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Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0316. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Ethelene McCabe Allen was born in 1934 to tenant farmers and spent most of her childhood moving around Wayne County and Johnston County, North Carolina. This interview is the third in a thirteen-part series of interviews conducted by her daughter, Barbara C. Allen. In this interview, Allen focuses on describing her childhood and relationships within her family. Beginning with a brief description of her parents' relationship, Allen moves to a discussion of how her parents disciplined their children. Allen recalls that while her parents exercised stern discipline, she and her siblings were never treated cruelly. Overall, Allen describes a happy childhood, although she also contends that her parents never displayed overt affection towards their children. Throughout the interview, Allen offers numerous anecdotes regarding her parents' work as tenant farmers, their leisure activities, and her mother's efforts to abide by prescribed gender ideals for domestic work. She briefly describes the effects of her father's death in 1958, when her mother and her younger brother had to assume responsibility for the family's farm. Most of the interview, however, centers around Allen's memories from her childhood during the 1930s and 1940s. Researchers will be especially interested in Allen's vivid recollections about her upbringing for their ability to shed light on the kinds of family dynamics that were characteristic of typical tenant farming families during this era.
  • Dynamics of parents' marriage and disciplining children
  • Outlining various childbirth practices
  • Limited displays of affection within the family
  • Taking over the family farm and changing technologies for farming
  • Family's leisure activities
  • Courtship and marriage of parents
  • Mother's difficulty in fulfilling prescribed gender roles
  • Family values, gender roles, and expectations for children's success
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
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  • 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.