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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kathrine Robinson Everett, April 30, 1985. Interview C-0005. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A woman's perspective on law school and a growing interest in the campaign for women's suffrage

Everett describes her brief career as a teacher and her decision to go into law. Having grown up around lawyers because of her father's career, Everett was intrigued by the profession and decided to attend law school. This occurred during World War I, at which point she spent her time working for the war effort in Washington, D.C., while attending law school in the evenings at Washington College of Law and then later at Columbia University. Everett recalls that there were several other women law students, but that the other law students were more interested in debating the fact that there were also several African American law students. According to Everett, "the Negro question" at the time trumped concerns with women's issues. On a related note, she mentions that before attending law school, during a visit to Washington, D.C., to see Woodrow Wilson's inaugural address with her father, she was exposed to women's suffrage. Seeing suffragists campaigning for their cause prompted her to "try to do a little more" and helped fuel her desire to go to Columbia for law school.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kathrine Robinson Everett, April 30, 1985. Interview C-0005. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I graduated in 1913 and stayed home the first year and took a business course which would have been more sensible to have taken before, because I could've taken down the lectures in shorthand. But then I went to two years, teaching. One year in Mt. Airy and installed the business school and taught history also. And then to Salisbury the next year where I taught history.
PAMELA DEAN:
You were doing this in the public schools?
KATHRINE ROBINSON EVERETT:
This was in the public schools. Mr. Turlington was the superintendent in Mt. Airy. He was very nice. And Mr. Allen, in Salisbury. Mr. Allen had a fine reputation as an educator and I enjoyed both places very much. I decided though that teaching was not to be my permanent career, as I'd been brought up with lawyers. My father, as I said, was a lawyer and we'd always entertain lawyers a lot and knew them. Lawyers used to do a little differently from the way they do now. They didn't have automobiles and judges would go for six months to a place and stay. So you had opportunities to know the judges, and the lawyers, when they went to try cases, would perhaps spend an overnight. So I decided I'd try it. So I went to Columbia one summer to see if I liked Law enough to go into it as a profession.
PAMELA DEAN:
This was after you'd been working in Washington during the war. Is that right?
KATHRINE ROBINSON EVERETT:
No, I went there one year before. Then war broke out, and so I went to Washington to help there. And then that summer, after the war, I went to Columbia University. I went to Columbia two summers. The war ended and I decided to go on with my law. I'd had a year in Washington, too. While during the war I took law at night at the Washington College of Law. They had arranged courses for the war workers so they could carry on their education during their war work.
PAMELA DEAN:
Now, there and at Columbia, were there any other women taking law courses?
KATHRINE ROBINSON EVERETT:
Yes. And there was a woman who was in charge, who was one of the high ranking officers at the Washington College of Law.
PAMELA DEAN:
Do you remember what her name was?
KATHRINE ROBINSON EVERETT:
No, I don't remember her name. And there was a woman in my class who must have been 60 at the time; she'd always wanted to take law and had never had the chance. And she was very smart too. At Columbia University I had the advantage of some excellent teachers. I remember Mr. Abott from London taught real property. And there, they didn't think anything about a woman because they were more interested in my taking it as a white woman because there were some blacks in the course. I remember they wanted us to debate on the Negro question, but we didn't.[laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
I would think that would have been an interesting debate at that time.
KATHRINE ROBINSON EVERETT:
But they were much more interested in the black and white [issue] than they were in the women's issue. But in 1913, the year I graduated . . . (my father had been at the University of Virginia with Woodrow Wilson, and Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated that year) my father decided that he'd take the whole family to Washington for the inauguration. So we all went. And the women's suffrage fight was getting pretty hot at that time, so I met and saw a lot of very interesting women who were making speeches for women's suffrage, standing out on the street and other places. And I think that gave me more of a desire to try to do a little more. So I think it was after that, maybe that next summer, that I went to Columbia to try it and see how I liked it.