Interview with: Bernice Middleton (BM)

Date of Interview: July 20, 1989
Place: Bernice Middleton'd home in Orangeburg, SC
Interviewer: Robert V. Williams (RW)
Transcriber: Debra Nemec
Permission to Use Restrictions

RW: Ms. Middleton, as I've said what I'd like to do is to take a semi-biographical approach in doing this. I have here in my sheet of information about you that you were born November 11, 1922 in Orangeburg, is that right?

BM: That's right.

RW: Tell us a little bit about your family background; where you grew up; what the education of your parents was like; how they emphasized school, those kinds of things.

BM: My parents were Alonzo W. Bryant and Gertrude Bryant. I have a brother. Both of my parents worked at Claflin. My mother was secretary to the President at Claflin College for a very long time. I couldn't tell you exactly how many years. But she was there through Dr. Randolph's administration and then she was there for a while under Dr. Seabrook. My father worked at Claflin. He was in Industrial Education, then termed Manual Training. But then at some point-- the courses which he was teaching were discontinued. Most of his years were spent at Mayo High School in Darlington, teaching Industrial Ed.. and coaching football. So they were both very education oriented.

RW: Were they graduates of Claflin?

BM: My mother had a degree from Claflin, below the B.S. level. Then through her working years, she went to S.C. State, after hours. She earned her BS in business administration.

RW: So they worked at Claflin over a long period of time while you were in high school.

BM: My mother did. I went to Claflin from first grade through senior college.

RW: Oh, you're another one of those who did most of their education at Claflin?

BM: Yes, that's right.

RW: I think Ms. Caldwell was one of those.

BM: That's right.

RW: That's an interesting phenomena. First grade, kindergarten--right straight on through. Well, how was Claflin in those years?

BM: Claflin was a very good quality institution in those years.The president was really interested in the arts and cultural things. For example, he would bring a band from Boston almost every year; you had to go to assembly, things like that. There was a lot of emphasis on the cultural. They also had very good faculty, very sincere. For example, my English teacher, Ms. Marie Martin. I haven't run into anybody better than she through all my years. Claflin had good faculty.

RW: Now, I bet with both your mother and father around at school you had to behave yourself during all those years.

BM: Well, my father wasn't there long-- during the time that I was in school. He was in Darlington at that point. Oh sure, I had to behave-- sure did.

RW: With your mother as secretary to the president.

BM: That's right, that's right.

RW: What was your major then in college at Claflin?

BM: English.

RW: English.

BM: With a minor in Library Science.

RW: When did this interest in Library Science begin?

BM: In college really. They offered a minor. And we had a lot of contact in the library. I couldn't say that they had a marvelous collection, what they did have was really good.

RW: Who was teaching the undergraduate Library Science courses there at the time?

BM: Harvey Lee Ward. She is still living. She lives in Rock Hill.

RW: And so you took how many hours in Library Science?

BM: I think 18.

RW: And did you work in the library at Claflin while you went to school?

BM: As part of the program we were in. As I recall you had to do a little practice work.

RW: Was there a major at Claflin?

BM: No.

RW: It was strictly a minor that you could choose if you wanted to.

BM: That's right.

RW: Where did most of the graduates go from the program in Library Science?

BM: Well, the emphasis wasn't really on the Library Science. At that time, you couldn't get a job on the 18 hour program. Well, for example, in my case, when I graduated, and incidentally, I was 19 -- because I skipped two grades. My first job was at [Granard] High School in Gaffney as a Teacher-Librarian. I was qualified to be that. That's what it did for me.

RW: I have that you finished at Claflin in '44.

BM: '42.

RW: '42, OK. And then went on immediately as a Teacher-Librarian at the High School in Gaffney.

BM: That's right.

RW: And there you were...

BM: I stayed there one year.

RW: '42-'43.

BM: Right. Then I went to Atlanta University for graduate school. At that time, there was a bachelor's degree in Library Science, the BSLS. I did that. It was a one year program and I earned that in 1944. Shortly thereafter the degree became obsolete. So in the 50's, I went back to AU and in 1957 I earned a Master's degree. Then I went to the University of Illinois for one summer. I didn't really like it there. By that time I was into college teaching. But I didn't expect Illinois to be as it was.

RW: By that you mean what?

