Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Abby Marlatt, January 18, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Today is, um, Monday January 18th, 1999. And I am Fon Gordon associate professor, history department UK, interviewing Abby L. Marlatt.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Abby Marlatt is introduced. She talks about her parents and their occupations. She talks about her abolitionist background, and says that her grandfather moved to Kansas with the express purpose of trying to make Kansas a free state. She talks about the various places her family lived before settling in Kansas.

Keywords: Abolitionists; Fathers; Foundry; Grandfathers; Grandmothers; Jobs; John Brown; Machine shops; Migration; Mothers; Moving; Nebraska; Occupations; Parents; Relocation; Santa Rosa (Calif.); Teachers; Tenant farming

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Families.; Family histories.; Family--history; Manhattan (Kan.); Race discrimination.; Slavery--United States.; United States--Race relations.

GPS: Manhattan (Kan.)
Map Coordinates: 39.191667, -96.591667
00:08:45 - Lessons on race from her family

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Partial Transcript: Um, having come from that abolitionist background did that include any lessons about race?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about her father's views on racial equality. She talks about attending a segregated elementary school but says that her high school was integrated, though the children did not interact much with one another. She talks about whether her family employed Black workers.

Keywords: Acceptance; Black community; Domestic workers; Employees; Equality; Fairness; Fathers; Integrated schools; Race issues; Segregated schools

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Discrimination in education.; Race discrimination.; School integration; Segregation in education.; United States--Race relations.

GPS: Manhattan (Kan.)
Map Coordinates: 39.191667, -96.591667
00:12:17 - College education

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Partial Transcript: Um, obviously education was very important in your family.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about always knowing she would attend college, and talks about why she chose home economics as her major at Kansas State College. She talks about attending the University of California at Berkeley to earn a certificate in dietetics, before being encouraged to pursue her doctorate. She later returned to Kansas State to teach.

Keywords: Advancement; Aunts; Certificates; Competition; Dietetics and institution management; Family values; High school; Home economics; Kansas State University; Mothers; PhD; Promotions; University of California at Berkeley

Subjects: College environment; College majors; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Tenure.; College teaching.; Educators; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

GPS: Kansas State University
Map Coordinates: 39.191667, -96.580833
00:18:28 - Becoming Director of the University of Kentucky School of Home Economics

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Partial Transcript: Um, how did you come to, um--did you apply for the position at UK for Director of the coll--of the School of Home Economics or did they seek you out?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about being offered a position at the University of Kentucky as Director of the School of Home Economics in 1956. She talks about her predecessor, Dr. Statie Erikson, and discusses her goals for the department when she became director. She talks about the number of female administrators and faculty at UK at the time.

Keywords: Business school; College of Nursing; Dietetics; Dr. Statie Erikson; Food science; Job offers; School of Home Economics; University of Kentucky Hospital; University of Kentucky Medical Center; Women faculty

Subjects: Campus visits; College administrators--Selection and appointment.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:23:45 - Involvement with CORE in California

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Partial Transcript: Um, when did you become then involved in your CORE activities?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks more about her time in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley, discussing how she became involved with CORE and other civil rights activities. She talks about her work with the American Friends Service Committee, assisting conscientious objectors during World War II, as well as Japanese Americans who were being sent to relocation centers. She talks about learning about non-violent direct action from Bayard Rustin

Keywords: American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Bayard Rustin; CPS camps (Civilian Public Service); Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); Conscientious objectors; Graduate school; Integrated churches; Internment camps; Japanese Americans; Nonviolent direct action; Oakland (Calif.); Relocation centers; University of California at Berkeley; WWII; World War II

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Political activity.; College students--Social conditions; Integration; Race discrimination.; Student protesters; United States--Race relations.; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: University of California at Berkeley
Map Coordinates: 37.87, -122.259
00:29:51 - Involvement with civil rights activities while working at Kansas State

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Partial Transcript: Then in 1945, uh, when I came back to Kansas State to accept the job as, um, Assistant Professor of Foods and Nutrition there, um, I made contact again with the YM/YWCAs there...

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about teaching at Kansas State College beginning in 1945. She talks about her involvement with the YMCA and YWCA, which led to her involvement in a protest against the racial discrimination occurring in restaurants near the campus. She talks about how her parents felt about her involvement in civil rights activities.

Keywords: Attitudes; Kansas State University; Nonviolent direct action; Parents; Restaurants; Student organizations; YMCA; YWCA

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African Americans--Civil rights; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; College environment; College students--Political activity.; College teachers--Political activity; Educators; Integration; Race discrimination.; Student protesters; United States--Race relations.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

GPS: Kansas State University
Map Coordinates: 39.191667, -96.580833
00:33:14 - College summer service project in New York City, 1937

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Partial Transcript: I had forgot to ask you, when you were in high school were you involved in any civil rights activities in high school?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about her involvement in a college summer service project in New York City in 1937. She talks about her interactions with African American students, discusses visiting Harlem, and talks more about her parents' attitudes about her involvement in civil rights activities. She talks briefly about the rise of McCarthyism during her time at Kansas State College.

