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Title: Oral History Interview with Marguerite Tolbert, June 14, 1974. Interview G-0062. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Tolbert, Marguerite, interviewee
Interview conducted by Myers, Constance
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: 136 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.
2006-12-19, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Marguerite Tolbert, June 14, 1974. Interview G-0062. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0062)
Author: Constance Myers
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Marguerite Tolbert, June 14, 1974. Interview G-0062. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0062)
Author: Marguerite Tolbert
Description: 148 Mb
Description: 44 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 14, 1974, by Constance Myers; recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Frances Tamburro.
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.
Editorial practices
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.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
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Interview with Marguerite Tolbert, June 14, 1974.
Interview G-0062. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Tolbert, Marguerite, interviewee


Interview Participants

    MARGUERITE TOLBERT, interviewee
    CONSTANCE MYERS, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Miss Tolbert, I'm told that you've been extremely active in the field of education in our state. Can you tell me a little bit about your own education?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes. I've been active in education all my life. When I was in the second grade I decided to be a teacher. I had a lovely teacher and I remarked, "When I grow up I wish to be a teacher." And you know in that day and time no doors were open to women except nursing and teaching. Being an old maid aunt, I'm the spinster in my family who helped to take care of my niece and nephew, but fortunately I chose a door that was open and that door was education. At that time, Winthrop College was the center that prepared teachers. It's president was none other than Dr. D.B. [David Bancroft] Johnson who founded Winthrop College through a grant from the Peabody Foundation and who was assisted by the governor, Benjamin Ryan Tillman, "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman, who said that "every farmer's daughter and every family should be able—whether they were rich or poor—to educate their children." So, Winthrop evolved and that's a story in itself that is recorded in Distinguished Women from South Carolina

Page 2
that will help answer your question. I grew up in Laurens, where I attended the public school.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What community did you live in?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Right there in Laurens. I was born in Great Court, our ancestral home. My family came to Laurens when I was two years old. We love Laurens and Gray Court—it's the center of interest of the Gray clan. And I was graduated from the Laurens High School as salutatorian in 1910.
That story is told partly in here. [tapping book] Dr. Rass, who once was president of Lander College in Greenwood, S.C., wrote my biography, brief biography, and recorded it in this volume.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Would you tell, please, the title of this volume that you have in your hand?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes South Carolina's Distinguished Women from Laurens County, most of whom are red-headed. There are twenty-seven chapters—with a total of 30 women.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And this was published in 1972 and co-ordinated by . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
. . . Marguerite Tolbert, Wil Lou Gray and Dr. Irene Elliott, who was the first woman ever to get a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and also the first dean of women at the University of South Carolina. They all say that's

Page 3
Marguerite's book but they were all invaluable in helping me. Back to my past, my education.
I was graduated salutatorian from my class. Rebecca Dial, [unknown], my best friend, was valedictorian and she's written up in this book, too. Then, to Winthrop.
How I got my scholarship to Winthrop is the most exciting event in my life, and that is recorded in my brief biography.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But can you tell it in just a few words?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, I can. My two sisters were being graduated from Winthrop. My mother was ill at Johns Hopkins that year.
Father was hard-pressed for funds. I believe it was the time of four-cent cotton. Our economy was nothing to brag on. But I was looking forward with the keenest anticipation to attending Winthrop. Winthrop was definitely in the future for me—as my two sisters and many friends had gone to Winthrop. My mother, as I said, was at Johns Hopkins. She wrote, "I want Marguerite to attend Winthrop commencement and be oriented, so she can feel at home next September when she enters college. And I did. But, when my father brought me the letter he said, "Margie—he called me Margie—do you think you could wait a year to go to Winthrop. With the two girls in college this year and your mother ill it's going to be difficult for me to swing it financially." The world tumbled in on me. I

Page 4
didn't let him know it, but I was completely nonplussed and amazed. He said, "You wait just a year, and I'll be ready to take care of it." I said, "Fine, we'll wait a year," but I cried myself to sleep that night. Heartbreaking experience. But I had heard, through my relatives and friends, that you could stand an examination and get a scholarship to Winthrop, if you couldn't pay the tuition at the time. The scholarship would pay all expenses. Without asking anybody I went to the courthouse to the county superintendent of education; I think his name was Mr. Pitts. He told me all about it. He gave me some sample exam questions from the previous examinations, and I set up for myself a rigid program of study. I would slip away from the family, I remember so vividly, and go next door to Mrs. Guy Garrett's second floor. Here I set up a little study and I studied rigidly 'til July the fifth, the day of the examination. I had an enticing invitation to go on the fourth on a big hayride party with my friends. But I stayed at home and studied and crammed. On the day of the examination I was ready to go. We assembled at the courthouse. My Aunt Mary Waller and my Uncle Clarence Gray ran the hotel on the Laurens square. She always took an interest in me. She phoned, "Marguerite, you are to come by the hotel first and then you will have lunch with me on the day of the exam." So, with all