BM: By that I mean, for example, there was a professor there who was on leave from the University of California. It was a small seminar class, and every day he came to class, he'd come in with some racial joke. And then he would say, "No offense to you Bernice." I was the only black in the class. He would say," No offense to you Bernice." And every time he would tell them, I was offended. You know? I expected that in the south but I didn't expect it at the University of Illinois. Well, as a matter of fact, they had just integrated the dorms just before I went there. So when I went to school again, I went to the University of Pittsburgh. And that experience was entirely different.

RW: You were at Illinois in '65, is that right?

BM: That's probably right. Because..... I just went there one summer. But at Pittsburgh, I got the Advanced Certificate in 1968.

RW: I have summer of '67, '68. Well, let me go back a little bit and talk a bit about Atlanta University in '43 and '44. Virginia Lacey Jones was the director there at the time, is that right?

BM: '43, '44, no Eliza Atkinson Gleason was there at that time.

RW: What was AU like in those years?

BM: AU has always been.... Well, I don't know about now--but they were a top institution. And Eliza Atkinson was outstanding.

RW: Did you specialize in school library services there in getting your BSLS, and the MLS?

BM: No.

RW: It was just a general program that you took.

BM: Right, that's right.

RW: You felt that the quality of the program was quite good then at AU...

BM: Right.

RW: ...with a wide variety of things...

BM: Right.

RW: -- What faculty do you remember particularly in terms of courses?

BM: I remember Eliza Atkinson Gleason very well.

RW: Right, she would have been there at the time too. How did you happen to choose AU rather than some other school such as Hampton? Was this a difficult choice for you to make?

BM: No.

RW: It was nearer home?

BM: Right, it was nearer home.

RW: Hampton was still operating at the time.

BM: I'm pretty sure that it was. But I'd also had some contact at that time with AU. I had an aunt who taught in the lab school in Atlanta. I had been there and seen it. When I reached college age, I really, really wanted to go to Howard University. I was tired of Claflin.

RW: I would imagine so, after twelve years.

BM: I had heard a lot about Howard but my mom and dad didn't have the money to send me to Howard. I have seen Howard since, and when I saw it, I said, "well, maybe I didn't miss so much after all."

RW: Where did this long term commitment to Library Science come from? Was it just the slow kindling of interest as a result of the work at Claflin?

BM: You know at one time I really, really wanted to be a nurse. And then I realized that the sight of blood wasn't quite my thing. I was also interested in social work. For some reason or other... during the early days of the 50's, I was fairly committed to social work. I did sort of debate about transferring, but then, I didn't. And I never really intended to get into library education. But that was sort of thrust on me after I ... you know... because I really started off at State in the library.

RW: Well, how about the experience at Gaffney? Was it a good experience?

BM: No.

RW: No?

BM: No. I'll tell you what happened there. The discarded books from Limestone College --- that was the collection as I found it for the most part. 80% to 90% of the collection were discards from Limestone College. In the first place, the level was too high. They just wanted books. They were counting books there. As long as you had a book, it didn't matter what the book was. Frankly, I raised cain about it. I had a principal who would listen.

RW: Now, this is an all black high school at the time.

BM: That's right. And Limestone was all white. When they got ready to discard books they just sent them over there.

RW: You were accepting these for the purposes of accreditation primarily.

BM: That's right. By count, just by count, not by the age of the collection. And that's what had happened when I got there.So the principal got some money from somewhere and he let me buy books. And then we had a battle over... He said the books were so expensive -- he didn't want the kids to take them home. And I said, " Oh No, we can't go along with that." He about knuckled down. We got along. As a matter of fact, I used to ride back to Gaffney with him on weekends.

RW: Is that right? You were part time teaching, part time librarian.

BM: That's right.

RW: How was the split, time wise?

BM: The library was open before school and after school for the most part. And I had a full teaching load.

RW: This was strictly something you did extra?

BM: That's right.

RW: Did you get paid extra for it?

BM: No. I got $75 a month, total salary.

RW: When did you have time to process the books and that type of thing?

BM: After the library closed.

RW: It must have been an interesting experience.

BM: It was. It really was.

RW: Do you remember what the total budget was for the books that you bought?

BM: No, I don't.

RW: Did they have to come from some approved list or anything like that?

BM: I used a list.

