Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jessie Lee Carter, May 5, 1980. Interview H-0237. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Quitting work to become a full-time mother

Carter stopped working in the textile mill the day she was married, she recalls. Her husband did not believe that a married woman raising a family should be a working woman as well.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jessie Lee Carter, May 5, 1980. Interview H-0237. 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

ALLEN TULLOS:
When did you have your first child?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
1920.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Were you still working in the mill?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
No, I wasn't working. I didn't work any more after I married.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Why was that?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
My husband didn't want me to work, so I didn't work. He was like my daddy. My daddy said it wasn't a woman's place to work in the mill that had family. She's supposed to be home. And that's the way my husband felt. After my baby boy got up—he was about eleven years old—I did go back to Brandon and I worked five years.
ALLEN TULLOS:
So when did you finally quit the mill?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
I just worked five years after I was married. We moved to the country then. So he was a farmer. He farmed all his life.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Who was a farmer?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
My husband. So we moved to the country, Powdersville.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Powdersville, South Carolina?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
Yeah. It's down toward Anderson. My daughter still lives there, my oldest daughter.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Let me go back and get it straight, now. You worked until after your first child was born?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
No, I didn't work from the day I was married until my last child was born and he was about nine or ten years old. Then I worked five years and I haven't worked any since. Never have been in the mill since. No, I think I did go down here one night with my son-in-law, just to see the work they put in, the new stuff. And I went to see if I could spin on that work.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Could you?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
Yeah. And a section hand come over there and he told me, ‘Well, I know it's changed, but you can spin as good as you ever could. You know, that's one thing you never forget.’ He said, ‘The day you learn to spin, you never forget it.’ I said, ‘Well, I could put up a just as good as I ever could.’
ALLEN TULLOS:
What year was it that you married?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
I married in 1917.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And that's when you stopped working in the mill?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
Yes, sir.