Page 5
the information I could cram into this vacuum of mine I went to the Court House to stand the examination. There were about forty in the room; a lot of buzzing and talking. I looked over and saw red-headed Kate Wofford and red-headed somebody else and I said, "Oh, I wonder if I'll ever be able to compete with them." But anyhow, on a hot July the fifth, I stood the exam and went to my Aunt Mary's for lunch. She served cold milk and a cool salad—nothing heavy. And after lunch she sent the butler over with a tall pitcher of lemonade. And I attribute my success to that pitcher of ice cold lemonade [laughter] which I shared at the table with my friends. Then that night I was invited to a delectable steak dinner—the climax of the day!
After that time passed tediously. Not a word from Winthrop came. My sister, who had graduated at Winthrop, had had a house party. I was delegated to take them to the station. We had a rubber-tired old buggy and a horse by the name of Prince. My father was an insurance agent in those days—went from county to county. So I drove Prince down Main Street with the girls to the railroad station in Laurens when they were leaving. We had trains running, you know, from Charlestown to Columbia to Newberry and Laurens and Greenville. As I carried those pretty girls to the station [I had to make two trips] a young, personable young man jumped off the train—Ossie Anderson. He spied me in the crowd. Everyone assembled

Page 6
bled to see the trains come and go in those days. He rushed over, grabbed my hand. "Congratulations! I see in the morning State you've won the scholarship to Winthrop from Laurens County." That was the thrill of a lifetime. I told everybody good-by. I jumped into the rubber-tired buggy and with a whip, I whipped old Prince as fast as I could up Main Street. The first person I told the good news to was our old cook Manda. We danced around the table threw the cat into the air and Manda said, "Lordy mercy, lordy mercy, I knew you was gonna win. I knew you was gonna win." I ran to the telephone to tell the good news my two Aunt Marys who were so interested in me and who sponsored me. My mother was quite an invalid then. She was recuperating at Graystone near Great Court, ancestral home of the Grays. Of course they rejoiced with with me.
Dr. Rass says in his chapter in our book, "Is it any wonder that Marguerite chose South Carolina as the scene of her activities in the line of education." I taught in the South Carolina public schools for twenty years. I taught at Winthrop College. I taught at Clemson summer school, Newberry summer school. I became a member of the state department of education, where I served as Supervisor or Assistant Supervisor of adult education. Later I became assistant director of the South Carolina Opportunity

Page 7
School, famous not only from coast to coast but around the world. Dr. Wil Lou Gray was the founder. I became assistant director there. They did ask me to be director but I was sixty-five and I said, "No, I don't want to assume more and more heavy duties toward the end of my career." So I decided that I would be assistant director for a few years and retire. I served seven years.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Under whose directorship?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
First, Mr. Jessie Agnew; next, Mr. William T. Lander; then, I retired, full retirement in '65 and moved into this apartment across the hall from Wil Lou Gray. We have continued our interest in continuing education because we believe that education begins at the cradle and continues until the grave. You never get too old to learn. That has been our philosophy and we've pursued it and so we're remaining in the main stream of life. I'm eighty-one; Wil Lou will be ninety-one soon. We go, go, go morning, noon and night. I was taking my annual physical yesterday and landed over in the hospital for a morning. Anyhow, Wil Lou and I were both invited yesterday for the big vocational state conference as honored guests. They put us at the head table. I can't enumerate the many, many things that happen to us continually in the field of education. We attended Clemson University last month, the last week of May, as senior citizens. The University puts on

Page 8
a wonderful week for senior citizens. We go back to school, we elect courses and we listen to wonderful lectures. We go on tours. If you're interested in arts and crafts, good—anything you want. So, we try to stay in the mainstream of life and pursue our education, as we said, from the cradle to the grave. And it's focused on education for all but particularly on adult education.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Very democratic implications.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Well, that has been asked me before. In the year that South Carolina celebrated its sesquicentennial, the Gray clan that numbers hundreds from New York and Washington to California and Miami and all over South Carolina, decided to honor me at the reunion that year because I'd been their historian for years. Dr. W. L. Gray, Jr. of Miami, my first cousin, he's a Wofford College man, was invited to bring the tribute to me on that occassion. It was to be a surprise but they had to come to me to ask this same question. So Bill did; said "We can't keep it a secret; we'd like to, but at our reunion this year we are honoring you. And I have to have material that's valid. What do you consider the highlights in your life?" And I said, "Well, one is when I stood that examination for Winthrop and got it. Another is when I was graduated cum laude from

Page 9
from Winthrop College. Another was when Winthrop College on May the sixth, 1973—that's just last year—conferred on me an honorary doctor's degree in humane letters."
Another highlight, I believe, was when Dr. W. D. McGinnis invited me to return as a teacher at Winthrop. I had studied under him when I was a student there.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What did you teach, Miss Tolbert?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
English in high school. That was my internship in the field of education, and at Winthrop Training School Junior High.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And you taught English in the high schools?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, I have taught everything from illiterates to college graduates.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But at Winthrop . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, then I went back to Winthrop, maybe somebody had died or passed on—either Dr. Johnson or Dr. Kinard who followed him would call Miss Marguerite to come up here and take this job to fill in. They thought I was a jack of all trades, I think. So, I went back again and again. I was elected trustee at Winthrop for eight years for the alumni association. That was a highlight. Another highlight was when—and I'll say this, they tried their best

Page 10
to get somebody else to head the organ fund for the college, to raise seventy thousand dollars for the James F. Byrnes Auditorium. Nobody would take it. I'm sure they presented the challenge to everyone who was warm and nobody wanted it. It was too dificult. Finally, Ruth Williams begged me to take it. I said, "No, Ruth. I'd be glad to help you find somebody." And I did my best but we couldn't get anybody to say yes. I was then, it was right after the war, heading a thrilling project I ought to tell you about for delinquent boys at King's Mountain, as a war measure. I was very near Winthrop; it was in York County, you see. The camp for the delinquent boys was right at Winthrop. So, down the committee came to see me the third time and they said, "Will you accept this challenge and be responsible for that seventy thousand dollars?" In a weak moment I said yes; and we did it. We did it. One of the hardest jobs I ever tackled. And I thank Edgar Brown to this day. Together Ruth Williams and I went to see Edgar. We said, "You've just given Citadel $50,000 extra over and above their appropriation. You've just given Carolina fifty thousand dollars extra for thus and so and Clemson fifty, but not one sou to Winthrop. We want you to promise us fifty thousand dollars on that organ." "No, Miss Marguerite, we can't promise you fifty thousand dollars on it."