RW: That was put out by the State Department of Education? So you were there just one year when you decided to go to Atlanta University?

BM: Right. I went to Atlanta U. on a scholarship.

RW: So the BSLS I have in '44...

BM: That's right.

RW: Then what did you do after you finished with the BSLS in Library Science? I have that you were assistant cataloger at Atlanta University.

BM: That's right.

RW: So you just stayed on working there at that time. How did you choose cataloging?

BM: I always liked cataloging. As a matter of fact, I taught cataloging during most of my years at S.C. State.

RW: So this really became one of your specializations. You were working at Atlanta University then in '44 to '46 I have.

BM: That's right.

RW: And then came back to State in '47.

BM: Yes...

RW: Or came to State, I should say. As Assistant Librarian in '47?

BM: Let's see. I worked some summers...

RW: Was getting married the thing that brought you back to State?

BM: That's right.

RW: So your husband is from...

BM: Orangeburg.

RW: Orangeburg. So romance blossomed one of these summers?

BM: Oh, well I've known him all of my life. And that's a story in itself. Because he had a lot of other girlfriends. And I had other boyfriends. We used to write love letters in those days, and we hand delivered each others letters. And then I don't know what happened. A friend of his told me that he really liked me. I said, that's impossible. So it just sort of went on from there.

RW: And you were married what year?

BM: In '46.

RW: '46.

BM: He's a World War II veteran.

RW: Is he also a graduate of Claflin?

BM: As a matter of fact he volunteered for the Air Corp, which means he left in January. But what they allowed him to do was to come back and take his exams. So he graduated with his class.

RW: So marriage brought you back to South Carolina State and you worked still doing cataloging... what kinds of jobs did you do?

BM: Then I worked two summer sessions. I really had a contract. When I came back I was interviewed by the president --who at that time was President Whittaker-- and I had a contract to work during the '46 school year. But then I got pregnant. So I had to give up my contract. I worked the summer session of '46 and summer session '47. From '49 to '52 I worked as Circulation Librarian at State. From '53 to '58, I was Assistant Professor in the Department of Library Service. I was working as an assistant to Katherine Moses. She was from Columbia. Then when she left, I was made Associate Professor and Chairman. And I was in that position from '58 to '81. In '82 , I was promoted to Professor and Chairman of the Department. During this period, the name of the Department was changed from Department of Library Service to Department of Library Media Services.

RW: Let's talk a little bit about the Library education program at State. It had begun in what year, do you recall?

BM: In 1948.

RW: In '48.

BM: Emily Copland was the first Chairman.

RW: You were at State, so you were there at the very beginning of the program?

BM: No.

RW: I mean you were working in the Library but you were aware of its beginning.

BM: Yes, I was there, as of 1949.

RW: Do you recall why it began, was it an extension of the classroom program, or...

BM: Oh no... I don't really know anything about the origin of the program. You interviewed Lillien Walker.

RW: Right.

BM: She was a student in the program.

RW: I think so during your time. And you began teaching in the program, I have here...

BM: '53.

RW: '53, I have '52.

RW: Okay, You began as an instructor.

BM: That's right.

RW: Now this meant you left work in the library completely.

BM: That's right.

RW: And started work full-time teaching?

BM: That's right.

RW: And what kinds of courses were you teaching then?

BM: Cataloging, Children's Literature, and an introductory course. I'm not sure that I taught that at that time, but it was an introduction that librarians....

RW: The intro course?

BM: Right.

RW: Well its not real important to know the precise courses since that will probably be well documented in the files of the program.

BM: I was also in charge of library internships.

RW: Who were the other staff members in the school with you at the time, or were you the only one? Ms. Moses was director of the program, right?

BM: There were two of us at that time. She and I.

RW: Just the two of you.

BM: We were the staff.

RW: About how many students were there in a year?

BM: Well, it seems to me at one time there were about fifty students. I do have some enrollment figures for the years.

RW: I was just curious as to how it grew over time. Did you start out with a few students and ....

BM: No, it really started out.... It was a new thing and there was new emphasis on libraries. When I started teaching, there was no problem as far as students were concerned.

RW: So lots of students.

BM: Yes.

RW: Now most of them were preparing to be school librarians.

BM: That's right.

RW: So you began as an instructor and then what, in '58, I have here, you became the chair over the department.

BM: Yes, that's right.

