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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, August 4, 1974. Interview G-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Mother's education described as a prized family possession

Lumpkin again addresses her family background, this time focusing specifically on the influence of her mother. Lumpkin explains how her mother was an educated woman and that she taught until she was married to Lumpkin's father. Lumpkin recalls how her mother's interest in intellect was particularly influential on her own development as a child growing up in Macon, Georgia. Interestingly, Lumpkin describes her mother's education as "a prized family possession."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, August 4, 1974. Interview G-0034. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
We've talked about your father. What was your father's name, by the way?
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
William.
JACQUELYN HALL:
William Lumpkin.
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
I have a feeling he was called Will, but my mother always referred to him as Mr. Lumpkin. Oh, this was a custom in that day. Or "your father", in talking to us. But I think I can remember hearing her when she would call him that. We were very respectful, deeply respectful, of my father, so that … I don't think people, men, in those days, exchanged first names, you know, much. They either referred to people by their last names or it was mister. Actually, my father was called … wherefrom, I don't know, "colonel".
JACQUELYN HALL:
Your mother was from an old plantation owning family as well.
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
Yes, that was her childhood background, but you may recall, I think I tell this, that her parents died and she and her three sisters and I think there was one brother were cared for by her grandmother, and then it became too much of a burden. They were still, then, on the parental home plantation in a different part of Georgia from where my father's people came from. And so kind friends of the family took two of the girls one place, and the two others went to other kind friends and were reared. And my mother and a sister just younger were reared by wonderful people in Augusta, Georgia. And my mother I do say in the book, was given this remarkable education by her tutor.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I'm very interested in this.
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
Mr. Neely. You see, his name I will never forget because it was always on her lips. My mother … as my father was, they were both brilliant people intellectually, no question of that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Your mother's learning was a prized family possession. I remember you using that. A prized family possession, your mother's education.
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I thought that was great.
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
And this, I'm sure, quite without my … You see, you have an interesting combination here, looking at it in a detached way. The inner pressures of the individual herself, which I certainly felt, you know, a keen interest in intellectual things from childhood in my reading and all, but also, you had - I had, as we all did, - this tradition of my mother's of the importance of learning, of the importance of intellectual things, of the joy of them. And nothing was more fun in my childhood than, of a Sunday, mother would always read aloud to us. And there are certain books that I still cherish more because of that association of the pleasure of hearing interesting … Pilgrim's Progress. I adored it, you see. It was almost up to a mystery detective story in the fascinating grip that it could have. These adventures of this pilgrim. These were great fun. Not that that was why they were read, but it was a classic and we were read to. So, yes, I think you cannot tell: there could be the potential for interest, but whether that interest would necessarily have surfaced to make the person go ahead and pursue those, without this experience which aroused them. I don't know.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Your mother had taught a while before she was married.
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is that … ?
KATHARINE DU PRE LUMPKIN:
But I don't know much about that period. I was not old enough to want to ask questions about that. Something like that I would ask about, you know, experiences and what you did there and here, but I don't remember asking questions about that period. She may have talked about it and I not listened. I don't doubt she did. But I do know that she taught for … well up to the time she married.