Page 11
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Why not?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
He gave his reasons, a tight budget. "But we'll give you thirty-five thousand if you raise thiryfive." I grabbed it. I grabbed it; I didn't argue; I didn't say, "We're discriminated against." I just took it gratefully. And I started writing more and more to the alumni begging for help. One day after seven long tedious years I got a telegram—"The organ fund today went over the top with the last payment." I was working in the state department of education, I think, and they say I almost fainted. Then I checked; we had everything with one exception: the chimes. They would cost fifteen hundred dollars more. I called together my classmates—the good old class of 1914. I said, "Will you assume with me that responsibility?" I'll give credit to Catherine Davis. I said, "Catherine will you make the motion at our reunion at Winthrop this year, that the class of 1914 give those chimes. if they'll put a marker up on the wall that we gave it and give us credit?" She agreed wholeheartedly. She led the way with a gift of a hundred dollars. Julia Gaillard gave a hundred. I gave a hundred. We went on down the line. I remember the McNair girl also gave a hundred. And before you knew it—we had it, but we had to work for a year on that. That marker is there, now a highlight. When they dedicated the organ they had Virgil

Page 12
Fox from New York City to come. He put on a most thrilling concert in the James F. Byrnes Auditorium. The whole southeast was invited in—all of the colleges, everybody. And the music departments came from near and far and filled the auditorium each evening. Yours truly was given five minutes on the stage to render her stewardship and what I had done and the ups and downs of raising that seventy thousand Aeolian Skinner pipe organ, handcrafted by the finest craftsmen in America. I could go into detail on that. That evening they dedicated a number to me and to the class of 1914 as those chimes rang out. The sky . . . I was on cloud nine.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I can see that you regard this as the most singular and most significant of your achievements.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes. You have no idea.
There were other wonderful things that have come and gone in my life . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But this was the highpoint?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
One, I'm sure. Dr. Rast says that the October the third meeting of the Gray clan that was dedicated to me, probably was a highlight, but I expect the organ project eclipsed them all. I don't know which. Another highlight in my life was after we had gathered material for this book on distinguished women, and Wil Lou and I took it to the R. L. Bryan Company and the head of the firm said, "Yes, we'll risk five thousand dollars to publish it." I could hardly sleep that night I was so elated. That was thrilling, to say the least.

Page 13
That project was as hard and difficult as anything I ever did.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
To compile it.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
To compile it and get it together. Most people have to work just with the author, but you see—look at my authors. Here were dozens and dozens of them and people of all kinds of eccentricities. You had to keep the project going. I got out a newsletter every two weeks to keep the eighty-three people involved and informed and working together.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How long was this project?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Two years at least, morning, noon and night. Oh, you don't know how I labored.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Well, it certainly is a worthwhile project. I think the same thing should be done for South Carolina as a whole, perhaps.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I put that idea in the introduction. I wanted it to be a forerunner. We focused on Laurens County. You can see here—the only Pulitzer prize winner, Julia Peterkin; and Ann Pamela Cunningham who saved Mount Vernon for the nation, the little cripple, and who was courted by the president of the United States. That is an exciting story.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I'll be interested to read it.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes. Dr. Ernest Lander of Clemson wrote that chapter.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Miss Tolbert, what were you doing during those electric years, 1914-1920, when the movement for suffrage

Page 14
for women reached its height? What were you doing in those years?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I was teaching school in the public schools of South Carolina. In the meantime, I had been invited by Dr. McGinnis, head of the education department at Winthrop . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was his first name?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Willis D., Willis D. McGinnis . . . to come back and teach at Winthrop. And well do we remember, Woodrow Wilson was president, became the president, from Princeton. And the women all over the world, from Miss Pankhurst in England and go back to 1828 at the Seneca group demanding suffrage and all of that . . . It was just rolling on and on. Many states out west already had it.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Were you in Rock Hill in those six years?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, no . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Just part of those six years?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
. . . just part of them.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Which ones?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
The last . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
1918 through 1920?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes. I focused there because that's where the bill was passed through the Congress.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
It passed Congress and was also ratified in

Page 15
the 1920's.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Right. Woodrow Wilson signed it into law. Now I want to tell you how dynamic and ahead of his times D.B. Johnson was. The minute it was signed into law, he wrote Columbia University, "I want the most forward looking suffragist, most capable, most dynamic teacher of social sciences to come to Winthrop to prepare my girls to participate in the affairs of their state and community, to be more informed so they will vote intelligently." They hadn't ever cast a vote before. Of course every Negro man in South Carolina could vote under our constitution but not a white woman nor even Negro woman could vote, and there were thirty thousand more women than men in South Carolina. Dr. Johnson wrote: "Send me your most dynamic teacher. I want her to instruct our girls in the field of politics. Miss Ruth Rettinger arrived with the distinct assignment: prepare Winthrop girls to participate in their community affairs. I was at Winthrop when all of that was taking place.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Who came with Miss Rettinger? Was she the sole visiter at that time or was there a committee of women?
She became an instructor on the faculty. Later I think there were others, I can't recall, but Miss Retinger was very capable and the leader.
Was there not a citizenship school held on the

