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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Margaret Anne O'Connor, July 1, 1987. Interview L-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The future is bright for women's studies

Overall, O'Connor finds that she has great hope when she considers the future of women at UNC, and she mentions several individuals who helped lead the university in that direction.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Margaret Anne O'Connor, July 1, 1987. Interview L-0031. 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

One semester, Shirley Weiss was asked to direct Women's Studies. It was a semester when the Women's Studies 50 course was not being offered, but Shirley, who is one of those old time women like Mary Turner and Berthe Marti that I mentioned earlier. She teaches in City and Regional Planning, which doesn't have a lot of options for teaching and research interest on women's issues. And yet, as a president of AAUP, she's had a lot of responsibilities, university-wide, and wanted to see the program succeed, so she agreed to direct Women's Studies that fall semester. I just wanted to put in a good word for her because while she was the director, as a matter of fact, they considered a project that was a favorite of mine--a book collection for a small North Carolina library that is called the Martha E. Chue Collection in Women's Health and Culture. This is the Clarkton Library. Martha Chue was a North Carolinian who died of breast cancer in 1984, I believe, and she had worked here in Chapel Hill. She got all of her degrees outside of the state, but she spent one year, I believe, in John Reed's NEH seminar on Southern Culture. While she was here, she worked for the state of North Carolina in doing a pamphlet on Women's Health for them, and she made a lot of friends here. And while she was here, she's also made a point of saying that she wished--she was from such a small town--she wished that her library had even a semblance of the sorts of materials that we had at the University. It just seemed to be a pilot program and a place for us to start. So with Shirley Weiss's cooperation, the board considered setting up this little fund, which really isn't money. It's more just sort of moral support and collecting books that faculty women, for the most part, have donated. Trudier Harris, who was a member of the board then and is a member of my department, has been overseeing the Chue Collection. I still think that there is an incredible commitment by women on this campus to Women's Studies, not in terms of individual personalities, but as it is taught by women all over campu--like Beverly Long, Shirley Weiss, Judith Bennett, and people that I've mentioned earlier, Marilyn Scott in the German Department and Connie Eble in my department as well and Thad Davis. Gosh, I want to get them all in. There is a real feeling that Women's Studies serves a very valuable function on this campus. The students, male and female, are very excited about Women's Studies classes, and it's true that if a faculty member just has an issues-oriented class, they put more time and energy into it. They have to redo it, even if it's material they know very well. They look at it from a different perspective, and that's one of the strengths that the Women's Studies Program has always had to offer the undergraduate population here, a kind of a vitality. And that vitality is still here. The commitment is still here, and I have a lot of confidence in the future of Women's Studies at UNC.