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Title: Oral History Interview with Juanita Kreps, January 17, 1986. Interview C-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Kreps, Juanita, interviewee
Interview conducted by Haessly, Lynn
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 104 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-05-10, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Juanita Kreps, January 17, 1986. Interview C-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0011)
Author: Rob Amberg
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Juanita Kreps, January 17, 1986. Interview C-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0011)
Author: Juanita Kreps
Description: 146 Mb
Description: 33 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 17, 1986, by Lynn Haessly; recorded in Durham, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Ron Bedard.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Juanita Kreps, January 17, 1986.
Interview C-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Kreps, Juanita, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JUANITA KREPS, interviewee
    LYNN HAESSLY, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
LYNN HAESSLY:
[unknown] in her office on January 17, 1986. I was hoping that we could begin with you telling about your parents and when and where you were born.
JUANITA KREPS:
I was born in eastern Kentucky, Harlan County, which is a coal-mining area of the state. My father was in the coal-mining business, first as an accountant and later as a manager of a small, independent coal mine.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What was his name?
JUANITA KREPS:
Elmer.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What was your mother's family back there?
JUANITA KREPS:
My mother's family were mainly farmers, although there were some exceptions, one notable one being a county official who was in politics during the period in which the unionization of the mines took place. He was, I'm afraid, recorded as not being very sympathetic to labor. The labor unions wrote a song about him.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What was his name?
JUANITA KREPS:
His name was John Henry Blair and Blair is my mother's maiden name.
LYNN HAESSLY:
I was going to ask you what memories you had had of the Harlan County strikes when you were about ten.
JUANITA KREPS:
They are surprisingly vivid, I suppose because they were so dramatic. There was a lot of bloodshed, as you know. I remember the scene as being one of fear. Coal mining itself is physically, to me, still a frightening business. I attribute my current claustrophobia to the thought of being in a dark place such as a mine. So I

Page 2
remember it fairly well. It was a tough period for that area. Of course, it was a depressed period all over the country. There was a lot of true poverty in the area in which I grew up.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did you feel as if your family was on one side or the other during the strikes?
JUANITA KREPS:
Oh, yes. We felt aligned with the labor struggle with the exception of Uncle John Henry. I think he was too, it's just that he was in a political situation that was somewhat different. My father, although he ultimately was in charge of a mine and had to bargain with the workers, was basically very sympathetic to the problems that very low paid, hard working miners were facing.
LYNN HAESSLY:
That song is "Which Side Are You On"?
JUANITA KREPS:
Right.
LYNN HAESSLY:
When you were very small, your parents divorced. Do you remember what impact that had on you?
JUANITA KREPS:
I don't remember that very well because we stayed with my mother and my father was nearby. That did not seem to have much impact. It was unusual, in those days, for parents to get divorced and I suppose I felt in that sense somewhat set apart. But, as I say, I had access to my father so I didn't feel that I missed him in the usual sense.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What was your mother's name?
JUANITA KREPS:
Her name was Cenia Beair.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did you have brothers and sisters?

Page 3
JUANITA KREPS:
I have an older sister and three brothers between her and me and then one brother younger than I.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did you all live with your mother afterwards?
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes.
LYNN HAESSLY:
How did she make a living?
JUANITA KREPS:
We were supported by monthly payments from my father. She, however, had grown up in a farm family and she continued to farm.
LYNN HAESSLY:
So you lived on a farm?
JUANITA KREPS:
For the most part, yes.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did she run the farm herself?
JUANITA KREPS:
She and my brothers, yes.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Were they considerably older than you?
JUANITA KREPS:
Well, they ranged. My sister, who was the head of the family, is about a decade older than I and then the three boys were in between us.
LYNN HAESSLY:
How big was the farm?
JUANITA KREPS:
Well, it varied. We never actually owned farms; we weren't in that sense farmers. But at one point we ran a dairy, a small dairy, and at other times we mainly grew foodstuffs for the family and the farm animals. But it was never anything extensive.
LYNN HAESSLY:
So you would move from farm to farm often?
JUANITA KREPS:
We had several moves, yes.
LYNN HAESSLY:
When you were twelve you went to a boarding school. Why was that?