Page 16
Winthrop campus at one time in 1920 with Julia Peterkin in attendance and Mrs. Eulalie Sally in attendance?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, and that culd have been the South Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs. Dr. Johnson, as I said, was way ahead of his time. He invited Wil Lou Gray to bring her teachers of adults for training. Wil Lou had just been called from Maryland to come back to South Carolina and head the adult education movement. Nobody knew what that was. That was a new idea in those days. They didn't know that Christ had initiated when he called twelve adults about him, had started the adult education movement 2000 years ago. All Right, Dr. Johnson called Wil Lou to say, "Miss Gray, I hear you're head of a great movement in South Carolina adult education. We know nothing about it. Winthrop wants to back you, and we'll do anything to help you."
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Then as a leader in the opportunity school you could not really interest yourself in politics?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
We could involve ourselves in politics but we had to be very circumspect.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But really you were not in the Opportunity School movement when the suffrage movement was in progress.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, no.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
This was later.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
This was much later.

Page 17
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But you were really not terribly aware of Mrs. Eulalie Salley and her work in the equal suffrage league then.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I remember Mrs. Eulalie Salley moving the house from Edgefield to Aiken.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
That was 1926.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, I remember she was an active citizen.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did that make a splash in the South Carolina news?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, yes. That was great news.
I don't have any real memory of the woman's suffrage movement except in all of those years—I want to say this to make it clear— the women through the Federation of Women's Clubs—that's where I worked—were very aware that the South Carolina constitution gave us no right to vote. Men could vote but no white woman. And in our Council for the Common Good, which was part of it, we championed the right of the women to vote.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you remember what years we're talking about?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, till Governor Robert E. MacNair—two years ago, signed the bill.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I see. So too was Ms. Salley. She appeared, I think, when at last South Carolina ratified the measure.

Page 18
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes. I made two or three speeches in the State House fighting for woman's right to vote.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Is that so?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, I did. I appeared before the senate, and once I appeared before the senate and the house and I made my plea for women to have their rights as full-fledged citizens.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you remember what years these were?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you have these remarks on typescript?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, that was just part of my duty.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
The founder of the Equal Suffrage League in South Carolina was a woman from Cheraw named Mrs. Harriett Powe Lynch. Were you aware of her activities?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No. I knew Lila Moore.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Powe—P-O-W-E.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I knew a Mrs. Moore who was a Lynch and came from Conway; and she was in the Federation of Women's Clubs with us, and listed in United We Stand. All came out flat—footed for equal rights and we stepped out bravely. I remember going to Senator Speigner of, Columbia he's dead now, and laying the problem on the table.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was his response?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
He was all right but the legislature still

Page 19
vetoed the bill. They were adament.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
. . . the Equal Rights Amendment?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Right.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Lucretia Mott Amendment.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you know that Senator Benjamin R. Tillman opposed suffrage for women?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Well I'm sure they all did.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But you say Pres. D.B. Johnson did not oppose it?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, he was for it. I'm saying that if he were living today, he would vote for Winthrop to be co-ed. I was against the co-ed movement at first myself, but I changed. I know that he would have followed the trends of the time and jumped ahead.
I have to say so because I voted the other way. Up at Winthrop while attending the Alumni Association I said, "Now, from now on out I'm for co-education for Winthrop."
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But you think that Mr. Johnson, Dr. Johnson, favored suffrage? He was not outspoken about it, let me say; I read some of his papers. He could not be, I suppose with Sen. Tillman having such influence . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Right.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
. . . and Sen. Tillman opposed it. I know he did. I've read letters that he wrote in opposition to

Page 20
Ms. Salley and to Ms. Bessie Duncan in Aiken and others. It's interesting to me that Pres. Johnson probably supported it but, in general, kept it rather quiet; except in so far as he brought suffrage to the campus. Did he bring any others besides Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, in addition to Jane Addams?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, and a feminist . . . a feminist . . . I forget her name; also Cora Wilson Stewart was terrific. She was head of the Moonlight Schools in Kentucky. I don't know that she was an advocate of woman's rights but I'm sure she was. She was a great leader in adult education.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did Carrie Chapman Catt come to Rock Hill at all?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Maybe, but I wasn't there.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Maud Wood Park?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Uhm.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did she not come . . . ? Did the national organizer who was sent to South Carolina several times come to Rock Hill? Her name was Lola Trax?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
If so, I wasn't there. You see, I was there intermittently at Rock Hill and so I answer that.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Yes. Were you aware at all of the existence of the National Woman's Party at that time? Were you

Page 21
aware of what they were doing on a national basis?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I'll tell you when I became aware. They put me on a program about woman's suffrage and I dug in and went back to 1828 to the World Conference on Slavery in London We sent women and they wouldn't seat them because they were women. Later I became president of the AAUW The founder and promoter of AAUW was a Marian Tolbert up in Boston. She opened the doors to women in the colleges and in every way she could. Later to woman's suffrage and everything. And I'd give programs to the clubs and make speeches in behalf of suffrage.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Yes, on suffrage . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
. . . on suffrage.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But do you remember the Woman's Party and its activities in Charleston? Did they not receive publicity?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I'm sure . . . Wil Lou and I were talking about it and her cousin, Mrs. Nathaniel B. Dial, wife of the senator, who fought it, he fought suffrage. Her cousin in Charleston —and I thought her name was a Mrs. Tucker —she was eligible from the Saint Cecilia and all the way back. She stood up and out for women's suffrage. You ask Wil Lou about that because that's important. I'm sure she was very much up-to-date on the subject, woman's suffrage.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But were you not aware of Alice Paul's leadership? Alice Paul was a New Jersey woman who put together

