, yes. Frank Graham was a liberal. He had finished the University here and had gone to the London School of Economics and his indoctrination into

Page 22
liberalism took place in London, at the London School of Economics. He studied with Harold Laski
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said that Howard Odum was so very good at collecting money for projects that he wanted to do. Where was his support coming from?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, he was. Largely from the foundations in the North. From Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie Corporation. I do not know whether he had any Ford Foundation support or not. But the Rosenwald Fund also. Rosenwald was located in Chicago. Rosenwald helped him support the Institute.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was Guy involved at all or were you involved in . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Fund raising? Only in that we were the ones usually assigned to go meet visiting dignitaries in Raleigh or in Durham and bring them over. Dr. Odum told us before we came up from Texas that we would need a car. [Laughter] So we bought a car, which we had not possessed. And that little Ford, that little model T Ford, went on many a trip to Raleigh and Durham to pick up various members of the Foundations who were coming to see what we had done and check on the progress of the Institute. And we would entertain them. We would often have . . . Mrs. Odum was not very well and Dr. Odum did not like to have dinners and parties at his house. And so he would often ask us to have the dinners, which we did.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was the feeling of other people on the faculty outside of the sociology department, about what was going on in the institute . . . Did it change over a long period of time?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, it took a long time for the attitude of other departments to become more liberal in their thinking and more appreciative of the pioneer work which Dr. Odum was doing in the Institute. I remember going, in the 30s, to a little party at the home of an education professor1 and having the professor come in—it was a bridge party—and having the professor come in and say "Well, how's my socialist friend getting along?" I ignored it. He was not addressing me. Then he came over and put his . . . patted me on the back and said "How's my socialist?" And I said

Page 23
"What do you mean, socialist?" And he said "Well, you're in the Institute for Research in Social Science and sociology. And sociology and socialism are the same thing." Then a professor whose wife was a good friend of mine—his field was French—once stopped us as we were going to a friend who was ill. And she said, "Please come to see me. You haven't come to see me." And I said "Well, the only time I'll have will be Sunday afternoon because I'm so busy working. We'll run around Sunday afternoon." "Fine," said she. We were met, as we walked up to the door, by her husband and he said "I'm sorry, but Mary cannot see you." I said, "But Mary asked me to come and I told her I was coming." "I'm sorry, she's feeling very bad now and she can't come. She can't come to the door or get up and she can't see you so I'm going to have to ask you not to come in." I said "Well, I'm so sorry. Please tell Mary how sorry we are that she's not feeling well and we hope we'll be able to come back again." And he said "Don't bother." And I said "What do you mean, don't bother?" In the meantime Guy was standing there, you know, his eyes protruding in astonishment. I said "What do you mean?" and he said "Well, I personally don't care to associate with anyone who is concerned about the field of work that you two are engaged in."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And he was a professor here?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
He was a professor.2 He had later received his doctorate the same year that Guy and I had, and had been retained on the staff just as we had been.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What department was he in?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
In French.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So it was in a lot of different departments.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes it was not only . . . and I think I mentioned when Jackie was here the difficult time that the school of business administration gave Dr. Odum. Dr. D. D. Carroll was perhaps one of his bitterest enemies. He felt that sociology was going to antagonize the business industry of the state and that the legislature, therefore, would not give the appropriations to the university, that the university needed, and that the department of sociology was really a detriment and

Page 24
should be abolished.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he here over a long period of time?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, he was here over a long period of time and he was highly respected in the state. He was a Quaker, a very kind and generous man in every other area and I think he was genuinely afraid, for the reasons that I have stated. Nevertheless, Dr. Odum had put him on the board of the Institute from the beginning. Dean Carroll; he had only an AB degree. From the beginning Dr. Odum wanted a board for the Institute for Research in Social Science, and he wanted all the social sciences included and to have a part in the administration of the Institute. But actually, he got very little support from the other departments except in psychology.. Fred Dashiell head of the psychology department, was very cooperative. And in education, the education department was also cooperative. But the other departments were not did battle with him.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said you [and Guy] were the first person from the history department . . . Did you remain the historian?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I did. Until, well, in the second year two other graduate students in history came on, two men. Fletcher Green and W. S. Jenkins. And the three of us received our doctorates at the same time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So they were doing essentially the same thing you were doing.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
They were doing . . . actually, Bill Jenkins, his dissertation was on pro-slavery thought, did an excellent job. His book has been reprinted since his death and is pertinent now. And Fletcher Green's was on revsing the state constitutions. I have forgotten the exact title of his dissertation—but the early movement to rewrite the constitutions in the antebellum period.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So it wasn't terribly terribly unusual after your first year . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
To have an historian. No, no. These two . . . then Paul Wager in political science, although government and history were in the same department. Paul Wager was also in the Institute so I guess you can say there were four of us in history who were in the Institute—in the second year of the Institute.