Page 4
JUANITA KREPS:
It was a matter of convenience. My mother lived far enough away from a high school to make it difficult for me to go by bus. The boarding school was one of the Presbyterian Church's mission schools which was actually near where my father was then working. I guess it was a matter of my own desire to be in a better school than the public schools were, in my view.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did your older brothers and sister seek further education?
JUANITA KREPS:
No, no.
LYNN HAESSLY:
So you were unusual in your family?
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes.
LYNN HAESSLY:
How was your schooling paid for at the Presbyterian school?
JUANITA KREPS:
It didn't cost anything, as I recall. I don't know, my father may have paid some small sums. But I think it was largely paid for by the Presbyterian Church.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Now we read so much about divorced women having trouble supporting their family. Do you remember that being a problem in your family?
JUANITA KREPS:
Oh, yes, it was a problem. It is hard to separate the reasons for the low-income status of the people in that area. It was partly that there was widespread unemployment, that mining was so underpaid, that the whole economy was in very bad condition throughout the '30s. But, yes, there is no question that being in a family without a father in those days was an extreme problem.

Page 5
LYNN HAESSLY:
What do you remember about your boarding school as an educational experience?
JUANITA KREPS:
Only good things educationally. The teachers were first-rate and they came from all over the South, and not Kentucky, by and large.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What was the name of the school?
JUANITA KREPS:
Stuart Robinson. It is no longer there but in its day was first-rate. They had a good little library. The standards of performance were high. I had always been a good student but that was the best chance I had to dig in. Good teachers, as I say, and it was a reassuring time for me, confirm a lot of interests that I had.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Was it difficult for you to be away from your family at that young age?
JUANITA KREPS:
No, because they were nearby.
LYNN HAESSLY:
How far away was the school?
JUANITA KREPS:
From my father's office it was a short walk. It was farther away from my mother, but I always got home for the holidays.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Was it the people at the school who encouraged you to go to Berea?
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes. They varied between wanting me to go to Berea or go to a Presbyterian school. Presbyterian colleges, Flora McDonald in North Carolina was one of the ones they recommended, but, of course, I couldn't afford that and they were very supportive in helping me get into Berea.

Page 6
LYNN HAESSLY:
What do you remember about Berea in the '30s? What was the atmosphere like there?
JUANITA KREPS:
Of course by then it was late '30s, into the '40s, so the national scene was somewhat different from my early childhood. And again, only good things. I have absolutely no bad memories of Berea—not in the classroom, not with my peers. As you know, I'm a trustee of the college and have been for a long time, with a time out while I was in Washington. I try to help support them financially, help them raise money. Berea was a place where equality and equal opportunity was taken for granted, even in those days, long before it became so popular.
LYNN HAESSLY:
You mean between men and women?
JUANITA KREPS:
Between men and women and between races. It was a college formed after the Civil War for the purpose of educating black and white and it retained that legacy and that philosophy. It held notions of equal opportunity between races, between sexes, and also opportunities for youth from Appalachia who were by and large poor and who were isolated geographically from the mainstream.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Would you have been there at the same time as Harriet [unknown] , the novelist?
JUANITA KREPS:
The name doesn't sound familiar.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What work did you do at Berea as your co-op work?
JUANITA KREPS:
All of us did all sorts of things. My freshman year I remember only washing dishes; then I worked for the college hospital as receptionist and typist; then I worked

Page 7
for the drama department where I did mainly costume shows; and my senior year I worked for the economics department helping to grade papers, sort of apprenticing myself to the top professors in that department.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Were they still doing farm work at the time that you were there?
JUANITA KREPS:
Oh, yes. The college still has a farm and a dairy. I didn't have anything to do with that but they give a major in agriculture and the students do in fact man the farm.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Was it at Berea that you developed the beginnings of your ambition?
JUANITA KREPS:
I don't know how one knows when aspirations arise. I suspect that I always wanted to do better myself intellectually and financially than the people around me. Actually, I grew up in somewhat better circumstances in my family than lots of others but nevertheless it didn't seem to me that that was the way things ought to be, not just at a personal level but more for all the people that I was close to. The whole community needed so many things done. So my interests in changing things sociologically, economically must have formed perhaps even before high schol.
LYNN HAESSLY:
When you first made your decision to go to Stuart Robinson?
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes. Although I don't remember that as a period of social integration because it too was isolated

