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Oral History Interview with Emily S. MacLachlan, July 16, 1974. Interview G-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Emily MacLachlan grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1910s and 1920s. She begins the interview by briefly discussing her family history, and then turns her focus to her mother. The daughter of a Methodist minister and school teacher, MacLachlan's mother grew up in a household that espoused a liberal social gospel and relatively progressive views on race and social justice. While MacLachlan was a child, her mother focused primarily on raising her children and running her household (with the help at times of a handful of African American servants); however, in the 1930s she began to work more outside of the home as a social activist, primarily with Jessie Daniel Ames and the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching. MacLachlan explains how her mother (and other like-minded people of that generation) had a paternalistic approach towards solving problems of racial inequality and that the primary focus was on addressing racial violence and health problems rather than systemic problems. While MacLachlan's mother was advocating for an end to lynching in the South during the 1930s, MacLachlan had relocated to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a master's degree in sociology. MacLachlan's future husband also studied sociology at UNC, and she describes their work and life in Chapel Hill. MacLachlan explains her decision to stop work on her master's degree and to focus on raising her family instead of pursuing a career. She links this challenge to her upbringing and to social expectations of women. Later in life, however, MacLachlan did return to finish her graduate studies in sociology and to pursue a career following the unexpected death of her husband in the late 1950s. MacLachlan describes how she and her husband were drawn to radical politics and issues of social justice during the 1930s, their work with the U.S. Resettlement Administration and the Julius Rosenwald Fund in Georgia, and her brother's legal work for the civil rights movement in the 1960s. She concludes the interview with an addendum to the transcript that reiterates how women such as she and her mother faced unique hardships in balancing work, family, and social activism.
    Excerpts
  • Mother's role in the family and her work for social justice
  • Mother's views on race and approach to social justice
  • Balancing family and social activism
  • Brother's legal work towards advocating for civil rights of minority groups
  • Strong women role models, but little encouragement to pursue education further
  • Working for the Farm Settlement Administration
  • Impact of education on women's chances to marry
  • Mother's work in the anti-lynching movement and views on race
  • Starting a career following husband's unexpected death
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Resources for Educators
  • Southern Women Trailblazers Learning Object
  • Subjects
  • Civil rights--Mississippi
  • University of Florida. Dept. of Sociology
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.