Page 25
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, as far as support by the history department then, of the faculty. They were another department that did battle?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. They liked the idea of the Institute, but they were afraid of Dr. Odum's leadership. And it was chiefly the Negro. You see Bill Jenkins' dissertation was pro-slavery thought. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Hamilton's ideas you've talked about. Hamilton was head and then Conner followed him, am I right?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, Conner was head of the history department after Hamilton retired to become head of the—collector of the Southern Historical Collection. And Mr. Conner took over. I think that he received honorary doctorates, but he objected to being called Dr. Conner.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then Newsome followed.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Followed Conner, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So Mr. Conner was head when you were doing Antebellum North Carolina.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, he was just a professor and did not become head of the department until after he [Dr. Hamilton resigned.]. He went to the Archives in '34. I'm sorry, I'm not clear about that. I don't recall. To the National Archives, I think he went in 33 or 34.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
At your suggestion for setting up . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes, National Archives.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So who did you do most of your work under?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Dr. Conner. You see, he was a professor. Professor Conner, I forget and call him Doctor. And I must say that I liked him very much because he left me alone. He would say of my history that I was writing, "I guess this is all right. But you"re not writing history; you're writing sociology. But you're documenting it all right. Since its documented I guess it's history, but it's really sociology." And he said "As you know, I don't know anything about sociology." And I would say, "No one in this department . . . " He would permit me to be very naughty and talk back to him and that was one reason why I liked him. I've always, ever since I was a child I've had a reputation for being naughty and talking back to people. Much to the

Page 26
embarrassment of my mother. I would say that no one in this department knows what social history is. "I'm going to do this the way I think it ought to be done. I'm interested in social history." And he would say "You mean to say that I have not written social history." And I'd say "No, you haven't written social history." And he would say "Well, what about my lecture on such and such." I'd say "You're just skimming the surface. You're not going into a study in depth."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he in the same period? In antebellum?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
His chief interest was in colonial history, although his course in North Carolina history was a two semester course and he brought the history in the second course up to about the middle of the antebellum period. He spent most of the time on colonial, because that was his chief interest. The first course was from early colonial days until, hopefully, the revolution, but he never quite made the revolution. And then he picked up where he had left off and obviously could not get through the antebellum period.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he putting heavy emphasis on political history. This was mainly what was being done?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes. Political history . . . there was no such thing as social history. That's another field, said the historians. I think that the history department was shaken up and certainly the other—there were five or six of us who received doctorates (not that many, maybe there were four) — who received doctorates in history the year that I took my doctorate. And for my dissertation to win the Smith research award was shattering.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was an award given by . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
By the University. Well, the graduate school administered the awards and there were awards in certain different fields. One in social science. Mine received the award in social science. And then there was one in language and this man who said he didn't like to associate with people who were favorable toward the

Page 27
Negro, his dissertation won the award in languages, foreign languages. So there was one in math, various fields.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, you mentioned very briefly and in a very tantalizing way I thought when Jackie was here about the Sea Island project and about Woofter and about his . . . Could you go into a little more detail about the story about that?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I don't really want to do that because it was most unfortunate and a pathetic aspect of a very fine mind. Well, the basic of the whole difficulty was that he was an alcoholic.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, where you lost us, you said that the project was started and that he was being hired at the university and then something had happened to put him out of favor.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Simply . . . well, since I have gone this far and said that he was an alcoholic, I will have to tell you that the incident was that he was leaving Atlanta—they had not moved to Chapel Hill—he was leaving Atlanta for a conference at Dartmouth College. He was driving, and on the way he was arrested in Danville, Va, because he was found drunk, asleep in his car on the city dump with the front wheels of his car extending over the abyss. So he was clapped in jail and the headlines were all over the papers of the South.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, and this was right before he was to come to UNC.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. So Dr. Odum scurried around and obtained a grant to study St Helena Island. He had always wanted to explore the situation. A bridge had just been built across Port Royal Island to Lady's Island leading to St Helena and this would open up this isolated area to more commerce.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Time was of the essence . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. So on the basis that here were the Sea Island Negroes who were about to be introduced to the big city of Beaufort and the wicked ways of Beaufort, we must get down to St Helena and study their culture before it is too late . . . He was able to get a grant from the National Research Council for this research

Page 28
study.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then Dr. Odum named Dr. Woofter . . . Am I correct in that name?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Woofter. Thomas Jackson Woofter, Jr.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And named him as director of the project, with you and Guy working.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. And Clyde Kaiser, who later went to the Millbank Fund and has stayed there ever since as one of the directors of the Fund. And Clarence Heer from here who was in economics did a small part of the study. And that's about all.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, what was the resolution of that? Did the project save Dr. Woofter as far as . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. I know that when Mr. Conner was objecting to my going and participating in the study . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Because you were taking time out from . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
From the antebellum study. You see, I had my doctor's degree. Mr. Conner was very eager for me to complete that and had said "I'm going to take you away from those socialists over there in the sociology department. I'm going to bring you over here as my assistant and together we'll do this research that I have been neglecting." And I said "Oh, I would like that very much but first I want to know just what my rank would be and what my salary would be" [Laughter] and he said "You would be my assistant." "Yes, but what rank would I have on the faculty? I want to know that." "Oh, we'll work that out." I said "All right. It has to be good. Now I have this letter [from the Institute] It gives me the rank of associate professor." And he said "Well, I don't know now. We have very few associate professors in history. I just don't know what your rank will be." And I said, "Well, it has to be comparable to this. What about salary?" "Well, I think $125 a month . . . " [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were making more than that in the Institute?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I was making more than that in the Institute. I was making $150—

