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Georgia Crockett Aiken


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Georgia Crockett Aiken (1872-unknown) was a teacher for the majority of her life from Wilson, N.C. She was interviewed for the Federal Writers Project in 1939 by Stanley Combs.

Biography

Georgia Crockett Aiken (also known as Belle) was born in 1872. She was a part of a large family with nine other siblings. However, her parents still made her attend school regularly. After she finished the ninth grade, she took the teachers examination, which tested her in “orthography, reading… geography, physiology, and hygiene,” and passed.[1]

In 1889 she started teaching at a rural, one-teacher school to a class of 30 students. This school was located five miles away from her house and she earned around $25 a month. Aiken would travel to the school early on cold winter days to heat up the building because she felt like it was her duty to have a warm classroom for her students. She also would travel to school through extreme conditions on days when the mailman would turn back.

In 1908 she moved to Wilson, North Carolina to finish her high school degree where she earned her first grade certificate (a higher teaching level) and received a considerable increase in her salary. After two years there, she married John Aiken (also known as Stuart Beens) who owned a livery stable. However, he passed away right before they moved into a new house together. Aiken was then responsible for maintaining the livery stable. After four years of running the business, automobiles became popular and there was a decline for the need of livery stables. Therefore, Aiken sold her business and focused mainly on her teaching career. During the Great Depression many teachers lost their jobs, but not a single public school shut down.[2]

It is unknown whether or not she was one of the teachers who lost their job, but after her teaching career ended, she became a housekeeper, opening rooms in her house for people to stay. Even at her age, she had to keep working to support herself. Times were hard for her during the Great Depression. When she did not have enough, instead of borrowing money she would go without.

Aiken was an independent woman who knew how to take care of herself. She grew up during the time when women were gaining more rights, such as the right to vote. Aiken said she would vote in every election until she could not make it to the polls. She believed that women needed to have the right to vote to help end the political corruption running throughout the government

Social Issues

Women's Rights

The feminist movement started growing rapidly between 1880-1892. More women were becoming better educated and getting involved in the government. Starting in 1893, more women were finishing high school as well. By 1900 58.36% of the people who were in school were women.[3] Finally, the feminist movement reached its peak, in 1919 the 19th amendment passed giving women the right to vote.

Aiken grew up through out the entirety of the women’s movement. It is reasonable to say that she was influenced by it. Her early life corresponded with the rise in the women’s movement. And it was around the time that more women started to complete high school, that Aiken moved to Wilson to finish her high school degree. Through out her interview with Stanley Combs for the Federal Writers Project she hinted towards her independence and ability to take care of herself. She never had to rely on anyone but herself to make ends meet.

Political Corruption

The New Deal was the economic plan of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was used to create “Relief, Recovery, and Reform” for those affected by the Great Depression. Even though most people thought of this plan as helpful, because it provided jobs and aid to those in need, some people felt that it was corrupted by governmental officials. According to Aiken society was filled with political rings that would only elect certain people into office. In the book, Politics, Relief, and Reform: Roosevelt's Efforts to Control Corruption and Political Manipulation during the New Deal, it mentioned that in some community governments the community was not run by the people, but by the elite who would only elect certain people into office whose beliefs corresponded with their own. This may have been the case for Aiken’s community. It was reported that communities in the United States had “political machines [that] were often accused of selecting from potential relief recipients on the basis of party or requiting recipients to vote for machine candidates”.[4]

The Federal Writers Project

The Federal Writers Project was a part of the New Deal, created by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its purpose was to employ writers from all over the United States and produce different publications about communities, culture, and the lives of American citizens.[5] Georgia Crockett Aiken, who was a part of this program, was asked to give her life story and explain her belief on different political issues such as women’s rights and the governmental programs. Her interview, by Stanley Combs, was given at her home in Wilson, North Carolina. The interview was written as a speech given by Aiken with a few break points where Combs described her actions. These actions give the reader the idea of the kind of person Aiken is. Throughout the interview she constantly worked to make sure her house was running properly. The Federal Writers Project gave the writers artistic freedom in recording these stories, such as Aiken’s. They could have written them anyway they wanted such as a speech or narrative. The writers could have also included the dialect of the particular person in their paper. Since these life histories were written and perhaps changed by the writer to make a better story, they have to be viewed as possibly flawed.

Notes

  1. Monroe, Walter Scott. Teaching-learning Theory and Teacher Education, 1890 to 1950. New York: Greenwood, 1969. Print.
  2. Davis, Anita P., Dr. "Public Schools in the Great Depression." NCpedia. 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://ncpedia.org/public-schools-great-depression>.
  3. Frost-Knappman, Elizabeth, and Kathryn Cullen-DuPont. Women's Suffrage in America: An Eyewitness History. New York: Facts on File, 1992. Print.
  4. "Politics, Relief, and Reform: Roosevelt's Efforts to Control Corruption and Political Manipulation during the New Deal." Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History. Ed. Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Dale. Goldin. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006.
  5. Hill, Michael. "Federal Writers' Project." NCpedia. 2006. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://ncpedia.org/federal-writers-project>.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Georgia Crockett Aiken, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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