Page 8
and dwelt with learning the basics, a lot of drill, a lot of emphasis on grammar and Latin and tools which were, I guess, what high school was supposed to be.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did you have particular teachers at Berea who urged you to go on to graduate school?
JUANITA KREPS:
At Berea, oh yes. The economics department was very eager for me to go ahead to graduate school. In fact, my coming to Duke was largely a result of my major professor who had his Ph.D. from Duke.
LYNN HAESSLY:
And his name was?
JUANITA KREPS:
Rector Hardin.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Rector was his first name.
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes. And he had done Ph.D. at Duke under some of the men that I had later studyed under.
LYNN HAESSLY:
At Duke you worked with Joseph Spengler and Frank Deviyver. Were they your mentors to you?
JUANITA KREPS:
I think Frank Deviyver was a mentor in the best sense, although of course we didn't know that word then. He was extraordinarily kind and considerate and thoughtful about his students. I worked directly with him. I did my dissertation under him. I helped him revise one of his books. I think he would not have used that word, either, but I think he took a keen interest in all his students, perhaps a special one in me because I was around for a long time. Then of course when I rejoined the faculty he was also very helpful. With Dr. Spengler, our relationship did not develop until I came back and joined the faculty. I was

Page 9
just his student in graduate days. An inspiring man, he was a brilliant teacher, for whom I have profound respect but whom I never got to know really, until much later. After I had been on the faculty for quite some time, we did some writing together. Then he was extremely helpful but I never thought of him as a mentor so much as an inspirational figure.
LYNN HAESSLY:
When you came to Duke you were very young but you got opportunities to teach early on, and I think I've read that that was in part due to the wartime demands for teaching. Did you see the war as a time of often really expanded academic opportunities for women?
JUANITA KREPS:
Well, I didn't think of it in that way but one realization subsequently has stuck with me. Throughout the women's movement, of which I consider myself a part, amid complaints that we've all had against sex discrimination, it has occurred to me that had I been a male in the early '40s I would have been in the service. Being female I was allowed to continue my education and that is a very important thing to remember. I found it more difficult to get teaching jobs after I got out than a man would have had and I often reminded myself that in fact getting my Ph.D. may have been somewhat easier for me than for a man. So there were some tradeoffs as I viewed it. And it is true that I was allowed to teach sooner than usual because there were no men around.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did you teach the V-12 students?

Page 10
JUANITA KREPS:
No, I did not teach the V-12 students. I taught the regular undergraduates who were then mostly women, of course. There were some men on campus, some undergraduate males, but I mainly taught classes on the east campus.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Which was Woman's College then?
JUANITA KREPS:
Which was Woman's College then, although there was no separation of classes, you could take them either place, even then.
LYNN HAESSLY:
You met your husband on campus here during the war. Was he not subject to the draft or was he older?
JUANITA KREPS:
He was 4-F because of a back disability. Actually I met him in Atlanta when we were both working for the government in the summertime and then he came to Duke to do his Ph.D.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What work were you doing in Atlanta?
JUANITA KREPS:
We were both working for the National War Labor Board.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What did you do for them?
JUANITA KREPS:
We were wage analysts. The problem we were trying to solve was that of keeping down inflation, and our part of it had to do with developing guidelines and seeing that wage increases would not spiral up too fast. So we did analysis of appeals for relief from those rules to lift wages; everybody was bidding for a short supply of labor.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Was that for a regional area?
JUANITA KREPS:
For the southeastern region.

Page 11
LYNN HAESSLY:
When you left Duke, I'm interested to know how you and your husband managed to arrange appointments at the same time in different places.
JUANITA KREPS:
Well it varied, and it never worked out quite as we would have liked. It wasn't any easier then than it is now to get two satisfactory academic appointments. We left after we finished our preliminary exams, but without having written our dissertations, to take teaching jobs. We each got a teaching appointment in Ohio, but not at the same college.
LYNN HAESSLY:
You were at Denison and . . .
JUANITA KREPS:
. . . and he was at Mount—I want to say Mount Hermon but that is the prep school—Mount something. And so for the first year we had only weekends and vacation times together. Then after that year he got an appointment to Pomona College in California and I left Denison without any appointment because I wanted to write my dissertation. So we both went to Pomona. I ended up teaching a couple of classes while we were there. But that was a one-year appointment and we understood it as such. So then we both came back to Denison and worked in the same department for two years. Then he went to the New York Federal Reserve Bank as an economist and I stayed on at Denison to finish out my appointment and was there for a year, then joined him in New York and that's when we started our family.