Page 29
more than that—$200. We started at that. Well, I've forgotten just what it was, but anyway, it was an associate professor's salary. He said $125 a month and at that I laughed heartily. And he said "But your work wouldn't be hard." [Laughter] I said "No, just slavery from eight o'clock in the morning until midnight doing your research." And he said "Now, we would enjoy this. Your name would be associated with mine. It would be Conner and Johnson." I did later on, when I was at St. Helena, write a chapter [for his history of North Carolina]. I got this frantic letter from him saying please write a chapter summarizing the social conditions in antebellum North Carolina for my four volume history of North Carolina. I stopped my work and wrote the chapter for him. And he spelled my name wrong. G-r-i-f-f-i-t-h.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When I was here with Jackie and you were talking about Katherine Jocher and her apparently not at all getting her salary and status established as you say you did every time. I thought of this when I was talking to Mrs. Parker because she hadn't either . . . It seems if you didn't say, you were automatically paid less.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Automatically put on the servant level.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This is how you got around that. You always confronted it . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Before. I don't know how I was smart enough to do that. I don't remember anyone telling me to, but I just had the hunch that this was the time to do it and I always did before I would agree to take any kind of job.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You said you [and Guy] were very firm in getting your positions established together because your credentials were the same. Then you had a basis to proceed with the associate professor level. I think even now that research assistants are at associate professor level at the Institute.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Probably so. I don't know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I believe this is the same procedure now. So then after you finished writing the St Helena book and the two companion volumes that go with it then all of you came back and Dr. Woofter was in the sociology department here.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, he was accepted because he had been away for almost two years

Page 30
and everything was very quiet and reports about the progress of research were made at the Institute and in faculty meetings and some stories in the newspapers so that his prestige was built up.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What was his institutional affiliation before he came?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
He was in the Interracial Commission. The Southern Interracial Commission, based in Atlanta, which Dr. Will Alexander had established following World War I.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That was what Arthur Raper worked on, right?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. As a matter of fact, I think Arthur Raper took Jack's place when Jack came up here I think. Arthur Raper was in the Institute for Research and Social Science for awhile when we were here.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Before he went to Atlanta?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, before he went to Atlanta. And he received his doctorate here.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
After you two?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
. . . before he went to Atlanta he received his doctorate.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So he was one of the socialists in town.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, one of the socialists in Chapel Hill.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He was one of Dr. Odum's students?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
After you finished that then, both of you came back and you were writing Antebellum North Carolina . . . You've talked about the acceptance of that in the history department and the way . . . you were kind of apart from . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. I'm quite sure that no one lecturing in history wanted to think of me as being a research associate in history — you know, doing research in history. They wanted to think of me as being a sociologist because they insisted that my Antebellum North Carolina was not history, it was sociology. "So she's really a sociologist."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was in the North Carolina collection and was going through some of Guy's

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writings and I was really struck by the way that he drew on your work.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
We would often walk for a little bit of exercise in the late afternoon. He would be writing an article, an essay, or developing some point in some of the work that he was doing with Dr. Odum, and he would say I'm hung up on this idea. Now he had taught, at Baylor College he had taught in American history, so that he was not ignorant of American history. But he had never had political theory. And I adored political theory. I've always liked to develop concepts and value premises and to get at the basic thinking of any essay that I'm reading or writing. He would say "I think such and such" and I'd say "Well, tell me more." And then as we would walk around through the arboret and around the campus he would spell out his ideas and I would say "Now let me see if I can document what you're saying. And do you think . . . " and together we would work out these ideas. Often I would think, well, obviously, Guy doesn't know much about American history and I'd often say, "The trouble with sociologists is that you do not know any history. They would be better sociologists if they knew history." And Dr. Odum's response would be "History is a dead science. History is unimportant. It is a dead end. It's better to forget history and go on from now." Dr. Odum and I always had this little quarrel going. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The whole idea of studying sociology over time is one of the most, in fact the very most, interesting thing that I think can be done. Well, then you have collaborated on a few of the . . . the one that I noticed was "Patterns of Race Conflict" where he drew from Antebellum North Carolina and used North Carolina as a base.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And then all my . . . you see we had an office together and all my documents were here in my files and in lecturing he would want to see if I had something in this area to spice his lecture and he would go to my files. I would come to write this area and I would say "You have taken something from my files. I remember distinctly that I had something on such and such. Where is it?" And he would say "Oh, I must have used that in my lecture. Oh, I'm sorry, here it is."

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[Laughter] And then I remember I was furious . . . several years ago when I gave a lecture to the Historical Society of North Carolina, that exclusive little group composed of 60 or 70 persons. As some persons have said, its harder to get into the Historical Society than it is into heaven. We were going in to the dinner after the afternoon session . . . we were meeting at Davidson. The afternoon session was just over and we were going into the dinner. And Noblett [of N.C. SC came up. Noblett had been one of Guy's students. And he said "Well, I see that your wife is going to give the paper tonight and that it's going to be on southern paternalism toward the Negro since 1870." He said to Guy "I guess you are very much interested in that topic." Guy said "Yes" and he said "I guess you helped her write it." [Laughter] I was furious with Noblett. Just furious with him to assume that I would turn to Guy, ask Guy to write my paper that I was going . . . but this again . . . I think this is the attitude of historians toward women in the field of history. He just assumed that I would be incompetent to write history even though I had done Antebellum North Carolina. Nevertheless, he thought that it would be impossible for me write on the [philosophical field of] southern paternalism toward the Negro since 1870.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now was the attitude pretty much the same as far as sociologists went or do you . . . Were husband and wife teams . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No . . . yes, I think of Dr. W. I. Thomas and Dorothy Thomas. They were accepted. They taught together at the University of Chicago. And later, he had retired, he was much older than Dorothy, but the, at the University of California at Berkeley he did some lecturing. I think that in the field of sociology the attitude was much more liberal toward husband and wife teams than. Of course, there were not very many, there have not been very many husband and wife teams in sociology. I think of Kluckholm, the Kluckholms at Yale. Florence's work was in anthropology as well as her husband's but she felt that she had to go into sociology in order to be able to get a job at Yale. So she was on a lowly basis,