RW: Did Mrs. Moses retire at the time?

BM: No, she went to Washington. I think she had some sort of job with the Department of Education [?]

RW: Some place along about that time is when Ms. Walker also started teaching in the program, right?

BM: She was part of the library staff. I don't recall her having taught in the program over that period. This is when Ms. Caldwell came in.

RW: Maybe I'm thinking of Ms. Caldwell, because she was teaching full time in the program.

BM: That's right, she was there.

RW: You were the director and she was the assistant...

BM: That's right.

RW: All right, so most of your students got jobs in school libraries. Do you then supervise their internships?

BM: That's right; on site.

RW: Because this was still in the time of segregation, what were the school libraries in the black schools like?

BM: They varied in quality. For example, a school like C.A. Johnson, they had a good library. Like Burke High School- good library. Some of the smaller schools-- none were as bad as the library in Gaffney-- they have come a long way, you know. We would push for certain cases and libraries became a focal point as far as certification was concerned. But there was a great deal of improvement. For example, right here in Orangeburg, initially, they were combined. The county library and the school library were combined. But then when they built the high school...

RW: Did most of the black schools around the state have school librarians at the time?

BM: Yes, through the period that I was surpervising school library interns, most of them did.

RW: And seemed to have a good budget for buying materials, say in the elementary schools, middle schools, high schools?

BM: No, I don't know whether you could call it good, but... The State Department was enforcing regulations. I mean they had it spelled out-- how much per pupil the library was supposed to get.

RW: And generally, the black schools were getting this, do you think?

BM: As far as I know, generally.

RW: What were your relationships like with Ms. Nancy Jane Day in the State Department of Education?

BM: She worked very closely with the schools. And also Ms. Ehrhardt.

RW: Right. When she came along a few years later.

BM: Did she stay at the State Department?

RW: No, she retired about three or four years ago.

BM: What about Ms. Day? Is she still around?

RW: Yes, she is and she has been one of our interviews. I still haven't gotten my transcript back from her yet.

BM: She was an extraordinary person.

RW: Yes. I have generally heard good things about her. I just wondered, from what Mrs. Augusta Baker said, remembering her and people like her and Ms. Bolden. There seem to be good comments about her willingness to work with the black librarians.

BM: Right.

RW: So you generally had good experiences with her?

BM: Oh yes. One that I can really recall is...I hate to sound so racial but in these days....

RW: That's right. This is what I want to know about.

BM: The South Carolina Association of School Librarians... At one time, blacks had their own association and Ms. Bolden was connected with the Palmetto Association. We couldn't join the South Carolina Association of School Librarians, but at some point they integrated. And they held meetings at a hotel in Greenville.They had decided to let us in on the meetings. But the hotel wouldn't let us stay there.

RW: Was this SCLA or the SCASL?

BM: This was SCASL.

RW: Were they meeting with SCLA at the time?

BM: No, I [don't believe so].

RW: So you think this was a separate meeting. You don't remember what year this was, do you?

BM: No.

RW: Because I remember a similar incident happening in Greenville about a meeting of SCLA and I thought it might be the same.

BM: It could be. Well, anyway, she really stuck with us on that.

RW: She did? She was very supportive? What about in helping you with working school librarians ....

BM: Very, very supportive.

RW: Did you ever have a chance during the '50's, when you were around visiting your interns in the school libraries, to go to the white schools and see what their libraries were like and compare them?

BM: Not during the 50's. Definitely not during the 50's.

RW: So you never had a chance to make any kind of comparisons...?

BM: Not during the 50's. Now after schools were integrated, we had quite a few white students, but not during the 50's.

RW: What suprised me was the lack of ability to compare with the level of support white schools were getting for their libraries and the level of support black schools were getting for theirs. I assume that Ms. Day was helping both sides...?

BM: That's right.

RW: ...and so she would have known what that comparison was like?

BM: That's right.

RW: But you were never able to see what that comparison was like. Let's go back to the educational program. Was there any kind of cooperation between you and the undergraduate program that was taking place at USC? I don't remember when that program started to train school librarians.

BM: I don't remember the undergraduate program at USC.

RW: Yes, there was one; I'm not sure when it began, but there was one for a number of years-- an undergraduate program.

BM: I know there was one at Columbia College and Baptist College, but I just don't remember. But I had good working relationships with USC always.

