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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Emily S. MacLachlan, July 16, 1974. Interview G-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Strong women role models, but little encouragement to pursue education further

MacLachlan talks about the presence of strong women role models on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the 1930s. MacLachlan and her husband both pursued graduate work in sociology, although unlike her husband, MacLachlan stopped with her master's degree. Despite the support of other women scholars, MacLachlan explains here that she had little encouragement to pursue her education further, citing family obligations as her primary responsibility.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Emily S. MacLachlan, July 16, 1974. Interview G-0038. 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

EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
Well, I thought that she was just delightfull, she was so friendly. Not all faculty wives take that much interest, you know, in graduate students and we felt very comfortable with her. And then there was Miss. Herring, she was working in the Institute and then Virginia … who was that girl graduate student?
HUGH BRINTON:
Virginia Denton, you mean?
EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
Virginia Denton, yes.
HUGH BRINTON:
Her sister lives right here in town now. Ginny comes down here occasionally.
EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
There were several girls who did have fellowships. There were several girls here with fellowships in the Institute.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Actually, it seems to me that there were more role models of professional women gravitating around the sociology department than …
EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
Oh, yes. You see, there was Katherine Jocher, and Miss. Herring and the lady who wrote the book on southern women, what was her name? She was the wife of a faculty member …
JACQUELYN HALL:
Julia Spruill.
EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
Yes. So, we had any number of role models. And of course, I had my mother's role … actually, I was not one of these girls who thought of herself as a career woman. And unfortunately, I didn't, because I should have gone straight for the PhD. If I had had any sense, that is what I would have done. I was satisfied to stop with the M.A.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was that?
EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
Because I was … I think that in my personality, I was more dependent, more interested in a family and children. We got our Masters in '32. I didn't go ahead with my … nobody encouraged me to.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Nobody in the department?
EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
Nobody at home or in the department.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why didn't your mother encourage you to?
EMILY S. MACHLACHLAN:
I think that really, she would have been pleased. But my father had disapproved of our marriage. He felt that we should not marry until Jack was established and when he did become a professor at Ole Miss, his first post, my father was delighted. Took him to his tailor to have a suit made for him … [Laughter] …professorial, you know. I think that my father and mother really expected us to settle down and have a family, and so, after Bruce was born, which came between the M.A. and the PhD., I just quit. I quit cold. I didn't think about my career or anything. It never occurred to me that I would have to support myself.