Page 33
lecturer's basis, I think, perhaps assistant professor, at Yale while her husband was head of the Department of Anthropology. This is true throughout the United States and most departments.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now was the rule in effect here when you were . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . that husband and wife teams could not work in the same department?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, on the staff you could have a lowly job, the wife could, but not a creditable status position if your husband was employed on campus. The Institute was held for a long time not really to be a part of the University and we were to go to the University of Texas on the same basis.3 The University of Texas had a very rigid anti-nepotism law and Dr. Splawn who was president of the University of Texas (and was a long-standing friend of ours, my family, and had taught at Baylor College and I had known him there, and he wanted to set up an Institute for Research similar to the one here) came to talk over possibilities on his way to going to New York to get funds and saw Guy and me and asked us if we would come to help set up an Institute and of course we were eager to get back to Texas at that time and said yes, and Dr. Splawn said, "Now of course, in the Institute I think it can be worked out for both of you to be on the staff. If not, we will pay Guion the same salary as an associate professor, but we might not be able to give her that rank because of anti-nepotism but I think we can get around it just as it's being debated here."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So you could never really have held a position in the History Department. A teaching position.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, not really. That's the reason Mr. Connor wanted me to be his assistant and was not willing to put any status to the title because it actually could not have been done, although I do not think that there was (I have not been through all the laws) but I do not think that any specific law had been passed such as in Texas.

Page 34
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was just trying to think if I had heard of one being appealed or erased and I don't remember hearing that.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I don't think there was any law, it was just an unwritten law. Perhaps a trustee's policy.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I think there is now one, though, that you can't work in the same department.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Maybe, would it be a law, a state law?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That I don't know. I know that Donald Mathews and his wife could not be hired in the same department. At Duke you must be able to because the Scotts . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I don't know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It must be a little bit different. You mentioned that you were at Yale between 1937, I think, what were you . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
We went, '36 and '37, to University of Chicago and to Yale. Guy was given a grant, the National Research Council, for post-doctoral study at Chicago, six months at Chicago and six months at Yale, and we went. And I was planning, and did, attend some seminars in the Department of History, but had to stop all of this when suddenly I had a letter from Bill Couch, director of the Press, saying, "We have begun publication of Antebellum North Carolina and you will soon be receiving galley proof which we would like to have promptly returned because we hope to get the book out by September, '37.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So that's what you were doing.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. I was reading galley proof and page proof both at Chicago and at Yale, and I had to give up the seminars that I had started.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then when you came back it was published. He did make his deadline, I guess?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, he did make his deadline.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then, soon after that, you went for the Myrdal study.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
In '39, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
We talked about the feeling in Chapel Hill as far as the work with

Page 35
Howard Odum's group, and what was the feeling when you left to go do this kind of a study?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
We got no repercussions at all that I'm aware of. We had built up a wide circle of friends who were supportive. For example, the Spruills were very good friends of ours, but they were also very good friends of the D. D. Carrolls (Dr. Carroll, being a constant enemy of Dr. Odum's and the watchdog of the Institute) you would expect to be antagonistic toward us, but they never, neither Mrs. Carroll or Mr. Carroll, showed any animosity toward me, at least I never felt any. But one of my secretaries once said to me, "I wish I could be like you. When people are ugly to you, you act as though you don't notice it and go on, and are just as pleasant and act as though you've been complimented. I wish I could. It makes me furious and I want to fight. But you know, I see you get along much better by pretending not to hear an insult."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, you mentioned that you had come back a period, and someone said, "Why, are you wasting your time on this kind of a project?" Was that kind of the feeling?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you the only ones who went from Chapel Hill?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
From Chapel Hill, yes we were. Well, of course, there was still, and probably still is, a great deal of feeling in Chapel Hill that anyone who spends any time studying the problems of the Negro or doing anything for the Negro is wasting his time. But this group in Chapel Hill is in the minority now. There's been a wide acceptance of the importance of working with the Negro in the Chapel Hill community. Witness the election of Mayor Howard Lee.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Things have come almost full circle.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes! With the Chapel Hill Newspaper for the most part, now, in the

Page 36
last two years supporting Lee, whereas before they have been highly critical of him. And the same editor doing the editorials. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Seeing his own line change.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, when you got to New York and started doing your study were you one of the few historians who . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, I was the only historian.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So, again you were considered a sociologist.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Than a historian, yes. I did the history of racial ideologies . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But they desperately needed someone . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, I think they did. [Laughter] Gunnar Myrdal once came out to have lunch with me. My office was in one of those delightful research rooms in the library at Columbia University, when I moved out of the Schomberg Collection at 125th and Lennox St. He came out to have lunch with me and to tell me that he was going back to Sweden and that he would have to leave a burden on Guy and me which he was sorry to place upon us. Then he said "Ah, but your field is history, and historians are so wise. You are much wiser than anyone else on my staff because you have been well trained in the field of history." And I smiled because we would say this is a "Gunnarism." If he wanted to exploit you, he began by flattering you highly. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He was asking you to . . . while he was gone . . . administer . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, he placed great responsibility on Guy. He wanted me to [complete the idealogy study and go through and pull out the value premises of all the writers who had published in the field of race relations. Which was a big order. And get that done within a month's time. And then from there, I was to help Sam Stouffer who was coming in to take his place as director. Stouffer was a statistician and was coming in to take his place as overall coordinator of the project, in going over the manuscripts that had been turned over by various staff members. And to revise, edit their work. Which was, again, a rather large order because