Page 12
LYNN HAESSLY:
I was wondering if you could tell me something about having babies and being a young working mother in New York in the '50s.
JUANITA KREPS:
Well, actually, I didn't have any full-time appointments when I was having babies. I taught a class at a time or two classes at a time, whatever I could manage. But I did it pretty much at my convenience from the time of the first child—we had three very close together—really, until they were pretty much in school. It was difficult to get help in New York, so I could never have managed, or didn't think I could manage, a full-time job. Anyway, I was pregnant all the time. But it was a period in which I was mainly out of the labor force for all practical purposes. I did edit a couple of books. When Clif left the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to take an appointment at the University of North Carolina, and we moved to Chapel Hill, Duke asked me to teach part time. So I began teaching introductory economics, two, then three sections of the same course. By then the kids were all in nursery or other school and I could work that out. Gradually, as they got older and into school I worked into a full-time appointment. But there were about six or eight years there in which I was part time.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
LYNN HAESSLY:
Do you think that being out of the full-time work force for those years hampered your career?
JUANITA KREPS:
I've been so fortunate with my career it is very difficult for me to have any complaints about how it worked out. I think what it did was put me a few years behind the level of achievement that many yound women expect today. Of course, in those days women didn't feel the same pressure. But Clif and I got our Ph.D.s at the same time and his progress up the academic ladder always was five to ten years ahead of mine; we are about the same age, as well. On the other hand I was able to do some writing while I was at home. I never resented being out of the work force during that time. Looking back on it, I must say I enjoyed it and I didn't feel pressure the way I sense young women now feel.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Do you think that time outside of the work force helped you to focus your research interest on women in the labor force?
JUANITA KREPS:
No, I don't think so because I didn't write anything on the women work force problem until much later. Actually, I wrote Sex in the Marketplace after I became dean of the Woman's College.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Which would have been '69?
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes. I don't remember whether it was published in '70 or '71. The problems that we now all talk about only began to become academically acceptable, and not quite that even, until the forces in society as a whole—that is, the civil rights movement on back of which the women's movement

Page 14
came—forced us to give attention to what were some very pressing and intractable problems. So I don't claim any early perception of that. My personal solution to those difficult problems was to try to go ahead and do what I felt I could do no matter what the rules were.
LYNN HAESSLY:
For yourself?
JUANITA KREPS:
For myself. And to try to convey to my students this same spirit that working it out was an individual business. You didn't have to do a career but if you wanted to, these were the options. Only later did we begin to think about it in terms of what the societal constraints were.
LYNN HAESSLY:
I've read that you had made speeches and made comments about women's interests in satisfying employment even before Betty Freidan published her first book. [The Feminine Mystique, in 1963]
JUANITA KREPS:
That is true. I was trained as an economist who was interested in labor problems and it quickly became apparent that the woman aspect of it was critical. I made some speeches which were, I suppose, pretty extreme for their time. I did something at one point called "Six Cliches in Search of a Woman" and I was trying to demyth a good bit of the rubbish about femininity. And trying to say to the students that they were going to want more than home and family; that satisfying work was important to women. What were they going to do with their minds when they graduated? It was never in the systematic and eloquent

Page 15
fashion that Freidan did it but I must say it was much more pointed in its references to work.
LYNN HAESSLY:
You've mentioned as we've been talking that you consider yourself a part of the women's movement, and things I've read about comments you made at the time of your Cabinet appointment were that you do not consider yourself a feminist and you didn't like that word.
JUANITA KREPS:
Oh, no. I've heard women say that, but I have always considered myself a feminist and I think my actions would bear that out. What happened at the time of my appointment was an important exchange, I think, on the question of qualified women. If you read the record you'll see that I told the President, "you have to look harder for qualified women." I don't know that the label, one way or the other, bothers me but it would bother me to be viewed as someone who felt "feminist" was a bad label.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Let's talk a little bit about your stint at Duke before you went on to join the cabinet. You had a faculty position and then you became dean of the Woman's College. I've read a quote from the time that you were in the Cabinet saying that, "it's difficult to learn how to operate within a structure when you've been left out." Did you feel any of those kinds of problems when you were moving into the administration here at Duke?
JUANITA KREPS:
I don't think so; I don't remember that I did. Of course, the dean of the Woman's College was always a woman's job so you were hardly breaking any new ground. The

