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Oral History Interview with Julia Virginia Jones, October 6, 1997. Interview J-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Julia Virginia Jones was born in rural Shelby County, North Carolina, in 1948. The civic and professional activism of her mother and grandmother weighed heavily on Jones's definition of femininity, and she points to her father's abrupt death as forming a defining moment in her perception of gender roles. Rather than assuming married life would offer her lifelong security, Jones came to realize that she needed to be able to support herself independently. Religion played a significant role in her family, as did Democratic politics. The religious lessons Jones learned included tolerance and the omnipresence of God. Given the changing racial climate of the 1960s rural South, Jones admits her disenchantment with her church. Jones purposefully chose an all-women's college, Queens College, to develop her academic and leadership skills. She married her husband immediately after her college graduation and decided to follow him along his career path. She worked as a teacher, which resulted in unhappiness, so she applied to law school, accepting a full scholarship at Wake Forest. After clerking two years for Judge Woodrow Wilson, she obtained an associate position with the Moore & Van Allen law firm. In 1990, she was elected district court judge. She was undergoing cancer treatment at the time of this interview: she affectionately labels her supportive friends and family as "Fighting Okra" because of okra's raw strength and tenacity, characteristics she sees in her supporters.
    Excerpts
  • Family legacy of rejecting conventional gender roles and supporting civic activism
  • Death of father demonstrates that marriage provided no economic security for women
  • Religious hypocrisy on social issues frustrates Jones
  • Even female-centered educational institutions harbor gender and racial biases
  • Working women violate traditional gender norms
  • Early career choices, considerations, and working relationships
  • Law firm observes gendered work relations despite attempts at rejecting gender norms
  • Decisive role in mentoring young female lawyers
  • Women attorneys forge informal alliances with each other
  • New technologies alter the way lawyers worked
  • Differences between smaller and larger legal communities determines the degree of legal cooperation
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Judges--North Carolina--History--20th century
  • Lawyers--North Carolina--History--20th century
  • North Carolina--Race relations--20th century
  • Women judges--North Carolina
  • Women lawyers--North Carolina
  • Judges--North Carolina
  • Family--North Carolina--Social life and customs
  • Cancer--Patients--Biography
  • Jones, Julia Virginia
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.