Title: Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001.
Interviewer: Frederickson, Mary
Interviewee: Adamson, Mary Price
Subjects: Women social reformers--North Carolina Women in politics--North Carolina
Abstract: Beginning with her family background and early childhood, Mary Price Adamson traces the dynamics that led her to adopt her radical stance later in life. Because both of her parents had attended college, Adamson and her siblings were encouraged to pursue higher education. Though her father's death placed the family in serious financial difficulties, Adamson's older brothers paid for her to attend college. She enrolled first in the North Carolina College for Women and then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her degree in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression. For a time, she worked in Greensboro, starting at the Greensboro Daily News and then the Vick Chemical Company, where she learned secretarial skills. Shortly thereafter, she joined her sister Mildred and brother-in-law Harold Coy in New York City, where she moved through a series of secretarial positions. She describes how young professionals lived and socialized during the Great Depression. In the late 1930s, she accompanied her sister and brother-in-law on a trip to the Soviet Union, and when she returned, she went to work for Walter Lippmann. After several years with him, she took a job as an assistant reporter for Business Week. In 1945, she left New York and returned to North Carolina to open the state office of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare. When Henry Wallace ran for governor in 1948, Adamson organized his campaign tour through the South, and eventually the members of the Progressive Party convinced her to run for North Carolina's governorship. That summer, Elizabeth Bentley—an acquaintance from New York City—accused Adamson of being a Soviet spy. For the next decade, Adamson battled McCarthyism and accusations of Communism. In 1950, she had a serious accident and went to Europe to recuperate. While abroad, she met and married Charles Adamson. When she returned, she found that the FBI still considered her a person of interest, a fact that made it hard for her to keep jobs. Eventually, however, she went to work for the National Council of Churches, a position she enjoyed greatly. However, a second serious accident forced her to retire early and move to California to recuperate.
NOTE: Audio for this interview is not available.