Page 16
Woman's College was, I think, marked for extinction even before I was appointed. Not in any deliberately vicious way, the pressures were on to conserve, to combine. Undergraduate women didn't like being segregated. There were all sorts of pressures. When I was offered the position I questioned the provost closely as to whether he really wanted another dean of the Woman's College; it looked to me as if it were a period of rapid change. He responded that yes, for a while at least, they did in fact want a Woman's College. I just happened to be there to preside over the merger. So I didn't think of myself as entering the ranks of the administration in any central sense. I did a bit of that later when I became vice-president, but that was very short-lived and not something that had any great substance to it.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Let us talk a little about your resignation as the dean. I've read the letter that you gave publicly and you talked about not wanting to interfere with the study of the proposed merger of the Woman's College with the male campus and that you didn't want personalities to be involved. I was puzzled about what that meant.
JUANITA KREPS:
What was happening was, as a part of the student unrest, was a good deal of pressure from the vocal women students to do away with the Woman's College. They viewed us in part at least as kind of an oversight body that they could do without. It was the days of the coeducationalization of the dormitories, and so on. At the

Page 17
faculty level, there were all sorts of discussions of restructuring undergraduate education and a great deal of furor over what to do about the Woman's College. I saw it shaping up as a somewhat painful but necessary rethinking of undergraduate education. I thought that if I continued in my role it would impede that discussion because I had a lot of friends on the faculty who would interpret my position as being in jeopardy and I didn't want that to happen. I liked being dean of the Woman's College but there were lots of other things that I wanted to do and I didn't want to be the one who held up the process. What I did do was poll the alumnae of the Woman's College to ask them how they felt about it. They were heavily, heavily, heavily against the dissolution of the college and I presented that information to the administration. But it would happen anyway, as had earlier predicted it would happen. I stayed on as dean until most of the basic administrative decisions were made that year.
LYNN HAESSLY:
How soon afterwards were you appointed vice-president?
JUANITA KREPS:
I think just a couple of years.
LYNN HAESSLY:
So there wasn't any understanding that there was a tradeoff.
JUANITA KREPS:
Oh, God, no! I went back to being a professor of economics.
LYNN HAESSLY:
And then got the James B. Duke Professorship.

Page 18
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes, and got the Duke Professorship. And that, I thought, was much more important to me than the vice-presidency.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Was that a tradeoff?
JUANITA KREPS:
You mean in the sense of an understanding? No.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Or, something to reward you with because of having given up another important position.
JUANITA KREPS:
I think not at all. They didn't ask me to give up the position. I would have had to give it up in any sense if they dissolved the college, which clearly was in the works. No, I think I had earned that professorship. I had written the books and published the articles and done the teaching. And the fact is that the James B. Duke professors are appointed on recommendation from their peers, from the other James B. Duke professors and it does not come as a gift from the administration.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Let me ask you, then, about your Cabinet appointment. Before Carter was elected, had you ever hoped to serve in the government in that sort of capacity?
JUANITA KREPS:
I had never given it any thought. I had done a lot of research and writing under government grants and so I knew people at the secretarial level and below. But it had never occurred to me that I might be doing that some day.
LYNN HAESSLY:
As I mentioned before, I've read about you having talked about your difficulty in learning how to be an insider in Washington when you'd been an outsider. What

Page 19
kinds of things did you do to help you be effective in that kind of position?
JUANITA KREPS:
I don't remember the inside-outside discussion. What I remember as being a major problem was learning the substance of the job; learning all the agencies that I was responsible for and what the law says those agencies are supposed to do, and the problem of getting good people to head them; the budgetary problems of running a large department; the congressional liaison work that one must do; the difficulties of working with other members of the Cabinet, the kind of internecine stresses that go with that; getting to know the President and trying to interpret his philosophy on the work. Those were, I thought, the burdens of the job and the challenges. The inside-outside thing I can't speak to because we were all in the Carter administration—not quite all but by and large—a new bunch of people. Take out Joe Califano and Jim Schlesinger, and around the table you had a lot of new people.
LYNN HAESSLY:
There was the question of being inside or outside within the administration, not being of the Georgia group who traveled with the President.
JUANITA KREPS:
Oh, that. I don't know what remark you were referring to but I never felt that the Georgia people were in and I was out. I felt very close to the President, as a matter of fact. He has the capacity to bring people in and I thought I had as good a rapport and was as good a friend with Mr. Carter as anybody in the Cabinet. And I got along