RW: But this was just when a Master's program was established there?

BM: Yes, right.

RW: But you had no connections with the undergraduate programs at the other places?

BM: At the other places?

RW: Yes, say at Columbia College or Baptist College?

BM: I was on visiting teams for reaccreditation.

RW: By the State Department of Education?

BM: No, not the State Department of Education. The Regional...

RW: Oh, by the Southern Association?

BM: That's right. I was on the visitation team at Columbia Colege in `77. We also made an on site visit following disapproval of the School of Librarianship at USC.

RW: Oh really, what year was that?

BM: I am not certain. I was not on the follow-up. I also went to Baptist College in '75. And then to various high schools: Liberty High School, Christ Church Greenville, county schools,Colleton High School, Spartanburg and so forth.

RW: And these were accreditation...

BM: That's right. Also, Lincoln High School in Sumter...

RW: So you were doing a lot of accreditation business during that time for the Southern Association.

BM: That's right, especially during the '70's.

RW: Now, you say the school began with a large number of students...

BM: As I recall...

RW: ...did it slowly decline over time?

BM: As I recall, I think we had 18 students who had planned to return the next year when they abandoned the program.

RW: Why was the program discontinued?

BM: Well, there were periods when enrollment got low. And the legislature was pushing the full-time equivalent thing. In looking at the various colleges, they were looking at full time equivalant students. That's how the thing really started--because we had a low enrollment.

RW: These were a lot of part-time students?

BM: Not a lot of part time. What they were really looking at was full-time students. Business administration was the going thing,and everybody was flocking to business administration. It takes a special kind of student anyway to want to be a librarian. And then there was other things that I won't go into.

RW: Well, please tell me, I'd like you to talk about what was happening. Now, you control this interview so-- and the manuscript and so-- what other kinds of things? I hope you'll talk about them. Are these internal politics as well as other things...?

BM: No, student teacher relationship.

RW: That were difficult?

BM: Yes.

RW: For you personally?

BM: Not for me. But I really don't...

RW: Don't want to talk about this? Okay.

BM: ...but that's the hard core.

RW: In terms of closing, some of the problems. So support was declining at State and the administration at State did not support the program because of the numbers?

BM: That's right.

RW: What about in terms of jobs? Were your students still getting jobs pretty readily?

BM: Oh yes. Now, there was a point at which the highest score required on the NTE was in our professional area. [tape stopped]

RW: I was curious about what the effect of starting the Master's program at USC had on your program. Was there any effect as far as you could see? Particulary given the fact that the undergraduate degree in Library Science .... Some folks don't like it and the availability of the Master's program in the state might have affected your program.

BM: I don't think so.

RW: You didn't see any effect at all because of what? Almost 100% of your folks were headed toward being school librarians and all they needed was the bachelor's degree.

BM: Right. And we've had quite a few who went through the Master's program at USC. I remember a point that I made at a meeting that we were not in competition with USC. We had no intention. Rather we were a complement to USC. Here again, our students, by necessity I would say, were more job conscious immediately upon graduation. And they couldn't see going into another field. In other words, waiting until you get to the Master's level to decide to get ready to prepare for a job. But I've always had very good working relations with USC. From the time Dr. Summers got the job as Dean on through. Who's in there now?

RW: Fred Roper. He was at Chapel Hill. He came about two years ago. He's the dean now. Were you consulted to any extent when the school was established at USC?

BM: When it was established?

RW: Right.

BM: No.

RW: No one came down and talked to you all about setting up the program or anything?

BM: No.

RW: What kind of support were you getting from the library administration-- such as Dr. Jenkins and those folks, for your program?

BM: Well, Dr. Jenkins was not the librarian in the early administration. Mrs. Nix was the librarian. And she had no special relationship with the program except when we were in the same building.

RW: You were officially under the School of Education weren't you?

BM: You mean when I started teaching?

RW: Right.

BM: Yes.

RW: And you stayed as a faculty member in the School of Education?

BM: That's right.

RW: All through those years?

BM: That's right.

RW: But generally the library supported your work as far as you could tell in terms of getting work experience-- or did they do that?

BM: We didn't use the college library in terms of the program. Internships had to be done in a school library situation.

RW: Ok. So you use Wilkinson High and places like that?