Page 22
the Woman's Party and gave it leadership. It had been the Congressional Union, part of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association but it broke away becasuse Alice Paul and her followers believed that you should work for a federal amendment to the Constitution, that it was too long and too painstaking to go state by state through the legislators and legislatures. So the Woman's Party picketed the White House . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Somebody recently told us about Alice Paul and said, "You certainly ought to know her." Was it written up recently in Heritage, Sandlapper?
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I don't know.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I think it was. And somebody said, "Marguerite Tolbert knows about that," and I didn't.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Well, Alice Paul had a coterie of followers in Charleston, devoted followers. And Charleston women served on the national level, and in South Carolina too. The chairman in South Carolina of the Woman's Party was Mrs. Helen Vaughan in Greenville.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't remember that.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I just was wondering if you were aware . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
You see, I jumped from this to that, so often what I do recall lacks continuity.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you remember Miss Susan Pringle Proust

Page 23
and her work for suffrage in Charleston?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, but I worked very closely with Washington Green Fingle in Charlestown. She was assistant county superintendent of education.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Oh yes. That's your field now, education.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I was invited to Charleston for a week. They wrote Dr. D. B. Johnson, President of Winthrop, to send them somebody who could help evaluate their school program, discuss their testing program, who would step on the stage before all the teachers of the county for demonstrations, and who would also work miracles with the Negroes. That was a big assignment for one week.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Yes, what year was that?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What decade?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I'll tell you. That was when I was first at Winthrop and I would say it was in the early 1920's. Dr. Johnson chose me. I had never seen Charleston, even though I was teaching at the training school. Think of that! My own state. I made the trip to Charleston enthusiastically. Washington Green Pringle met me. They treated me like a king. I worked as hard as I ever worked in my life and I gave demonstrations on the stage with thirty children. I cut it to thirty because you couldn't have more than thirty chairs on the stage. And

Page 24
they' say, "We want a demonstration in math." "We want a demonstration in the social sciences." "We want at least one lesson in spelling. How do you do that up at the training school at Winthrop?" And I never gave so abundantly or so enthusiastically or stayed up as late at night. When it was over, they gave me a big party and a ticket to the Gardens! That was one of the highlights. I had never seen Middleton and Magnolia Gardens, but I did for the first time.
They also gave me a sampling of some delectable low country food. Then they put me on the train, Sunday night after a week, and gave me a giant pecan log. I'd never heard of a pecan log—famous Charleston candy. I came on to Columbia, spent the night in the station—and got into Rock Hill the next day about ten-thirty. But that experience was something to write home about. But my experience with the Charleston Negroes was exciting. I'd never worked with the Negroes, and before I left Dr. Johnson asked: "Can you call them ‘mister’ and ‘misses’?" I said, "I never have." He said, "Well, call 'em ‘professor’ if you can, because you must be professional." And when the Negroes gave me a piece of chalk, they'd put a piece on a little scrap of paper on their hand and the chalk was on it and presented it to me while I was demonstrating the class to the teachers. Those were days, very different.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Very different.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I'm afraid I can't focus as much on this lib

Page 25
movement or suffrage movement all through the years. But oh, I made speech after speech on the subject.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I'd like to see a written speech, if you have some.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I might have one; I don't know.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I'd appreciate you're seeing and then writing to me if you find such a speech.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
If I can find it. I've been throwing them away. Often sometimes, I know Mrs. John Swearinger would have several of the clubs to come together, and I talked on the status of women. I was president of the Status of Women Conference.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
In the AAUW?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, The Status of Women Conference in South Carolina.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
The commission.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
It was called the Status of Women's Conference.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I think it's been headed quite recently by Mary Calvert, has it not?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, but she was head of it once, I think. I can easily find it.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you remember any parades for woman's suffrage, either hearing about them in the state or seeing them in your community?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No parades except we'd hear about them.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What did you hear? Any anecdotes, any interesting

Page 26
incidents?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Wil Lou, who studied at Columbia University, would come back and tell us about the parades in New York. They had many great parades down Fifth Avenue for this and that. And then
I would read, in the Literary Digest all about the activities in England, how they paraded over there—Miss Pankhurst and all of them . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But I mean in South Carolina. Did you hear of any parades in South Carolina, in the state?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Uh uh, no.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you hear of any rallies in South Carolina, special meetings for suffrage . . . special groupings coming together and hearing a speaker address them on suffrage? . . . Of course you experienced that one when Dr. Anna Howard Shaw came to Winthrop. So you actually were in attendance at one such rally . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Uh huh.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Were there any others that you could think of?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, not per se. I can remember calling AAUW women to gather en masse at the State House to keep our compulsory education law intact.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
She replied to Dr. Johnson: "You could do plenty because I have to train my teachers for adult work. And I want it to be centered around adult education and good citizenship. The focus

Page 27
will be on good citizenship, and I want to train those teachers before they go out to teach. Dr. Johnson replied, "Bring them to Winthrop College. I'll board them free, gratis and for nothing. I'll give them their board and training and let you send them out all over South Carolina." There were thousands of illiterates in our state.
She'll tell you this afternoon how many could not even sign their names, read and write or figure. So, Wil Lou focused on a good program of citizenship. Be sure and ask her about her little civics book that was written under her guidance at Columbia University for South Carolina students.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Very interesting. When you were at Winthrop in those two years before ratification, teaching, what kind of extra-activities did you engage in?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
At that time we were learning that you could not use the old Ichabod Crane attitude toward students to learn. It was breaking down. And I want to give credit to Winthrop for breaking away from the past and focusing on what I call constructive, good, progressive education, which we based on the interests and needs of our students. We did teach just a textbook. We used textbooks and many good books of all kinds. We centered on units, and I would like to mention one: October the seventh, 1931 or 1932.

