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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Young, February 14, 1972. Interview G-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Faculty and students at the Hampton Institute

Young describes what it was like to teach at the Hampton Institute in Norfolk, Virginia, following her tenure at Paine College. The Hampton Institute was founded by Congregationists from the North and Young recalls that when she taught there from 1922 to 1925, she was one of only two white southerners on the faculty. The rest of the faculty was composed of white northerners and a few African Americans. Although the racial dynamics on the faculty were quite different than those at Paine College, where most of the faculty were African American, Young describes that the student body was quite similar.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Young, February 14, 1972. Interview G-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

So I took the Hampton position, then I left there three years later to come back to Scarritt College where I taught for 32 years. A gentleman who thought I was doing very wrong said I didn't seem to understand the social prestige that went with teaching at Hampton Institute. And I was able to tell him that it had no social prestige in this part of the country, teaching at Hampton Institute, a Negro college and it wasn't social prestige in any sense that had drawn me there. But I tell you that story because it really did have great social prestige in the North. It was founded by Congregationist, Boston folk for the most part, and General Armstrong was a great character and so on. There really were delightful Northern people there. Very well educated, it was very well endowed and it was beautifully equipped.
Were most of the teachers and administrators white?
Yes. There were white Northern people. I would tell them it was not Hampton Institute Virginia, it was Hampton Institute Massachusetts. And it very much was. And I was the only . . .
Abolitionist . . .
That's right. And the only other southern white person . . . I want to make sure of this . . . the only other southern white person on the faculty was a Quaker who taught weaving. She was from North Carolina. She said, I've been waiting for you for twenty years. But she and I were the only southern white people on the faculty. And of course the Negroes who mainly taught in the trade schools, but some of them in the college too some very able gifted Negroes were on the faculty. If you happen to be musical you know the name of , the composer. He was in charge of music. But it was really a very lovely delightful group of people from the standpoint of social amenities.
The students were very much from the upper middleclass?
Yes, the students were very much like our Paine College students I'd say. They were poor a lot of them but they were ambitious. I think that in my experience the ambitious, well brought up, well behaved poor people are, especially from the South, they have just as good manners and, I mean there's no breach there. It's been poor people are not ambitious and are not well brought up, and are not courteous. And I really think if you want to say one good thing about the South you would say that the rule of courtesy goes . . . used to anyway . . . almost all the way down. However poor people are, they tend to be gentle and courteous to each other and it's partly the rural of it maybe, I don't know what it is. So that the only really strange group at Hampton of Negroes were the gullah Negroes from the South Carolina coast. And they could really hardly be understood. They were very black and their speech was difficult. And they were so shy that it would be that they would have to be on the campus six months or so before they got over the strangeness and we got over the strangeness of their speech. But the other Negroes were almost all of them southerners. A few northern Negroes would come down to Hampton. But now if you talk about isolation, they were just as isolated but it was a very rich community.