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Oral History Interview with Laura B. Waddell, August 6, 2002. Interview R-0175. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Laura Waddell grew up in Savannah, Georgia, and after finishing eleventh grade, found a job as a seamstress in a shop off West Broad Street in the city's downtown district. Waddell earned a reputation, and a good living, as a skilled seamstress, eventually opening her own business. Waddell's enthusiasm for her work helped her build a successful career, and at the time of the interview, in August 2002, she had only recently retired. While she was aware of some of the tensions of the civil rights movement, she did not participate in protests or boycotts; instead, she tried to convince her peers that her work did not benefit the white shopkeeper who leased her space. Waddell become more involved in civic activity later in life, when she helped found the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum and became an active member of her church. This interview provides a portrait of a woman carving out a space for herself in segregated Savannah.
  • African-American seamstress sets up a business in a white store
  • Rare acknowledgement for skilled African Americans
  • African-American seamstress eases whites' concerns about doing business with her
  • African-American seamstress arrives in a neighborhood as whites leave
  • Strategies for economic success
  • Love for the job leads to hard work
  • Rising taxes force African Americans from their neighborhood
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • 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.