Page 20
extremely well with Jody Powell and Ham Jordan. They treated me with deference because I was considerably older than they, and respect, and I can't remember any time I came to blows with them.
LYNN HAESSLY:
At the time that you were asked to leave the economics breakfast group, there was a certain reading in the press that that was a way of pushing you out of the inner circle. Your comments at the time seemed to be that you thought very much otherwise and that you did not feel excluded.
JUANITA KREPS:
Well, there were different things that happened at different times, so I guess it depends on the specific instance. You start from the fact that the Secretary of Commerce has never been an economist before. I had hoped that, since I was an economist and since most of the data on the basis of which policy rests emanate from the Commerce Department—we have the national accounts and we provide the numbers—that would allow me to be in the relatively small group who discussed economic policy. And I think it started out that way. The exclusion from that very small, three or four-person group that met regularly—the secretary of the Treasury, the OMB director, the chief economist from State—that was as much an exclusion based on the fact that I was secretary of Commerce as it was that I was a woman. What I tried to say was that I didn't feel that that was sex discrimination, it was an anti-Commerce Department segregation. As it turned out, some of the decisions made

Page 21
by the group were, I thought, not good decisions, and I was just as happy not to have been in on them. But by the time I left we were all meeting, perhaps ten of us, at breakfast once a week and worrying about the dollar, which was then of course going down instead up against other currencies. And worrying about the budget, worrying mainly about the rate of inflation. So, in the final analysis, there were some exclusions that annoyed me. But I felt it was offset by an easy access to the President.
LYNN HAESSLY:
From what I've read about your term in Commerce, I think that one thing that seemed very important to you was to try to bring social concern into that department with the social performance index that you proposed for businesses, the proposal you made that was critical of the HUD policies, and a few other things like that, and in some of those things you were stymied, and some not.
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes. I had the unhappy experience there, as I have elsewhere, of proposing things before people are ready to accept them. The classic case was my argument with HEW, under whom Social Security resides, that they ought to extend the age of eligibility for Social Security very, very slowly. Everybody hopped on that and I got hundreds of hate letters to show that a lot of people really don't want to work any longer than they have to. I knew that, of course, it just didn't seem to me that there was any way around it, and still maintain decent Social Security incomes. Anyway, I was proposing adding two months a year over a fifteen-year

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period, or something like that. So I took a lot of flack for that. Now, that is in fact what we are doing. So I was just five or six years early.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Why do you think you have been early in your proposals?
JUANITA KREPS:
Well, in the case of Social Security, I had been studying the economics of aging for a decade, and I'd given a lot of thought to the subject and I just made the mistake of thinking that, because I understood the problem and saw what was inevitably going to have to happen, that other people were with me. It was great misjudgment on my part. In other cases, in women's case, I was not alone, of course; lots of women were writing and thinking and talking. But I had been building a career for a long time, and I knew what some of the problems were. It's a matter of understanding because you are there, you see the changes and you exaggerate how fast they will take place. I've always thought change would come faster than it has come.
LYNN HAESSLY:
And has that frustrated you?
JUANITA KREPS:
Well, it's been an embarrassment because I've been left hanging out there. But it also is reassuring because if you are wrong people aren't going to follow your advice, you are saved. You could be proposing something pretty ridiculous and, if people won't buy it, there is a safety valve.

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LYNN HAESSLY:
Some of the things you had talked about as being important issues—national day care for working women—is that the sort of thing that you see coming at all?
JUANITA KREPS:
Inevitably.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Any idea of how soon?
JUANITA KREPS:
No, it'll come in bits and pieces, though. But, you see, it wasn't very long ago that American firms didn't want to talk about it. Now a lot of them are sponsoring it, a lot of others are talking about it. They have discovered they need those bright young women, they want to keep them on the job, they are willing to put some thought and money into it. A lot of the women have discovered they don't want that kind of day care for their children, of course, and that's fine, too. But for low-income women to work, it is a necissity. Just as lots of other things that business early on didn't want any part of, are now espoused: helping to find jobs for two people instead of just one; understanding that work can take place at different hours of the day; that there is such a thing as the half-time person who nevertheless is working her way up the ladder, just as if she were a full-time person—all of these things are happening. So five years from now we will see a difference.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What would you assess as your major accomplishment in the Cabinet?
JUANITA KREPS:
Negotiating the trade agreement with China. A very successful public works program the first year I was

Page 24
there. Battling through some of the early problems of the decennial census, which actually took place after I left. A lot of focus on international trade problems, particularly with the Japanese.
LYNN HAESSLY:
The Arab boycott, also?
JUANITA KREPS:
Yes. Working our way through a successful Arab boycott bill. Mainly in the trade area, I feel good about what we did. However, a lot of the problems that I'd hoped to solve did not get solved, and still aren't in the trade area.