BM: All over the state. We would send one to Wilkinson per year. Most of the internships were done during the second sememster. And they went all over the state.

RW: The students started taking courses in their sophomore year in library science?

BM: Actually, they took the introductory course in their freshman year.

RW: This is what, a 24 hour program? A complete major in library science? Were these mostly South Carolinians that were coming to the program? Is that where most of them went?

BM: Most of them. Most of them were South Carolinians. We also had some males in those days. We had about 9 football fellows in the program at one time.

RW: Oh, is that right?

BM: For some reason... Of course Coach Jeffries-- he has returned to State-- had a lot of respect for our program. He knew we did what we could for students. We were serious about the business of education. He recruited about 9 or 10 football players. Some of them did really well. The thing that made me think about that was I remembered a boy in school from Pennsylvania who was really good.

RW: It's interesting to have football players...

BM: That was an interesting experience.

RW: That's a different image from what you usually get.

BM: Right! As a matter of fact, there was another one I saw at church last Sunday. He was telling me that he was named teacher of the year at North; he is Media Specialist at North, South Carolina.

RW: Given those kinds of things you talked about in terms of school closing-- the department closing-- what would you have liked to have seen other than a continuation? Would you have changed the program in any way? Changed emphasis from school libraries to something else? What do you wish had happened to the program?

BM: What really happened was that enrollment was on the way up. We had hit rock bottom and we were on the way up and it was just discontinued. I think we could have made it. As I said earlier, something was said about Columbia College and Baptist College. In both instances, as I understand, they kept the program as long as they had one student. Whether that's true or not, I don't know.

RW: I think that's largely true from what I've heard. What was his [the President of State] response to that?

BM: He didn't answer me. I really think it was a decision that had been made when we reached rock bottom. Another problem we had was replacing Mrs. Caldwell after she retired. I tried to get a member of the library staff who was one of our former students. I really wanted her--Mary Smalls--and Shirley Brown, librarians at State who had taught courses in our program-- but I couldn't get either one of them. Then a lady came here from some place in Georgia and she was interviewed and offered the position. But she was having some family problems-- she had a daughter, I think, she just had a divorce or something. And then she really thought about making the move and decided against it. So that was another thing.

RW: Now you retired right about the time the program ended?

BM: Yes.

RW: You said it has taken some time to work your way through that disappointment.

BM: Right.

RW: Does that still mean you were trying to save it during the time after you retired?

BM: Oh no. After I got the letter from the president..... And some attempts have been made since then to revive the program.

RW: I know Barbara had made some efforts to get the program started back a couple of years ago.

BM: The person who really proposed the effort to have it reinstated was Dr. Vermelle Johnson. She's Executive Vice-President and Provost. She really put forth some effort to have the program reinstated. It went as far as the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. But I haven't heard anything recently.

RW: Why it was turned down by the Commission on Higher Education?

BM: Well, the last thing that I saw was a memo to her asking some questions...

RW: So they were asking her the reason the program was phased out? That should be in the files. I was curious because I had talked with Dr. Jenkins about her proposal and we had talked about it briefly. My area is not school libraries so I really wasn't aware of the arguments that could be made for an undergraduate program and those kinds of things. But she just happened to mention it to me in passing one day when I saw her. Then I heard finally that it had been turned down by the Commission on Higher Education. I guess, in fact over all these years, that you have found out yourself that there have been lots of questions about having an undergraduate program in Library Science at all?

BM: That's right.

RW: I just wondered, were you bothered during this time or were you confident there was a good place in the profession for folks who had graduated...

BM: I was confident that there was a place for them.

RW: Were those folks primarily...

BM: And especially at the point when "consumer" libraries reached the point where they were among the paraprofessional staff. There were levels, so there was always a place for an undergrad graduate.

RW: In the larger high school libraries where there could be two or three professionals?

BM: Right.

RW: Well arguments are now being made for undergraduate degrees. They have really put in degrees for information science-- or all kinds of libraries-- not just school libraries. I know it's been a debate throughout the profession for a long time.

BM: Very much so.

RW: If we could go back a little bit. I was curious about your decision, once you had gotten your BSLS from A.U., why you started back not long after that to get your Master's Degree from A.U. Was this because...

BM: I had no choice. The BSLS was obsolete.