Page 37
whereas my manuscript was about three hundred pages or more, one staff member had turned in after six months of research a report of twenty-one pages.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh my word. You said that yours was the only complete manuscript . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
That met the deadline. I had a deadline of the first of March. Yes, that was the only one that was completed so that he could take it back with him to Sweden. And he had time to read it on the boat. He went on a freighter.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now he did a lot of the revising over there..?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, he didn't. He just read it. He was never one to do what he called "the nigger work." This is a term that the Swedes have for hard work. He caused quite an incident when he walked into Dr. Thomas' office and said "Well, we've got a new young graduate from Howard University we're bringing on to the staff and he can be your little nigger boy, Dorothy." The man was in the office next to them and heard what Gunnar had said. He didn't confront Gunnar Myrdal with his words but went in to Dorothy Thomas' office and raged "If this is the way the director of this program speaks and thinks about Negroes, I'm leaving." And Dorothy had to soothe him and said "Oh, you don't know. I've done research in Sweden and this is just a Swedish expression. And it grows out of the slavery period. This is all that it means. He did not mean this as a term of derogation. It just meant that you would help me with the hard research."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Gunnar Myrdal from what you've said, had a fairly flamboyant personality.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Oh, yes, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was he married?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes! Alva Myrdal. Alva is as distinguished in Sweden as Gunnar is. Has been ambassador from Sweden to India. Has written, and has been in government work. Quite at length.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
She wasn't here?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, she was here and was doing some writing and quite a bit of lecturing.

Page 38
She was a member of the Business and Professional Women's Club in Sweden and she did quite a bit of lecturing for BPW throughout the United States. And she is a very attractive person.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How long were they here and how long . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
They were here before the staff was assembled, they were here for about a year and he had the office which he later gave to me in the Columbia University library. And was going through reading and formulating his ideas about the Negro in America. And then gathered his staff. Travelled all over the United States interviewing various people. Came here to talk to Guy and me, through Donald Young who was then a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the one who suggested both of us to Gunnar and came here with Gunnar for Gunnar's interview with us. Gunnar had been looking for someone to do the ideological study and had been explaining what he wanted done and said, "I have not found anyone to whom I've talked who even thinks this is important. But Don Young tells me because of your Antebellum North Carolina that you would understand what I'm trying to do. And if you will consider it I will be grateful to you." So I asked him to let me think about it and to write me a statement that I would consider. And again, what would be my salary? [Laughter] What will be my status? [Laughter] "Well, you'll be on the staff." Later, as you know, I had a little tilt with him, and when he began listing us, my position in the preface to An American Dilemma, he lists me among those who also helped. Because I did insult him when he came here to ask me to go back to Princeton. They were to do the writing. Arnold Rose was to do most of the writing but he wanted some little nigger girls to help him. And he wanted to know if I would go to Princeton and be one of his little nigger girls and I said absolutely not. He said "Well, will you write a synopsis of these works that you did?" You see I did the ideology, the value premises of the leading writers in the area of race relations, the Negro church, and the church and race relations.4 Those were three large manuscripts that I did. I don't remember how many pages I did on the value

Page 39
premises . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . four separate . . . of what you want to publish is the racial ideology . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, the racial ideology, which was approved for publication in 1940 and I wouldn't release it. Don Young and Mr. Harrison, Shelby Harrison, were the two leading ones who were on the selection staff—the manuscripts.5 And they asked me to come to New York for an interview so that they could persuade me to release my manuscript. They said "You'll be sorry, you'll be sorry." And I am. They were right and I was desperately wrong. [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why were you not . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I had done that manuscript from scratch in six months, less than six months, from September to the first of March.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see, so you wanted more time . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I wanted more time. I felt that . . . I said that . . . I'm sorry to be vulgar, but I described my work as projectile vomiting. [Laughter] So this is the way I consider this. I just spewed it out. And I wantedxs time to think about what I've written and to reorganize it. I spent a year, did I tell you? One year.6 I went back to New York for a summer and did research and used [additional grant] the money that Carnegie Corporation gave me to pay for a top notch secretary. So I would do the collecting and she would type the data.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

Page 40
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
This was the greatest7 [above]. Once when I went to take communion at the church [St. Mark's Methodist] I was half way down, coming up from communion, by a woman whose daughter I had in Sunday school class. And she said "You have had communion?" I said "Yes." "I would think you would be afraid the Lord would strike you dead! She exclaimed " [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right in the church?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
In the church. Some of my good Sunday school friends saw this and came to me and said "Don't pay any attention to her. She's crazy."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That must be discouraging. [Mary starts talking about a friend of hers, part of which conversation is unintelligible] . . . a masters in physics . . . just getting married to a law student. And they set out to find an apartment. They were both at Emory and wanted a place nearby and they started calling places and they said "Sure, come on over." And they would get there and it had just been filled. (Apparently one or both of these people are black.) I was just so embarrassed and aggravated by the community just adjacent to the university being . . . you know. She was busy with the wedding and plans and he was busy with law school and the last thing they wanted was to fight it or take it to court. So they just . . . but you know, the great liberal community didn't hold up at all. I'm trying to think where we were when the tape ran out.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The tea has put our discussion out of my mind.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I guess we were talking about the Myrdal study . . . I wanted to ask just about . . . and I know so little and have only read part of the American Dilemma.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
It's a big fat book.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
If I get way off the track of something that I should know, just tell me and I'll go read it.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, don't.

