Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eulalie Salley, September 15, 1973. Interview G-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Class and regional identities among female activists

Salley identifies some of the differences that existed between the various activists according to their class and regional identities. To do this, she offers examples of various leaders including Lola C. Trax, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Bertha Munsell.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eulalie Salley, September 15, 1973. Interview G-0054. 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

CONSTANCE MYERS:
Under her was there a group of vice-chairwomen? How was it structured?
EULALIE SALLEY:
There was a Mrs. Cathcart in Columbia. I have it in my diary. I'll get that diary out when I get it to the office and I'll be glad to let you see it. It will give you the names of the officers of the first organization. I don't remember it, it's so long ago.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
There was a vice-chairwoman and you believe that the first one was from Columbia, Mrs. Cathcart?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Yes. It was one of two people. It was either Mrs. Cathcart or Susan Frost of Charleston.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Oh, yes, Susan Pringle Frost.
EULALIE SALLEY:
Yes. She was very prominent in the movement. That was before my day, before I got into the movement.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Under the vice-chairwomen how was the party organized?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Sort of hit and miss. They had no money. They had no organization to amount to anything. When Miss Cathcart got these funds, she sent a professional organizer down here by the name of Lola Trax. I remember her.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How did you spell Trax?
EULALIE SALLEY:
T-R-A-X. Lola Trax. She stayed in Columbia. I went up there and stayed with her. We organized up there. Then she came down here and organized a league here but they already had something of an organization in Columbia. They had several good hard workers up there and they've always had a live league up there. But they've never been active politically. I believe that if you want a bill put through you don't just endorse it. You get out and pick out a good man to put it through and work to get him elected.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
That was successful for you, wasn't it?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Yes, that's what I did. According to the League of Women Voters, you could not endorse a candidate. That's what killed my enthusiasm for the League.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did Miss Trax stay in Columbia long?
EULALIE SALLEY:
She stayed about a week and she spoke before the South Carolina legislature. She got a very cool reception.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did she have meetings wherein she instructed the branches how better to attract members?
EULALIE SALLEY:
They didn't have any branches then. They had the one in Columbia.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I see. You had not then organized the Aiken chapter?
EULALIE SALLEY:
No, this was at the very beginning of it.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you go to hear Miss Trax?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Yes, I went. I was a friend of Bertha Munsell and Bertha was one of the organizers in Columbia. Bertha Munsell. I stayed with her and Miss Trax stayed there. She organized this Columbia . . .
CONSTANCE MYERS:
She instructed you some in how to go out to your outpost and organize. What did she say to do? How did she say to go about it?
EULALIE SALLEY:
She said to get a group of women together and she gave us a sample of her constitution and told us what to do. It was really not much of an organization, I can tell you. We did mostly parades and circuses.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
That's attention getting; that's the thing to do.
EULALIE SALLEY:
Publicity stunts, that's what it really was and it got it. We made lots of enemies and men were just furious. Some of my best friends turned completely against me but I didn't care. There were men who just thought that a woman who was a suffragist wasn't decent. As one man said, "How can you sit at the table with a suffragist?" You were lower than a prostitute.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did Miss Trax advocate these publicity stunts?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Yes. She said, "Attract attention. Do it in any way. Put on public theatricals. Do anything you can to attract attention." That was not Mrs. Catt Her idea was quiet, dignified. She was like you. She wouldn't have gotten to first base in organization. She was too technical for the common herd.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Which was that, Mrs. Catt?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Mrs. Catt. Mrs. Catt was a brain like you. She was scientific and she was, I think, the most brilliant woman that ever lived. She had ideas so far above all the rest of us . All the women that associated with her loved and respected her.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
But Miss Trax was able . . . ?
EULALIE SALLEY:
But she could come down.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Where was she from?
EULALIE SALLEY:
I don't know. I think she was a western woman. A few western states came into the union with the vote. They'd never had it. I remember in speaking, somebody introduced Bertha Munsell. She came here from Colorado. They said, "We have a lady to speak to us today, a lady you've never seen before. You may not believe it, but she's a lady. She's a lady who has voted." And Bertha got up and she said, "I feel just like the ringtailed tiger in the circus." (laughing) And she was a curiosity. The men wanted to come up and touch her. She had voted. A marvel.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Amazing, those old attitudes.