Keywords: Attitudes; College summer service projects; Communism; Communists; Contact; Harlem (New York, N.Y.); High school; Involvement; Kansas State University; McCarthyism; New York City (N.Y.); Parents; Protests; Red Scare; Relationships with African Americans; Undergraduates

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; College students--Political activity.; College teachers--Political activity; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Integration; Race discrimination.; Student protesters; United States--Race relations.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

GPS: Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.809033, -73.948372
00:40:52 - Civil rights activities at restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Okay so then we'll move on then to the University of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about becoming involved with the YWCA in Lexington, and talks about her friendship with William Reichert, another professor at the University of Kentucky. She talks about their efforts to create a local chapter of CORE, and the beginning of their protests against restaurants in downtown Lexington that were discriminating against African Americans. She names some of the restaurants, and describes the process by which the group tested for discrimination. She talks about the involvement of the county judge, the police chief, and the local theological seminaries in the protests. She talks about whether she was harassed because of her involvement.

Keywords: Advisory boards; Age; Audrey Grevious; Black community; Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); County judges; Customers; Downtown Lexington; Episcopal Theological Seminary; Gender; Harassment; Involvement; Lexington Theological Seminary; Nonviolence; Police Chief Hale; Professors; Reactions; Refused service; Restaurants; Testing; William Reichert; YMCA; YWCA

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky; African Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; Civil rights--Law and legislation; College administrators; College environment; College students--Political activity.; College teachers--Political activity; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Racism--Kentucky--Lexington; Student protesters; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:54:05 - Civil rights activities in other public accommodations in Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Um, so how long did these activities--what about the movie theaters?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about some of the other places in Lexington that were protested for their discriminatory policies, including the Ben Ali Theater, the Phoenix Hotel, and the public library.

Keywords: "Stand ins"; Banquets; Ben Ali Theatre; Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); Domestic workers; Harlem Globetrotters; Lexington Public Library; Mothers; Movie theaters; Nondiscrimination ordinances; Phoenix Hotel; Picketing

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky; African Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; Civil rights--Law and legislation; College administrators; College environment; College students--Political activity.; College teachers--Political activity; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Racism--Kentucky--Lexington; Student protesters; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
01:01:14 - Reactions to her involvement in Vietnam War protests

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Partial Transcript: So how did you move from the CORE, uh, involvement to the handbill incident?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about her involvement in the "handbill incident" in 1962, protesting the Vietnam War. She talks about the reactions of UK administration and her fellow faculty members to her involvement in anti-war protests.

Keywords: "Handbill incident"; Attitudes; Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); Personal life; Professional life; Publicity; Reactions

Subjects: Anti-war demonstrations; College administrators; College environment; College teachers--Political activity; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Peace movements.; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Public opinion; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Social aspects.

01:04:03 - Norma Perry

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Partial Transcript: Now when did you--what was your companion's name?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about her relationship with Norma Perry. She discusses how they met, and talks about Perry's career.

Keywords: Assistant professors; Childhood education; Manitoba (Canada); Masters degrees; Mothers; Norma Perry; Relationships; School of Home Economics

Subjects: College teachers.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

01:07:51 - More on the reactions to her involvement in Vietnam War protests

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Partial Transcript: Um, now the Handbill Incident occurred August 5th, 1962.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks more about her involvement in the "handbill incident" and protests against the Vietnam War. She talks about receiving phone calls and hate mail because of the incident, and says she was accused of being a communist. She talks about the reactions of the UK administration and other professors because of her involvement in protesting the war. Marlatt was demoted from her position as Director of the School of Home Economics in 1963, and discusses why she continued to work at the university in spite of this.

Keywords: "Handbill incident"; Accusations; American Association of University Professors (AAUP); Anti-government; Colleagues; Communism; Communists; Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); Demotions; Dr. Frank Dickey; Handbills; Hate mail; Petitions; Planning; Quitting; Reactions; School of Home Economics; Staying; Support; Telephone calls; Threats; University of Kentucky Medical Center

Subjects: Anti-war demonstrations; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; College administrators; College environment; College teachers--Political activity; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Peace movements.; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Public opinion; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Social aspects.

01:15:45 - Reactions from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture to her involvement in protests

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Partial Transcript: Um, one of the things in a newspaper article you were quoted as saying that, um, right, "I regret that I have not been able to administer the school in the vigorous program we all want for it. I hope a fine administrator in home economics will--with enthusiasm will soon be found."

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Marlatt talks about William Seay, the dean of the College of Agriculture (which included the School of Home Economics). She talks about his reactions to her involvement in both civil rights activities and anti-war protests. She talks about not receiving a raise until all women on campus were given raises. The interview ends abruptly.

Keywords: Arguments; College classes; Committees; Dean William Seay; Discussions; Enrollment; Limitations; Raises; Reactions; Sabbaticals; School of Home Economics; Subversive

Subjects: Anti-war demonstrations; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States; College administrators; College environment; College teachers--Leaves of absence; College teachers--Political activity; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Peace movements.; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. College of Agriculture; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Public opinion; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Social aspects.; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)