' The Thomas E. Watson Papers Digital Collection : Oral Histories
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The Thomas E. Watson Papers Digital Collection

Oral Histories

georgia watson cravenThe Thomas E. Watson Papers collection contains six audio tapes of oral histories with Georgia Watson Craven, Thomas E. Watson's granddaughter. Mrs. Craven discusses her life as a child, her grandfather, and growing up around the Watson family home (Hickory Hill). She also discusses how historical events affected her family, the political atmosphere around her family's work, and the preparations for her grandfather's funeral.

The image above and to the right is of Mrs. Georgia Doremus Watson Craven as a young woman. View the entire image here.

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Interview 1 Transcript (transcript only)

Interview with Georgia Watson Craven by Tom Watson Brown
Tom Watson Brown (Thomas E. Watson's great-grandson) interviews Georgia Doremus Watson Craven (Brown's first cousin once removed and Thomas E. Watson's granddaughter) about the details of the Watson homestead -- Hickory Hill -- during her childhood, when she spent much time there with Thomas E. Watson and Georgia Durham Watson. She describes each room, including decorations and furniture; the gardens and grounds; when particular parts of the house were constructed and how each room was used; visitors who frequented the house; and her childhood memories of life at Hickory Hill. Interspersed throughout are detailed stories about family members, as well as descriptions of their physical appearances, health, and habits. Georgia also discusses lifestyle during her childhood, including refrigeration and lighting, and Thomas E. Watson's printing plant. Near the end of the interview, Tom Watson Brown briefly discusses his perceptions of racial prejudice as a Southerner living in the North.


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Interview 2, Tape 1 (transcript and audio)

Interview with Georgia Watson Craven by David Moltke-Hansen
Georgia Watson Craven discusses childhood memories of her grandfather Thomas E. Watson's home in Thomson, Ga.; the physical terrain and flora and fauna of the Old South homestead, known as Hickory Hill; Grandmother Watson (Georgia Durham Watson); how the household was run; Watson's dining habits and dinner guests; social exchange and subjects of conversation at mealtime; the history of the old barn and its importance to Watson; his love of riding and his eating habits; learning to dance from her grandfather; Watson's love of music and fascination with trees; discussion of the original layout of Hickory Hill and the additional rooms that were added, as well as how each room was used. [30 minutes, 54 seconds]

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Interview 2, Tape 2 (transcript and audio)

Interview with Georgia Watson Craven by David Moltke-Hansen
Continuation of the description of the rooms in Hickory Hill, including Thomas E. Watson's study, the bedrooms, the attic, and the wrap-around porch; how life was conducted at table: formalities, how meals were served and by whom, behavior required of children, guests and conversation topics; memories of the Old South including relative isolation and seasonal availabilty of foods; mention of great-grandfather Durham; meat and dairy at Hickory Hill; how all the pets were named after politicians of the day; her grandfather's love of birds; his attitude towards drinking; her grandfather's attitude towards different Christian denominations; Georgia Watson Craven's thoughts on the personal versus political of her grandfather's campaign against Roman Catholicism; the role books played in her life at Hickory Hill including the impact the book "Grandmother's Stories From the Land of Used to Be" of historical stories from the South; books that her grandfather read or gave her. [22 minutes, 36 seconds]

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Interview 2, Tape 3 (transcript and audio)

Interview with Georgia Watson Craven by David Moltke-Hansen
The role books played in Georgia Watson Craven's life at Hickory Hill including the impact of the book "Grandmother's Stories From the Land of Used to Be" with historical stories from the South; books that her grandfather read or gave her; nineteenth century Romanticism and her perception of its presence in her grandfather's writings, in particular "Bethany"; the effect his account of Joan of Arc had on her; her grandfather's deep identification with the Old South; dinner and supper at her grandfather's house; his view of education; the public school in Thompson and her grandfather's decision to school the children privately at first. [23 minutes, 46 seconds]

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Interview 2, Tape 4 (transcript and audio)

Interview with Georgia Watson Craven by David Moltke-Hansen
Continuation of the discussion on education: Thomas E. Watson decision to send Georgia Watson Craven to the National Cathedral high school in Washington, D.C.; his support of her intention to go to college; life in Washington, D.C.: her grandfather's interactions with people in Washington, impressions of the Capitol; attending the burial of the Unknown Soldier; the George Washington Inn; Woodrow Wilson's burial at the Bethlehem Chapel in the National Cathedral; her opinion on the mis-perception of her grandfather as a "good old boy"; the quality of isolationism in her grandfather; origins of her grandfather's feelings for the common man. [24 minutes, 30 seconds]

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Interview 2, Tape 5 (transcript and audio)

Interview with Georgia Watson Craven by David Moltke-Hansen
Discussion of the funeral for Thomas E. Watson in Thompson, Ga.; people's reaction to her grandfather's death; people's later attitudes towards her as a Watson; the social world of the Watson's and of her grandfather: "Watson people" including the Gibson family; visitors and house guests in her grandfather's home. [24 minutes, 21 seconds]

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Interview 2, Tape 6 (transcript and audio)

Interview with Georgia Watson Craven by David Moltke-Hansen
Discussion of her grandmother's cousin, Dr. John Durham; the coming and goings of state governmental officials to Thomas E. Watson's home; vague memories of her grandfather's attitude towards various other populist leaders; his attitudes towards various national figures such as Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, and Calvin Coolidge; mention of the Versailles Treaty; attitudes towards Georgia figures such as Tom Hardwick and Governor Matt Harris; description of the switch from horses to automobiles for transportation: driving culture and her grandfather's first car; a description of his carriages; Uncle Gus who drove the carriages; her grandfather's chauffeur Cliff; trips to Augusta, Ga., by car and by carriage; taking the train to New York once a year; trips to Atlanta with her father and staying at the old Kimbell house. [24 minutes, 19 seconds]

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The Thomas E. Watson Papers [signature]