Interviewee: Ethel Allen
Interviewer: Louise Pettus
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Dr. Ethel Allen was from Philadelphia and she was invited by the South Carolina International Women’s Year Coordinating Committee to give an address at a luncheon. Allen was a former International Women’s Year Commissioner. Allen was also a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Interview includes discussion of: Allen’s experience growing up in the 1940s; how she wanted to become a physician as a young woman but was always encouraged to be a nurse; and her favorable impressions of the South Carolina conference, and how some women had significant disagreements but were respectful.
Louise Pettus: Let me have your name and where you’re from.
Ethel Allen: I’m Dr. Ethel Allen from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
LP: And why are you here at the Conference?
EA: Well, I was invited by the South Carolina International Women’s Coordinating Committee to address the convention body at the luncheon this afternoon as, since I am a former International Women’s Year Commissioner.
LP: Alright, and we’re glad to have you here –
EA: Thank you.
LP: – in South Carolina. And I think for the record we’d be interested in hearing your particular background and reasons for getting involved in the Women’s Year.
EA: Well, my background goes back a considerable distance insofar as service to women is concerned, to having grown up in the era, in the ‘40s when women were not recognized as complete entities and when you were aspiring to careers that were not traditional those of women. You were being thwarted by your counselors and thwarted by your neighbors and thwarted in some terms by your parents. I always wanted to become a physician and while I was in high school, Catholic education background, the nuns always reiterated time and time again that that happened to be a man’s field and why didn’t I just become a nurse, and this irritated me to a great extent.
So I set forth as a youngster working towards a goal that I’ve since achieved and then once having achieved the goal, working towards helping other women do this. In my political aspects of life I have always been a champion of the causes of women, not being what one might call an ardent feminist but certainly recognizing for modification, the need for change such as has been evidenced by those women who have fought for such change. And this was brought to the attention of Presidents Nixon and then concurrently Vice-President Ford, and when the International Women’s Year Commission was formed I was nominated.
LP: When did you come to the conference, yesterday or today?
EA: Yeah, so I arrived yesterday afternoon in the midst of your gigantic registration activity, which was really a sight to behold. You know, I’ve attended many, many women’s conferences being a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and member of some of the major sororities and women’s organizations cross-country, the (unintelligible at 2:21). And we usually have a large body of women turn out but never en masse, you know, in a kind of spirit and camaraderie as we saw here yesterday.
LP: So your general impression sounds as if it’s favorable.
EA: Oh, it’s very, very favorable. I like the way the meeting was handled, I like the way the readings were handled for that matter. I thought that the people coming to register were treated with a high degree of dignity and respect, despite the fact that there were some dissidence among them. And I thought that once the business session started yesterday afternoon or evening rather, that the matters of business were handled with dispatch. And under the circumstances I am very, very well pleased with the activities as demonstrated here in South Carolina, and I just hope that the other 50 states and territories that have been mandated by public law 94-167 to do the same thing will be able to carry off their activities to the same degree of flourish and dispatch.
LP: Alright. Thank you very much.
EA: You’re welcome.
End of Interview