Page 41
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was curious about the staff and your interaction with the staff while you were there.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
We had very cordial interaction. Even the . . . there was a young Communist (Lyonel C. Florant) who was a very brilliant student in economics and took his master's from Columbia and was working on his doctorate at Columbia, who was the only one who was at all antagonistic—as far as we were aware.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He was antagonistic from the left.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, from the left. He said that he didn't want any blankity blank southern white woman writing on racial ideology. That if Gunnar Myrdal was to have a study of the history of racial ideology it should be from a northern black and not a blankity blank southern white woman. I was not aware of this undercurrent because he was always very pleasant and cordial to me. And his wife was on the Daily Worker staff. So, some of our friends said, "Invite him to your apartment together. And just in your natural conversation treat him as you would without this knowledge of his objecting to your doing the historical study. You'll convert him." So we did invite them to come and have dinner with us. And his wife wanted to spend all of her time leaning out the window looking at the beautiful view into Jersey. We were on Riverside Drive and here was the river, and the lights were very lovely. In fact, the de Haas painting that we have was made from almost this point. It doesn't show up quite as well because of the glass on it. It's an oil painting but we need to have the glass removed and the picture cleaned. Then . . . it was a lovely view of New Jersey. She said, "I wouldn't mind being rich, if I could live in an apartment like this and look out at this beautiful view." We could hardly . . . by that time the children-we had sent the children back to Chapel Hill. School was out and our housekeeper had gone back and our cook had gone back to Chapel Hill. So we were going to take them [the Florants] out. We were going to have hors d'oeurves and

Page 42
drinks and then take them to a French restaurant. She didn't want to go. "Don't you . . . couldn't we just have scrambled eggs and bacon so I can sit here and look at this . . . " So we said "No, we're sorry, we don't even have any scrambled eggs. We're at the point now that we're working so hard we don't even have breakfast at home." Which was true. We'd get up and go to Childe's for breakfast and go to work. Have all three of our meals out and come back and get to work on our study at night. Because we were both grinding out a lot of research. We took them to a French restaurant where we had been before and we had alerted them that we were to bring a black couple—they were both rather dark—and they said "Oh, no problem; no problem." But they didn't want to seat us. They were very slow about seating us. And then put us out, oh, away, we were almost obscured from the rest of the dining room. And this they resented very much. So the dinner ended with both Florant and his wife being rather frigid. Because they were—it may be that they thought we had deliberately taken them to a place where they would be embarrassed. This was the only time we saw her; probably the last time we saw Florant. But he went to Princeton to work for just a short time with Gunnar Myrdal and Arnold Rose and then he died of pneumonia soon after that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
He must have been very young . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, he was. He was very young. Dorothy Thomas thought that he had the best mind of any of the Negroes on the staff, although Ralph Bunche was on the staff and . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How large was it altogether?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
People came and went and actually Ralph Bunch was there very little, although he was supposed to be one of the major staff members. And his contribution to the research was simply his doctoral dissertation from Harvard. And he was out most of the time. Then there was Dr. D.A. Wilkerson, who

Page 43
was a card carrying communist and wrote the history of Negro education from a Marxist point of view, which was very upsetting to Sam Stouffer. Sam wanted me to rewrite the book [unknown] and I said, "I couldn't possibly do that in the time I have. So all I will say is that this is a good piece of historical research, developed within the framework of Marxian ideology." And Sam was disgusted with me. "You say this is a good piece of work!" I said "Read the rest of the sentence." Then we had to do Florant . . . Florant was the one who did the twenty-one page research.8
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now what was his research on?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Migration. He knew nothing at all about the attempts of Lincoln to get, to use the free slaves in developing, in building the railroad. Knew nothing at all about that experiment and did not include it. But I considered that a very important part, aspect of Negro migration because it did start the movement of the freed slaves out of the South. Although they were not successful as railroad workers, it nevertheless gave some impetus to the migration movement. But Florant didn't know anything about that. So I rewrote that part and from a twenty, or twenty-one page manuscript I think I did more than 100 pages. Saving as much of his material (as possible) and using it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was when he was still around?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, he was still around.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And you were just asked . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and that was one of the reasons he was so angry. Because he—I had been given his manuscript to revise.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And expand.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and expand.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So that was the basic group . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Dr. Thomas was there for a short time then went on to California. Guy was the assistant-associate director. And Ralph Bunche was supposed to

Page 44
be there all the time. Then there were two or three—Kenneth Clark who is now often considered THE northern Negro. Everytime you see a TV panel, usually Kenneth Clark will be on it. He's — I think, he was the first Negro to be made a member of the board of regents of the state university system in New York. He's a professor of psychology at City College. He's a very distinguished person. He was getting his doctor's degree in psychology, finishing his doctorate—from Columbia. So he was there part time, just doing his doctoral dissertation to add to the manuscripts that were available. And would come occasionally to the office. I would see him more frequently at Columbia University than I did at the offices up on Lexington treet. Chrysler—we had the half floor of the Chrysler Building on 40th or 42nd floor or something like that. And the staff was, more or less, fluctuating. [Eleanor C. Isbell and] Guy and I were the [Americans] who stayed throughout the time.9 And the rest came and went. Dr. Wilkerson came in for a part of the time and then left. Some of the rest of them did. Sam Stouffer came only after Gunnar went back to Sweden in April, I think it was, of 1940. And then he worked on steadily and diligently from about the first of May until the program was closed the first of September.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then he, was he involved in the writing?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, he was not. Arnold Rose.10
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And Arnold Rose had not been there?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, he had not been on the staff.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Wasn't that a kind of strange . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Strange way . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Strange situation . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. I think that Sam probably was asked to write the manuscript, but he knew quite well what [could happen] that he would have all the work to do, that Gunnar Myrdal would discuss the ideas and very brilliantly, because he is a