Page 28
The president of the United States, Hoover, was coming to King's Mountain State Park for the big dedication under the D.A.R., and mark October 7 as the turning point of the American revolution. I took my group at the training school and we focused on how we broke from the past, from England.
All of my boys and girls studied the details of that battle of King's Mountain where Hoover was to speak. We planned to go over there the day he was there, but we had to work hard and read and study and learn that situation. Even now I can see one little boy who played the part of Campbell. One was somebody else; half had to be English . . . the colonist half. They had to be American. Somebody was Old Ferguson—he rode his horse and took his mistress into the battle with him, and she was killed and his horse was killed and he was killed. And everybody to this day throws a rock on their graves. There's a mound of stones even now. Well; we studied; we read; we acted out the battle. The parents co-operated and we focused on good citizenship.
They had to give their lives, they fought for the liberation of the colonies from the old country.
And finally the day came. Oh, we had gone over beforehand and they had dramatized the battle. The cutest thing you ever saw, those young children. And when they struck you with their homemade guns and what not, you would fall over dead. You had to stay dead too. At any

Page 29
rate, October the seventh came. The whole of South Carolina was concerned; the President was coming. Dr. D. W. Daniel of Clemson College was to introduce him—the wit of the state. And my class came. And Mrs. Hoover was there, and the security was there; all of the people and all of this was most exciting to my class of forty. The mountain breezes came across the beautiful mountain where Hoover was speaking and blew his speech all over the mountain side, and he couldn't say a word without his notes. My little boys jumped quickly and they gathered together the president's speech and gave it to the security officers. They in turn presented the notes back to the president and the show went on. My students felt such a part of it all.
Oh, I helped to develop another unit when Tutankhamun's tomb was unearthed in 1922.
We started from there, how man kept his records through the years.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Old King Tut.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
King Tut! King Tut. And the Portland Cement Company—you see that pyramid was made of cement, I think—they advertised it and the students picked it up. We studied the records of man from papyrus in the Nile and the Babylonian clay tablets to the Phoenicians who gave us

Page 30
the alphabet on up to the Greeks, the intellectuals of the age, when democracy was in action. And how the Romans conquered them and Nero was responsible for the crucifixion of Christ and the burning of Rome and the catacombs. We studied all of that. It was most exciting. They made clay tablets. They didn't talk about them. They made papyrus with strips and wrote on it and copied the hieroglyphics and came on up to the Dead Sea. You know the findings of the Dead Sea were most important.
It was the scrolls of the Dead Sea that were found, I believe.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Yes, I've seen them.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Did you see them at the British Museum?
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I saw them at Claremont, California. There was a travelling exhibit.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Right.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How did you become interested in political affairs? I think you were, because you were active to some degree in the suffrage movement.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
At my father's and mother's knees. I came through the era when Benjamin Ryan Tillman rose in South Carolina and was trying to emancipate the farmer and the common man and the poor man, and he became the first governor interested in the farmer. He was called "Pitchfork Ben". And then I went to Winthrop and there I ran into Ben personally and his daughter Sally May. She and I sat together in class—a brilliant girl she was.

Page 31
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was her name again?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Sally May Tillman, and she's out in Seattle now, Sally May Schuller. I graduated from Winthrop with honors but I worked for mine. But Sally May could just glance at a page and it was hers.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But your hearing about Ben Tillman's political organization and political career . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
My father was against old Ben. We were against Ben and we fought against Cole L. Blease, who came from Newberry, who they said was the offspring of Ben Tillman. But I learned later to respect Ben Tillman in my old age, in many ways, and at Winthrop too though I disliked him because he didn't give us any holidays. Old times at Winthrop, when you went in September, you stayed till June. Then later, he did give us Christmas holidays. He was dynamic; oh, he was dynamic and brilliant. It would take forever to discuss that. But I went to the political meetings with my father in Laurens Park.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Back in Laurens County.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Laurens County, right in town.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was your father then, as well as being an insurance broker, also active in civic affairs?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Very, very much.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
In what capacity?

Page 32
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
In the church and the city. He was just a moving power for good. He would come in and we kept up with everything; politics were discussed around the table. They didn't have very many magazines then. We took the Literary Digest. And they aired the scandal about Teapot Dome. I can see my father coming in now. We kept up with that scandal—worse than Watergate in those days. The Republicans came out and said, [singing] "Oh, we ain't gonna steal no more, no more, We ain't gonna steal no more," and the Literary Digest says, "How in the hell can the country tell You ain't gonna steal no more?"
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Oh, good Lord, that's rare. [laughter]
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, those were rich days!
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was your father mayor or city councilman?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No. No, but he was a big leader in the Methodist church and in civic affairs.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was his first name?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
James Franklin Tolbert.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And your mother's name?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Emma—that is her portrain in 1896.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Emma?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Emma Medora Gray. She went to Lander College, which was then called Williamston Female College. And my father was taught by old Dr. Samuel Lander, the founder of Williamston Female College, which is now Lander College in Greenwood.

