Title: Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039.
Interviewer: Dean, Pamela
Interviewee: Lane, Mary Turner
Abstract: Mary Turner Lane was the first director of the women's studies program at the University of North Carolina. In this interview, she discusses the events that shaped her career, including the importance her parents placed on education, and her experience at Salem College. After graduation, Lane became an elementary school teacher. During this time she met and married Tom Lane, whose death in World War II left her devastated. After a period of mourning and appraisal of her life, she returned to school to renew her teacher's license. Lane discovered that she loved higher education and eventually entered the Ph.D. program at Duke. Though she had support from the families around her, relatively few other women of her generation had made choices similar to hers. Once she graduated, she joined the faculty at UNC. One of the first committee responsibilities Lane had involved changing the curfew rules for women. When the chancellor formed a committee to examine the feasibility of launching a women's studies department, Lane recalls, the appointed male and female faculty were divided by age, experience, and passion. She discusses how the women overcame those barriers. Though Lane did not actively seek the position as the first director of women's studies, she accepted it when the dean offered her the position. One of Lane's primary objectives was to publicize the existence, purpose and achievements of the new program. Lane does not remember having any steady male support during this time, though a few faculty and administrators were generally friendly. She also recalls the resistance that she encountered from the female students and speculates about what caused them to feel as they did. Lane believes much has changed since then but that much more needs to be done for female students and faculty at UNC. She discusses what she believes to be the key issues for both groups.