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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Alice Grogan Hardin, May 2, 1980. Interview H-0248. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Women and pregnancy in the rural South

Gender discrimination certainly did not keep women from manual labor in Hardin's community, she recalls. Women expecting children did not speak much about childbirth, let alone educate their daughters about pregnancy.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Alice Grogan Hardin, May 2, 1980. Interview H-0248. 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

ALLEN TULLOS:
Would your mother do work out in the field?
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
Oh, yes.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Would she plow?
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
No, she would hoe and pick cotton. That's what the girls did, and the boys done the plowing.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What about when she had her children?
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
She had her children at home. They didn't go to the hospital to have children then; they had them at home.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did she have someone help deliver?
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
Oh, yes, doctors. Doctors and midwives, they call them. Back when I was little, they kept things a secret from you more so than they do now in that line. You didn't know as much what was going on till after it had done happened.
ALLEN TULLOS:
They wouldn't ever talk about . . .
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
They wouldn't talk about raising children. Now if they was planning on another one coming, they wouldn't tell it like they do now. It was just kept a secret, all that stuff. And if we had company, us children had to go out and play. We didn't get to stay where our parents was to hear what was said, like they do today. You know, children today hear everything that's said, and back then you didn't.
ALLEN TULLOS:
I've heard people say that when babies were being delivered, sometimes the children would be taken somewhere else.
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
I was the oldest girl, and when I was about thirteen, why, I'd take them out, maybe off to play or off to the barn somewhere and stay all day long. You know, if it took that long. But we didn't get to stick our head in that door while nothing was going on.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And it was never ever explained to you, any of these matters about birth control or anything like that.
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
No. They thought it was a crime to talk about that in front of a child then. But now it's different.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What would happen to women who had children and were not married who lived in those rural communities back then?
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
I had a girl that went to school with me that wasn't married, and I didn't even know anything about her baby or anything. But one morning I was getting ready to go to school, and her daddy come to Mother's house for her. Her baby had been born, and she had put it in a dresser drawer and killed it. Her mother was dead, and she was about fifteen years old. If she was as ignorant and as green as I was, she didn't know what to do with it, so that's what she did with it. And so he come for my mother, but it was a long time after then before I ever knew what had happened. She wouldn't tell it, see.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did she stay in the community, or did she have to leave the community?
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
No, her daddy kept her.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And she just went right on like . . .
ALICE GROGAN HARDIN:
Yes. When I went to school, I had to walk about four miles there and four back.