One Hundred Years of Stuff: A Biographical Sketch of Louise S. Hartin

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Title: One Hundred Years of Stuff: A Biographical Sketch of Louise S. Hartin
Author: Rhame, Mary Elizabeth
Advisors: Carmine Prioli, Committee Member
Lucinda MacKethan, Committee Member
Elaine Orr, Committee Chair
Abstract: While a student in the Master's of English program at North Carolina State University, I have developed a particular fondness for the telling of one's American experience through memoir. Books such as Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings, Richard Wright's Black Boy, and Virginia Holman's Saving Patty Hearst, coupled with my own fascination with recent American history, oral history, the struggle for civil rights for various groups, and research, inspired me to begin my own creative nonfiction essays with my great-grandmother, the late Louise S. Hartin, as my central character. Oral history has always been important in my family. We tell and retell stories, some of them rather extraordinary, some of family members who have passed on and some about those of us who are still around. I've always been a writer, and in the past decade a journalist. For those of us who describe ourselves this way, I think it is our responsibility to listen to the stories of others and preserve them. I consider it my personal responsibility to make official recordation of family stories involving my great-grandmother. I will use my thesis as a vehicle to combine a conglomeration of materials found through research, family stories, and personal interviews into one narrative with Louise Hartin at its center. Chapter Outline Below is a list of proposed chapters with a brief explanation of each. Chapter One This chapter will serve to introduce the reader to Louise, my central character. I will introduce her by describing her experience waiting out Hurricane Hugo alone in her home, and the attention she commanded the morning after the storm. I also begin establishing my own credibility as the author and as Louise's great-granddaughter. Chapter Two Here I describe in detail the house in which Louise lived over sixty years, and all the changes that occurred in the neighborhood surrounding the house. I begin to give the reader a sense of the town, Sumter. I talk about our relationship and what we did when we were together. I further introduce Louise as a character, and include her setting: Sumter, South Carolina, and more specifically, the house she occupied for more than half her life. Chapter Three The focus of this chapter is Louise's church, Trinity United Methodist Church. I detail its importance in her life and describe the scene where she went to it as firefighters were extinguishing the blaze that gutted the sanctuary. I use her to tell the story of the church's rebuilding. Chapter Four I give historical context to Sumter in the 1960s by describing pertinent historical events in the region. I discuss South Carolina politics and Senator Strom Thurmond. I discuss the segregated social system that went through major changes during the Civil Rights Movement. Chapter Five Here I show how Sumter integrated the town. First, the hospital. Second, the military base. And, third, the public schools. Chapter Six Here are profiles of Dorothy and Alice, Louise's maids for about forty years. I ponder the life of a black domestic worker. Chapter Seven This chapter profiles Efred, Louise's yard man. Chapter Eight This chapter details two specific civil rights strides in Sumter, lunch counter and church sit-ins. Chapter Nine Finally, I discuss her death, the circumstances leading up to it, and my place in it all. Epilogue A wrap-up of all that has appeared before, and I use it as a place for me to record my final thoughts about Louise's life and/or the project.
Date: 2006-12-08
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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