Page 45
scholar and has a facile mind, but that the actual work of writing would be his. And Sam had a good job and didn't want to . . . and was interested in his own research, did not want to do the leg work that was necessary. Whereas Arnold Rose was young and was willing to do the hard work, grubby work, necessary to the production of the manuscript.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well were you happy with what Arnold brought out?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, I was so angry with Gunnar Myrdal that I actually have not read the manuscript through. I've used the index and table of contents to find the parts that I'm interested in, to trace my materials through. And have just dipped in to it. Have not read the book through. And I'm sorry. It has been so well received that I'm obliged to say that . . . Rose was a scholar and a very careful student . . .
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were talking about Louis Worth . . . the only scholarly . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Which of course thrilled me . . . and Louis . . . repeatedly, as long as he lived, every time he'd see me, or write me a letter [would] say, "When are you going to release Ideology? This is a book that needs to be published. When are you going to release it?" But it hasn't been released yet.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
If you can find Chapter One . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
If I can find Chapter One. I may decide that the original Chapter One is all right after all. After all that year of work. I was saying that [when we left Atlanta] we had put—I had put all these manuscripts from my desk in one big carton. And that was the one carton, plus some others, that the [moving] van could not take, could not hold. And I wanted to bring, to put it in the car, the trunk of the car. But the car was already full and I said "Well, they're coming back tomorrow and get the rest" and when the van finally, three or four weeks later, came with this part load, I did not find the carton. But I was reassured. "It was, oh yes, it's here. You'll find it here. We had to

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repack some things."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So they had gone back and picked up other things.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
They went back and picked up some of the things. But I think . . . something like the wheelbarrow [Laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
The rake and the hoe.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The rake and the hoe. They were on a screened porch but I think somebody came by and helped themselves but they wouldn't take the box of trash, which was papers. Guy still promises me that I'll find that manuscript and my precious letters11 in the basement. And we're now unloading the boxes in the basement. He said "This summer, I'm sure you're going to find Chapter One."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Maybe you will.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Maybe I will.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I meant to tell you. You had mentioned that it was on microfilm at UNC. I looked for it and couldn't find it.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
You couldn't find it? Well, it is supposed to be on microfilm.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Now I looked downstairs in the main microfilm file and also in the North Carolina collection.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
And its not listed under my name? Well, I know they have had a microfilm copy. I don't know what has happened.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I'll ask again when I get in touch with the head lady. It might be checked on to see what has happened to it.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, if you want to look at the manuscript, I'll be very glad for you to use the working copy that Arnold Rose and Gunnar Myrdal used.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I would love to look at that.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Which eventually was returned to me and the first typing went to the Schomburg collection. And that was the copy that was put on microfilm. I know its on microfilm because I've had letters from all over saying, "It's so difficult to read this microfilm, if you could possibly let me have

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the original manuscript I would so much appreciate it because I cannot afford to go to New York to read it in the Schomburg collection". From the University of Wisconsin, University of California, places like that where students are using . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
We should check again. I'll ask them again because it certainly should be here.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes it should be. Because they did have a copy. I know that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, I don't know anything about the microfilm. It wouldn't be in the Southern Historical Collection?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I don't think so. I don't know. Carolyn Wallace would know of course. Do you know her? I think she knows more about the content than almost anyone because she's been there longer.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh . . . I was in there one day and I was amazed at what she could tell me . . . in the card catologue under everything I could think of. But I'll check again. They might have just misplaced it. Might not be a card.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes. I did not understand that either. Several times I've been in the library and just looked to see if it were listed and did not find it under Gunnar Myrdal or under Johnson. I thought it might be listed under Guy's name.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I looked under American Dilemma. So . . . how many people reviewed each one. Was there a large staff to read the . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I suppose four. Donald Young, Shelby Harrison, Louis Worth and then someone who had a specialty in this field would be a fourth member who would usually read the . . . but those three come to mind.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then when the reviews . . . but this was for your own personal manuscript [unknown].
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No, part of my Ideology manuscript. And various other persons

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read the church and race relations and the Negro church. I don't know that anyone read the value premises.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
. . . publish the Negro church, too. Not much has been done . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I know. Those two were not approved for publication. I don't know why, except it was read, those two manuscripts were read by a friend of ours at Yale who had done something on Mississippi which we did not like and which I reviewed unfavorably. And so he gave me a very bad mark on my review, on those two manuscripts. I'd taken maybe six weeks to do one and six weeks to do the other. That sort of thing. He was right. It was not a through job.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But as a basis for . . . really its amazing how little has been done.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, this is true.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You would think now after, what, thirty years . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Don't mention it, more than thirty years. Thirty-four years.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You would think the shelves would be full of things. Well then, you spent the time after you came back revising . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, revising. I went to New York to do research, some more research. Carnegie Corporation gave me and Guy some more money to do more research on his study of crime and me to do more research, if I wished. Or to use the money in any way. They said "You don't have to do anything. You just weren't paid enough. And so we're giving this to you as sort of an honorarium or some compensation for the hard work that you put in on the study." But I chose to use mine to go to New York and employee a secretary and collect more data.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then when you came back from that were plans in the making for you to go to Atlanta for . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
No . . . came back and did research for a year. Then the war came and I was stopped in the middle of a sentence. When one of the women in