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[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
LYNN HAESSLY:
In the trade area, what are the issues that you had hoped to solve and haven't been solved yet?
JUANITA KREPS:
The basic problem is our inability to accept, understand, appreciate the internationalization of the world economy. And because we don't appreciate the different kinds of governments we are dealing with—many, many of which are not laissez-faire capitalistic economies, many which subsidize their industries in order to promote exports—because we fail to take these things into account, we are somewhat naive about how trade flows will occur. We remain completely addicted to free trade, on the basis of doctrines which presumed different competitive situations from the ones we actually have. And, therefore, we make mistakes in dealing with other nations, the communist nations as well as the other industrial countries, notably Japan. So I think our poor understanding of what is happening in the world economy and our willingness to act on the basis of an unrealistic appraisal of how other people do business is the heart of the problem. It was then, it is now, it has not changed much. Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige is battling the same dragons that I battled and with not very much improvement. In fact, in some ways I think we have gone backward.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Those are essentially the disappointments that you see during the ongoing problems with trade.

Page 26
JUANITA KREPS:
I wouldn't characterize it as a disappointment. I would characterize it as broadening of my understanding in how government works and does not work, and a greater appreciation on my part of the inability to solve those problems until the public generally, and even the specialists in the field, have a better appreciation of what the problem is. So, after a stint in government at this level, one is not so much disappointed as he or she is discouraged with the progress that can be made and the pace at which it can be made. There are no magic solutions, and many of the problems that we are dealing with in the trade area can only be mitigated; there is no mathematically perfect, easy, simple solution. One of the difficulties I have with the current Reagan administration is its tendency, particularly on the part of the President, to express problems and solutions in simplistic terms.
LYNN HAESSLY:
The way you have conceptualized this program you have talked about and, you had mentioned before about how you have ideas for policy often before people are ready to accept them.
JUANITA KREPS:
That makes me sound awfully vain and I don't mean it to be so.
LYNN HAESSLY:
But not just for yourself but for other policy leaders, and you had mentioned Social Security. Is that same conceptualization also something you would extend to what we've talked about—the problems of women in work—that

Page 27
policy leaders can see solutions before the public is ready to accept them?
JUANITA KREPS:
So your question has to do with whether we could extrapolate this to the case of women.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Well, from trade to just policy in general.
JUANITA KREPS:
I see. It's a generic proposition, I think, that holds. The academic or other students of a problem obviously understand its dimensions in a theoretical sense long before he or she can actually lay out any pragmatic way of solving it. And that explains the big gap between academia and government or academia and business. We perform different functions. But, if you study a problem carefully over a long period of time and if you observe what is going on in the society, you can often predict what's about to happen. You inevitably say if we would only do this, it would not solve the problem necessarily, but it would lessen its impact. It would help this group of people, the cost would be thus-and-so and you can afford those costs, and so on. And I think that does cut across different areas. The impracticality of some academicians' solutions—political impracticality—gives academicians rather a bad name. But they get a much worse name in their recommendations for what business should do, because there is an even bigger gap, as I see it, between academic economists' analyses and the business sector's studies than between academic analysts and the government because Business moves much faster; business can't study a problem

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in the depth that academicians expect; therefore, business solutions are never the perfect ones that the economists want. Problem-solving takes place at different levels. There is an idealized model-building solution technique which is what most academicians engage in. There is, at the other extreme, the seat-of-the-pants, the quick-and-dirty solution, which often is the only one that can be used because, if you are having a flood today you don't have time to worry about irrigation to prevent the next one. If you are caught in an immediate crisis, the solutions call for speed, not perfection. And then there is something in between when business tries to get the best information it can but has to make a decision in fairly short order, otherwise somebody else takes the market and RUNs away with it. I guess if I had to express my strongest drawback, as I analyzed my work in the Commerce Department, it is that I tended to be too academic. I wanted to know more about the subject than I had time to learn. And there were so many different problems all at once that I was frustrated in trying to understand them better than the time allowed.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Even working eighteen-hour days.
JUANITA KREPS:
[unknown] Absolutely. [unknown] That is not much of an exaggeration because, of course, one can't sleep if some pressing problem is there. You might as well stay up and read that huge stack of books and hope you find something that gives you a clue. But the learning curve is straight up. I never learned so much, so fast—not when I was in