Page 33
My father taught school. He taught Miss Ida Jane Dacus, librarian at Winthrop. And I never went into Miss Dacus's office unless she said, "Your father taught me my ABC's." So it was kind of at our father's and mother's feet we were interested in politics and public affairs.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How did you become interested in equal rights for women? Do you remember any incident, perhaps?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, yes. We were all against it at first.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Can you remember about what decade you were first aware of it at all?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, yes indeed! When I was in the high school there were three literary societies . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
In town. What were their names?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I can't remember.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But anyway . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I represented one society at commencement. Each had speakers. Rebecca Dial [she's listed in our book] the daughter of United States Senator N.B. Dyer, she represented the other society. Now it might have been—yeah that's right . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
High school. [interruption]
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, I may have told you there were three literary societies.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Yes.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
But there were three at Winthrop and only one at the Laurens high school, I think.

Page 34
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I see. But now, in the high school . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
But in the high school they elected three people to speak at commencement.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And you were one.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
And Rebecca Dial —her father was a United States senator—and Kate Wofford and I.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you speak on suffrage?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
The Brookfarm experiment was my subject.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you talk about Margaret Fuller.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, yes; all of that and I have often run into references to that experiment. I read it at Aunt Mary's and she suggested I write on it, and I followed her suggestion. And Kate Wofford wrote on Suffrage for Women.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And what did she say?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, she was dynamic; way ahead of her time. We thought she was plebian because she believed in votes for women. It wasn't approved in polite society, "votes for women." And then this wonderful person from Laurens County, none other than Mary Yeargin, who was graduated from Columbia College in the early days, left Laurens and went to Cornell University and became so way out and so modern. When she came back, Wil Lou said she was a little tyke, her aunts and her neighbors would sit together and whisper, "Mary came back believing in woman's suffrage!" That was

Page 35
the worst thing you could have said about anybody.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did she inspire Kate Wofford do you think?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't know, but it was just the awakening of the times. It could have been in some way. I'm sure Kate knew the story of Mary Yeargen, who was drowned while boating at Cornell University.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Kate Wofford?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, Mary Yeargen. It's all in here; you'll have a good time reading this book. But Kate Wofford was a red-headed highlight a, dynamo from Winthrop College. She had a little twang in her speech. She came boldly on the stage with her arguments for Woman Suffrage. She eclipsed Rebecca Dial, my friend, and me, all to pieces of course. She won the prize [laughter] on woman's suffrage.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What arguments did she use in favor of woman's suffrage? Do you remember?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, to this day.
A woman was made in the image of God just as a man was.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
She made this a point in her speech?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, that was her point. And that she was entitled to all the privileges of citizens. She shouldn't be a chattel and be sold like a horse and a cow, and so on; that she was a human being, an individual worthy of her rights. And believe me, she knocked a home-run. And my red-headed Aunt Mary, who had coached me, didn't want to speak to the

Page 36
judges because they didn't give it to me. [laughter] I look back with mature appreciation. She earned it and she got it and I'm so glad because she was way ahead of her time, you see.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
You and she both went up to Winthrop, did you not?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, yes and we kept up with each other. And by the way, when I stood that examination for the scholarship she stood it too. And I beat the brilliant red-headed Kate Wofford that time. I won the scholarship.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So when you were at Winthrop your eyes had been opened to this new demand by women for the vote. Was there an organization for equal rights for women at Winthrop?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, not then. There might have been; as of now I know of no such organization.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did not Kate Wofford attempt to put together a little group, a pro-suffrage group?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
She may have; I don't think so. Her years at Winthrop were interupted by the War and she went to Washington, served as yeoman in the navy, then came back and assumed responsibility—there may have been eight or nine children in her family, and each one would assist the next one through college. So, she and I did not graduate in 1914 together. She was a

Page 37
very wonderful person.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
She didn't put together a little organization to discuss suffrage? Someone remembered that she did—a Miss Alma Lewis. Did you know Alma Lewis?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, and I think that could have been.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But you were not a part of it?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I was not and I don't recall that at all.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I know that there was a national organization for college women called the National Collegiate Equal Suffrage League, and I just wondered if her effort was to put together a chapter of that at Winthrop?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Well, she may have. I want you to know that D.B. Johnson, again always ahead of his times, had invited the head of the Feminist Movement of the World to come to Winthrop. I forget her name.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Was she an English woman?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Sylvia Pankhurst?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
It wasn't Miss Pankhurst. See, he became imbued with woman's suffrage; D. B. Johnson did. He also invited the wonderful, thrilling, brilliant Dr. Anna Howard Shaw—one of the first women who ever became a doctor, a real M. D.; the first woman who ever became a minister in the Methodist

Page 38
church; the first woman who ever applied at Johns Hopkins to become a member of the medical college and they wouldn't accept her. Finally they put her in a balcony behind a screen, and there was a little crack in the screen and she sat there with pencil and chalk and she dared to look at a naked human body. (I reckon they called it streaking then.) A naked human body, in the group of students who were studying the body and its different parts and functions. She told us personally of that, and we could ask her questions. It was like stealing the crumbs from the table. And she finally became a great Methodist, (I'm Methodist so I remember that point.) And she was one of the greats who blazed the trail for women.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And she spoke at . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
. . . at Winthrop.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Winthrop. You don't remember what year, but probably 1917 to 1920, somewhere in there.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I believe so. Jane Addams also came to Winthrop.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
She came to Winthrop?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, I could tell you lovely stories about that. That was exciting. Everything was keyed up from the student body to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dunlap who lived next door. Poinsette, who was the Negro chauffeur, met her in Charlotte, in the college car.