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town wanted me to take a position in the office of civil defense—a volunteer position, of course. I said "I am sorry, I am trying to finish a manuscript. I cannot do it." And she said "What are you, a Nazi sympathizer?" I said "Its just that I think my contribution would be greater by finishing the manuscript than it would be by doing some trivial job with the civil defense." "I shall certainly remember this," said she. When Guy came home for lunch I told him and he said "Well, I think that the pressure on you is going to be so great that you just better stop your research and do this work." So I was on the rationing board and issued all the ration books except the first one.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was here?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Here in Chapel Hill. Before I went in to the V12 program. Then I did the office of civil defense work, which was the public relations officer for the county, went all over the county . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What kinds of things were you doing?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Simply explaining the position of America in the war and the need for cooperation and the need to plant war gardens and explaining the rationing program, trying to get the cooperation, simply get the cooperation of the people to observe rationing. And rationing was successful, despite everything Mr. Nixon has said about it's being unsuccessful. It was successful. I wrote for the national office a little, several little books on "Know Your Community" and "How To Interpret the War." And in the closing days of the war I was tracked down in Macon, Georgia, by Paul Porter who asked me please to come and take over the community service division in Washington. And travel all over the western United States, doing for them what I had done . . . I had set up conferences here and had invited the national people down to show how we had brought the local people in to discuss their understanding of the rationing program. And this

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impressed them. And at that point I said "The rationing program has already been killed. There is nothing I can do to save it. Sorry, can't do it."
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was with the end of the war . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
This was in 1946 that he tracked me down in Macon, where I was trying to help with getting volunteers for the juvenile court in Macon.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why was the rationing program . . . you thought it was being killed prematurely?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, and that there had been relaxation on the national level and that there had been so many prominent people speaking against the rationing program that I . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Whereas if they had been supporting . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Whereas if they had been supportive, yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did they just think things were over and there's no need . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, no need. And then, of course, industry and business had been violently opposed to the program. Because the prices were being held down. War Price and Control Board. Some people . . . this was a part of the campaign to abolish rationing as soon as possible.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You were still . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
I had nothing at all to do [with OPA in Atlanta] We'd gone to Atlanta and I was in the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And so this had all been in North Carolina.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
All of my work, yes, had been in North Carolina.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then the V-12 program, you taught in . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes . . . I guess beginning in January 43.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then that went until . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
August of 44.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then you left and . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Went to Atlanta. Came back in late August of 47.

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MARY FREDERICKSON:
So you were there for three years.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you were there . . . you had mentioned that when you were in Atlanta . . . that you were working for, working at editing Georgia Welfare and Executive secretary with the Georgia Conference
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
On Social Welfare. Yes, right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I was really interested in how you said you were all over the state and trying to drum up support for the Regional Council.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Well, doing this indirectly.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right, but I was just wondering where you went for support. Who were other liberal groups who were supporting Guy's work in Atlanta at that time? Who were your allies and who were your enemies?
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
The churches were allies for the most part. The Methodist Church, Bishop Arthur Moore, was very supportive. And the Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church. And I worked with United Church Women on the state level and on the local level.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was when your volunteer work really got cranked up again for the first time.
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, this is true. But the board of the Conference on Social Welfare was very eager for me to participate in all aspects of the life of the community in order to enhance the prestige of the Conference on Social Welfare and make it more possible for the legislature to open the purse for social welfare programs.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. That was a big switch for you, to go from research and writing on Antebellum North Carolina then Gunnar Myrdal . . .
GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes . . . yes . . . it was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you get involved in it initially. Were . . . I mean, did someone approach you and ask . . .

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GUION GRIFFIS JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. The president of the Georgia conference on social welfare and Mrs. M.E. Tilly who you know—no, I think it was Jackie I said should study Mrs. Tilly. Mrs. Tilly did much of the work that Mrs. Daniels—what's her name—Jesse Daniel Ames had been getting credit for doing. Mrs. Tilly came to me with Miss Lucille Wilson, who was director of Old Age Assistance in State Dept. Public Welfare . . .
END OF INTERVIEW
1. Minor Gwyn. Dr. Gwyn was a tease and liked to needle even his best friends. He may have been mocking some other faculty member, but even so his remarks were significant.
2. At that time, he was a graduate assistant and we were research assistants in the Institute for Research in Social Science.
3. In the autumn of 1927. It was while Dr. Spawn was on this trip that the Ferguson clique in the Texas Democratic Party, which opposed Dr. Spawn's liberalism, took advantage of his absence and developed a situation which caused him to resign soon after he returned home.
4. Guy had been assigned the areas of the Negro Church and the Church and Race Relations but his heavy administrative responsibilites made it impossible. I prepared the manuscript and he wrote prefaces to the two reports.
5. Others on the selection committee were Samuel A. Stouffer, William F. Ogburn. Various specialists were also asked to read manuscripts in the areas of their specialties. It was as a specialist that Louis Wirth read my Ideology manuscript.
6. Others on the selection committee were Samuel A. Stouffer, William F. Ogburn. Various specialists were also asked to read manuscripts in the areas of their specialties. It was as a specialist that Louis Wirth read my Ideology manuscript.
7. The interview must have turned from the Myrdal study to the work in Atlanta, 1944-47.
An American Dilemma
9. Richard Sterner had come from Sweden to work on the study and later a younger Swedish economist arrived, Gunner Lange. He was later at N.C. State in Raleigh for a short time.
The American Dilemma
11. From my brother, J.F. Griffin, who was on the first Commission to settle the boundary of the two Koreas, and from my V12 students in the Pacific.