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graduate school, not ever. I learned it in part with the help of some very bright young people who worked with me. There is a tendency to underestimate the quality of the bureaucracy. A lot of it is awfully, awfully good.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Let me turn and ask you something about your resignation from the Cabinet and your work since then. Of course, you had pressing family concerns at the time that you resigned.
JUANITA KREPS:
Right.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Would you still say that those were solely your reasons for resigning at that time?
JUANITA KREPS:
Absolutely. I would have lasted four years although it did not pain me that much to leave because I felt I had done pretty much what I could do. The fourth year of an administration is a campaign year.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Would you have campaigned?
JUANITA KREPS:
Of course, of course. You owe that to the President. How well I would have campaigned is a different question. I've never done it so I'm not sure I'd be any good at it. But I would have done it. That is not, however, what I would have liked to spend my time doing. In any event, what was going to happen in the fourth year of the administration was pretty much in place.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Why did you decide to come back to Duke when you left?
JUANITA KREPS:
There were alternatives, obviously, in industry and in administration in other universities. I came back in

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part because of the Duke Endowment invitation, which I wanted very much to accept. I realized how important it was to this area and to Duke University and I have a strong commitment to Duke itself. And I thought I could do some other things, such as helping to raise money for the university, that could be quite even critical to its future. It was also the place where I had roots and where Clif and I were both comfortable. And I've been glad that I did it. I could have become president of another university. I didn't want to be a president.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Which one?
JUANITA KREPS:
There were several possibilities. But I did not want to be in academic administration at the time because I wanted to return in part to private industry and I wanted to be able to pick up on some of the boards of directors I had resigned from and I wanted to get a better look at the private sector. So when I weighed it all out, I thought, given my interest in Duke and in the possibility of pursuing that and still having time for the private sector, it seemed the best thing to do. And I have been very happy with the decision.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Why did you choose not to teach?
JUANITA KREPS:
Time, just an allocation of priorities. I'd been doing it since I was twenty and I thought that was long enough.

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LYNN HAESSLY:
Would you have liked to have been president at Duke one day, have the recent change-over in administrations?
JUANITA KREPS:
No. I said so from the beginning, not that it was ever offered to me, but I never would have done it.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Do you see yourself going back into political or public service again?
JUANITA KREPS:
It seems unlikely. I would certainly not like to interrupt the pattern I've set in industry now, which is, I guess, about as broadly based as you can get. I do ten corporate boards and I work hard at each of them. I've learned more than I contribute, I fear, but that and the Duke Endowment and some lecturing and writing are enough. I hope I can do some serious writing as soon as some of the corporate boards cool down a bit. But I can't imagine that going back into a Cabinet, say, would have that much appeal.
LYNN HAESSLY:
It was a very brutal life.
JUANITA KREPS:
I don't mind that. I like the work. In fact, I was eager to get to the office at seven in the morning. It isn't the grueling part; it's just that the alternatives open to me now are really very exciting and I like what I'm doing. It sounds, I suppose, a bit diffused if one doesn't have a fancy title or a big, highly visible job. I suppose to some that's a comedown from being a Cabinet officer. I have never sought a visible role. I would much prefer to be left alone to do my work. I can think of nothing worse than being a highly visible political figure forever. Nor would

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I like being president of a university which has many of those difficult day-to-day burdens. It might be exciting to be an ambassador somewhere. That would be different, and one might be willing to put up with a lot to do it. But I think it's unlikely to happen.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Why don't you want to be visible and why don't you mind a grueling life?
JUANITA KREPS:
I don't think of hard work as a grueling life but a satisfying one. I think those of us who work long hours do so because we like terribly much what we are doing. We're drawn to it; we work long hours because working is more fun than anything else. Why do I mind being visible? I think visibility can be quite damaging to one's sense of perspective. It would be very easy if you were a member of the President's Cabinet, say, to come to believe that people defer to you because what you are saying is important. They may treat you with great deference. It would be easy to begin to believe that you had earned that; that you were in fact pretty smart and that those were in fact brilliant ideas you espouse. Nonsense! The test is not how you are treated, which is the visibility part of it. The test is whether the idea is workable, whether it helps, whether it moves things along. And I think I've always been a little bit surprised that people enjoy the limelight. I'm not talking about the people who want to do a good job and accept the limelight as a necessary part of that, but people who want recognition irrespective of whether it is important

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to doing a job. One has to confront himself or herself on the quality of work, its effectiveness, its thoughtfulness, and clarity of purpose, and integrity. I think it is very hard to do that when you are in a public job. I think that is the reason.
END OF INTERVIEW