Page 39
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Miss Addams?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Miss Addams of Hull House. And she was to come and share her story. It was the most exciting thing you ever heard.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did she raise the question of suffrage for women during her stay at Winthrop, at all?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't recall. But she was the walking exhibit of a wonderful woman and, of course, Hull House. That was the tenement where every nationality was taught to respect their own people and their own tongue and their own language and customs; they would come together at Hull House and exchange ideas, would learn to live together and get along with each other.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
When Dr. Shaw spoke at Winthrop, did she speak about economic opportunity for women or did she focus her address on the vote, woman's suffrage? Do you remember?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't. Those days were hectic like this. But I can't remember an analysis of the speech.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Just the point she made?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
No, I just remember the person, what she stood for. They opened the doors to us women—in our thinking.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What were the responses in Rock Hill, generally, to the appearance of Dr. Shaw and to the suffrage movement?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I would say, the same as everywhere else. The old-timers were holding on to the past and there was

Page 40
the new generation coming up [might have been a generation gap—we didn't call it that] who lived in this new age of women.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Would you say that the students at Winthrop leaned along in that direction toward women's suffrage or were they apathetic as a whole?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I think they had to be stimulated.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
You think that they favored suffrage and . . .
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
But they had to be stimulated, I think. They were so engrossed in this and that, it required a good deal of stimulation. I think that's the reason that D.B. Johnson wanted Miss Rettinger to come.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you believe, then, that Dr. Johnson and the other administrators at Winthrop favored suffrage for women?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Oh, I think they did. I don't think all of them did, but I think most of them did.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you ever hear any anti-suffrage sentiment at Winthrop?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't think so. I don't recall any. I really don't. But I can remember the feud about salaries for men and women. That also fell right in my lap when I had, during World War II, to set up a camp for underprivileged boys. I had to get the best. It was during war and you couldn't get

Page 41
men on your staff. Finally I interviewed Bill Dillard who was sophmore coach, at Clemson I challenged him to come and help me. I couldn't get him without paying him more than I was paying my women teachers and helpers. So, for the first time in my life, I was up against it as an administrator. So I came home worried. "You've been saying all along ‘equal pay for equal service’ backed by equal experience, but it has to be altered by the situation." The whole of South Carolina was overrun with dilinquent boys. The coaches and recreation leaders were abroad in the war. Citizens poured to Columbia to interview the state superintendent of education: "for heaven's sakes, help us with our lawless youth group."
CONSTANCE MYERS:
This was in the forties?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes. "Do something! They're breaking out the windows in the mills, in the churches, and running riot and filling up the penitentiary." We didn't have juvenile judges then. "Something has to be done!" Dr. J. H. Hope put the baby on my front doorstep.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
So it was a matter of need.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
It was a matter of emergency. So I called my teachers together. I got the finest teachers in the state. Most of them came from Parker school district because they knew good progressive education; they knew how to inspire campers to study, they knew trees and birds and fishing and hiking and all those things that I wanted my boys to know, as well as good

Page 42
methods of teaching. I admitted, "I'm not paying you what I'm paying the head men at this camp. Why?—it's a matter of necessity." And I had to have men for boys. The boys came there drinking, chewing tobacca and stealing. Believe you me, we had a challenge. It was exciting. But right there, pinpoint that point, several women protested their salaries were lower than the men's.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you remember at Winthrop if there was much talk among the student body about that episode? Was the student body aware when Miss Nettie Wyson and Miss Hughes were fired?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't think it percolated down too much, but we all were concerned that Miss Wyson and Miss Hughes dared to be leaders in demanding equal salaries with the men. Now when Phelps was there, he fired teachers without a hearing, and that's when they dropped us from the AAUW. That's what Winthrop became: notorious from coast to coast. We were not recognized by AAUW for years on end.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Why did Mr. Phelps fire teachers?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Because of tenure, something about tenure.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And they must have been women teachers.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes, two women teachers. He was urged

Page 43
to do it by others on the faculty, even by women on the faculty who ought to have nown better and known that you couldn't break tenure. See what I mean?
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I see.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
AAUW and Dr. Johnson had struggled to get us approved by the American Association of University women and Miss Fraser too—they dropped us like a hotcake. I became state president of the AAUW and I became a champion to get Winthrop back on the accepted list. But there it was and Winthrop stayed off for years on end.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Back at the time of Miss Wyson's and Miss Hughes's firing do you remember the protest resignations of three other instructors? There were three protest resignations at that time.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Was it Miss Jones?
CONSTANCE MYERS:
No, I've forgotten the names now but there were three that resigned in protest. It's all on the record in the Winthrop archives and I've been through them. The faculty as a whole didn't write a letter of protest and sign, affix signatures, asking that they be re-instated, did they?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I'm sure that I would recall, if they did.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Too dangerous an action really.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Yes.

Page 44
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And the board stood by Dr. Johnson; actually each blamed the other it seems. The record indicates that Johnson and Spencer said that it was the board's decision and the board said it was Johnson's decision. I wonder what became of Miss Wyson and Miss Hughes. I understand Miss Hughes is living in Clearwater, Florida. I don't know what she did after that though. What did Miss Wyson do? Where did they go?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't know. Miss Wyson was a Latin teacher.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What happened to their careers after that?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
I don't know, but I think Miss Wyson went to New York, where she taught.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did she?
Oh, she taught in New York.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Either coached or taught.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How aware were you of the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League and what it was doing?
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Very little.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I imagine you r ad, now and then, comments in the Columbia paper.
MARGUERITE TOLBERT:
Very, very little. And another thing as an educator you couldn't dive into politics too much, as I learned later. I might have done it as a youth but later . . .
END OF INTERVIEW