RW: With the change, in about `52, in the accreditation standpoint.

BM: It was even before that.

RW: Was AU insisting that you go do this, or...

BM: No.

RW: Excuse me, was South Carolina State insisting that you go do this?

BM: Yes. I don't know whether they were insisting so much but I realized that I virtually didn't have a graduate degree. Except the knowledge that I had, I didn't have the right degree.

RW: How different was the Master's program from the Bachelor's program?

BM: The bachelor's program was much rougher. Perhaps because...or maybe it was the fact that I had been through it the undergrad program.

RW: You had been teaching for a number of years too, so you knew the literature really better. Were the courses pretty similar in content? And you did this during the summers from '52 to '57, while you were teaching at State full-time?

BM: It didn't take that many summers. I got the degree in '57.

RW: I have here that you had gone summers from '52 to '57 but you don't recall it being quite that many.

BM: No.

RW: That in itself must not have been easy because you already had one child by then, or....

BM: That's right.

RW: And difficult to leave two or three months to go to Atlanta?

BM: During summer sessions.

RW: Now you have a total of how many children?

BM: Three.

RW: Three? And were they born pretty much during that period of time?

BM: Very widely spaced. My youngest daughter is 30. My son is 34; and my oldest daughter is 42.

RW: You really did spread them out.

BM: 8 years between the first two and four years ....

RW: That means you were practically having them while you were working full time and going to school in the summer, the last one particularly.

BM: I had to spend 11 years as a parent in the Felton Lab.School on Campus. I thought I was never, ever, going to get out of the PTA.

RW: I know that feeling too. It's like the diaper pail in the bathroom... and suddenly it's gone. PTA will never....

BM: Right.

RW: Let's talk a little about your professional activities over this entire time. I have that you were members of ALA, SELA and SCLA. Of course you were also a member of the librarians group in the Palmetto Teacher's Association.

BM: That's right.

RW: What kinds of work were you doing with those groups, what offices had you held, and those kinds of things?

BM: I don't recall having held an office with Palmetto Librarians Association but after integration, I was the President of SCASL for a year.

RW: I have that you were president '72 -'73 of the SCASL

BM: That's right.

RW: Now this is not many years after integration of the two.

BM: Actually it was the early years of integration. There were few black librarians.

RW: How did it happen that you were nominated and elected? Do you remember how this happened?

BM: Not really. I remember having worked with Helen Callison; she was at Airport High. And she was the preceding president. I think she was probably instrumental.

RW: So you had good relationships with her... And did most of the black school librarians who were in the Palmetto Teacher's Association library group, did they come over and join the SCASL?

BM: You bet.

RW: And the only incident you remember was in Greenville in terms of discrimination against blacks?

BM: As far as South Carolina is concerned. But I was forced to leave the hotel in Knoxville at a meeting there. That was when the students were demonstrating. The hotel was not too far from Knoxville College. Anyway, I was invited to be a consultant at the University of Tennessee. The letter said they had made reservations at the hotel. I checked in with no incidents. I took my bags to my room and I didn't come down any more that night. So I spent the night and the next morning. I think it was about 10:00 o'clock, I went in the coffee shop and when I hit the coffee shop, they refused to seat me. I said to myself then,something is very wrong. I was the only black in the place. I have been involved in a number of those kinds of things. I was a little adamant about it. I went and sat down and read the menu and nobody came to take my order. Finally the manager of the hotel came and he straddled a chair and said: "Are you Mrs.Middleton?" I said yes. Then he went on this long discourse about racial difficulties. He said he would pick up my tab for the night before, he would call a cab and send me over to a black hotel--he didn't say "black hotel" but that is what he meant. With the others who were there, for example Virginia Jones and some other black people who were there, but they had sense enough to go to a motel. So that's what he did. I remember he sent a bell-hop up to pack my bags.

RW: Who checked you into the hotel?

BM: The guy who packed my bags. He had this turban on. I suppose he was from Africa or something. He said: "They let you in here?"The University of Tennessee officials were very,very unhappy about this.

RW: I guess so, but it was still very difficult to take. So Dr. Jones had come but they had stayed at another motel?

BM: I think there were about 6 or 8 blacks. It was a large motel. It never crossed my mind that there'd be any problem.

RW: You don't remember what year this was?

BM: No, but the early 60's.


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