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Interview #466: Clarenbach, Kathryn F. (September, 2009)

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Fourth Interview Session (October 13, 1987): Tapes 3-4

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00:00:06

The summer before graduate school (1941), KC was a counselor at a Girl Scout camp in Bear Mountain Park, New York. The job did not pay very much, but the setting was beautiful and she had a good time. Recruitment billboards posted at that time brought the war home to her. She had been active in efforts to forestall the war while at UW. Clarenbach continued to discuss her camp counselor experience and her experiences going to New York City during breaks from camp.

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00:05:40

KC talks about activities around and social events in Sparta. She also describes other school events, such as a boys’ basketball tournament, and dances, held out at a camp near Sparta. KC and her family hosted social events quite often, which she describes. This memory leads KC to discuss how her parents participated in a lot of the events that KC held at their house.

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00:18:13

These social activities prepared KC for her work at the Girl Scout camp in New York. She talks about the first year she and her husband worked at Olivet College. The following summer, the family was hired to work at a camp: her daughter as mascot, her husband as handyman, and herself as a crafts teacher. [From 00:40:32 to 00:40:47, tape 3 ends and tape 4 begins.]

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00:22:43

KC talks about life at the camp, including an experience she and her husband had with a prowler. She says that this experience taught her that she could be less timid when necessary.

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00:26:42

KC begins talking about World War II and her first year in graduate school in the fall of 1941.

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00:32:29

KC describes the changes on campus that occurred because of World War II and her personal responses to the war, especially her horror at the concentration camps and the U.S. internment of the Japanese.

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00:38:00

After taking the civil service exam, KC got a call to Washington to come and start work. She had her master's degree at this time. She describes her living situation and life in Washington. The job turned out to be a “fishing license,” with no real job offer. KC talks about the ensuing job search and tells the story of her interview with David Levine, who hired her to work in the Office of Policies and Procedures for the War Production Board. She describes her work in the office and talks about the “dollar-a-year” men, on loan to government from industry. She was hired as part of an experiment to see how well women would be received by these industry men. The office was almost 50% female when she left.

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00:46:38

KC mentions some of her negative experiences on the job. She tells what happened when the office workers were forbidden from going out for coffee and describes how they developed a nonsexist, non-classist procedure for making coffee in the office. There was a wide variety of people in the office.

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00:50:31

KC made a lot of good friends while working in Washington.

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00:52:27

There was great congeniality in the War Production Office in Washington when KC worked there. KC made as much money as the men. Reflecting on an encounter with the director of that office many years later, KC sees that having a staff that included women and minorities was important to him. Both the New Deal and the war, she says, created many opportunities for women and minorities. KC talks briefly about the racial divide in DC during WWII.

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00:58:09

There were many bright, college-educated women in Washington when KC worked there. There were many social gatherings of UW people. KC tells how she was voted Miss Big 10 at one of these gatherings.

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01:00:38

KC worked with the War Production Board for two years. During that time, she decided to end a five-year relationship because the man was not “good husband material,” which was part of the reason she left Washington before the end of the war. KC shares some of her thoughts on war in general and on the experience of her brothers in particular, one of whom was killed.

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01:02:43

KC explains how she ended up in graduate school. Because there were few applicants to graduate school, she was offered fellowships almost everywhere she applied. She decided to come to the UW because it was familiar and she felt she would finish more quickly. She returned to Madison in 1944 and finished her Ph.D. in two years.

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01:05:19

KC had the smoothest graduate school experience imaginable. She had no commitments other than her work. Her living arrangement turned out to be wonderful. KC describes her roommate and their morning routine.

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01:09:33

There were two or three women in the political science department when KC was a graduate student there. It was in this program that KC met Hank, her husband. She discusses how one of her professors introduced him to her.

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01:14:15

There were no female professors in the political science department, although Helen Clark was in sociology and Elizabeth Brandeis was in economics. KC was a teaching assistant during her first year of graduate school, but she did not do a lot of teaching. The closer she got to getting her degree, however, the more she thought she wanted to teach. Her thesis did not mention sexism or the suffrage movement at all.

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01:17:50

KC describes writing her Ph.D. thesis, a process she enjoyed. Focusing on native fascist movements, she argued that if fascism were ever to become powerful in the U.S., it would do so through accepted institutions. KC believes we have come close to that already. Comparing the women in the fascist movements of the past to contemporary fundamentalists, KC says that women do not have a monopoly on virtues.

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01:22:51

End of interview session 4

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