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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 >>

Explaining why women were more socially progressive than men

Lumpkin argues that women were more inclined to take a progressive stance on social issues than were men during the early twentieth century. Drawing primarily from her experiences working with the YWCA during the 1920s, Lumpkin suggests that women acted on natural impulses to help others and that they did not have the same kind of "deep-laid fears" and "bigoted attitudes" that men were ingrained with in the South.

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

Well, it does seem to me, that from what I've read and people I've talked to that that was the case. I'm very curious about why women students seem to have been more progressive on social issues than their contemporaries
I always felt … well, let me remind you of one thing. Your lady that you did your …
Jessie Daniel Ames.
Yes. Just remember women were far in advance of men in these matters, in the churches. I … I can't remember her name. I think it was Mrs. Steel. Did she ever speak of someone named Mrs. Steel? Oh, you didn't … you had to go by the records for her.
Uh huh. (Yes.)
There was a Mrs. Steel - I think I'm right about her name - who was a leading figure in the Methodist women's groups, who worked on such things as anti-lynching laws and other … some of these very social problems that I am referring to, on better race relations, on these interracial groups, et cetera. Mrs. Weatherford was very active in all of that. And they were always way ahead of the men in what they did, what they advocated, their willingness to take steps contrary to the mores of the community, so that I think that it's not so much a matter … I wouldn't classify it as greater courage or daring or any of these ways of categorizing it. But I think I would almost say that these women students as I knew them, and the group was relatively small who were ready to just down the barriers, you know, just discard them and ignore them. It was relatively small. But I think they were able, because of their ability to accept what their humaneness dictated to their consciances, I think they just took their best impulses and acted on them. And it was easier, they did not have as many of the fears, the very deep-laid fears, and bigoted attitudes that men were reared in.