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Oral History Interview with Willie Snow Ethridge, December 15, 1975. Interview G-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • 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.
  • Raising a family while forging a successful writing career
  • Decision to become a writer
  • Mingling Yarn and its depiction of class struggles in the South
  • Description of husband's level of support for her career
  • Working for the anti-lynching movement in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Reasons for joining the anti-lynching movement
  • Growing up with a strict Southern Baptist mother
  • Lack of sexual knowledge while growing up
  • Explaining opposition to the feminist movement and the sexual revolution
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching
  • Women writers--Southern States
  • Women civil rights workers--Georgia
  • Women journalists--Georgia
  • 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.