Title: Oral History Interview with Willie Snow Ethridge, December 15, 1975. Interview G-0024.
Interviewer: Kessler, Lee
Interviewee: Ethridge, Willie Snow
Subjects: Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching Women writers--Southern States Women civil rights workers--Georgia Women journalists--Georgia
Abstract: Willie Snow Ethridge was born in Georgia at the turn of the twentieth century. By the early 1920s, she had become a successful writer and had married Mark Ethridge, also a writer and newspaper editor. Ethridge explains that she initially became a writer in order to learn more about the career of her husband-to-be. When he was in Europe during World War I, Ethridge studied journalism at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Shortly after graduating, Ethridge began to work as a reporter and continued to do freelance writing after getting married and starting her family in 1921. Ethridge spent most of the 1920s and early 1930s in Georgia, with brief sojourns in New York City and Washington, D.C. By the end of the 1930s, she and her husband had settled in Louisville, Kentucky (they later moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina). During those years, Ethridge began to write books, ranging from informal essays to fiction to travel guides. According to Ethridge, her husband was generally supportive, if not encouraging, of her career over the years. In addition to discussing her efforts to combine career and family, Ethridge also offers revealing commentary about race and gender. During the 1920s and 1930s, Ethridge was actively involved in the anti-lynching movement. Working primarily within the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, Ethridge both wrote and spoke about lynching and its implications for African Americans and poor whites. In addition, Ethridge explains how her mother hoped she would grow up to be a "good Baptist girl," and she discusses what it was like to court young men while coming of age in a strict religious family in the South. Of particular interest are her comments regarding the lack of sexual knowledge she had while growing up. Her discussion of attitudes towards sex leads her to ruminate about the feminist movement and the sexual revolution, both at their height at the time of the interview in 1975. Despite her advocacy of women's right to have both career and family, Ethridge concludes the interview by describing her general disapproval of the growing tendency of men and women to live together and have sex outside of marriage during those years.