In 2008 I conceived an oral history project that would capture the stories of activists who had worked for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in Oklahoma. Given the significance of the ERA campaign, not only to the state’s history but also that of the nation, it was extremely important that this history not be lost. Receiving the support of Jill Irvine, Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma, I was joined by Julie Stidolph, a Ph.D. student in history and Hudson Fellow, as co-investigator for the project. I am grateful for support received from both the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.
For several years, Julie and I traveled the state interviewing ERA activists, and we worked with assistants to turn these interviews into transcripts and videos which would be of use to historians, university faculty and students, and interested citizens. Our adventures included becoming part of an activist reunion in Bartlesville and getting lost in a morass of highway construction in Tulsa, among many others. Wherever we went, we were met with great warmth and enthusiasm for our project. It was an absolute delight to meet the narrators and hear their stories, which reflected their ingenuity, hard work and commitment. Many also shared the life experiences which led them to become feminists and activists for women’s rights. Since I also became a feminist during the height of the modern women’s movement of the 1960s and 70s, meeting and interviewing them was particularly gratifying to me.
It is with a great deal of gratitude for their contributions as activists as well as for their generous participation in this project that I dedicate the collected interviews to the “Red Dirt Women” of the Oklahoma Equal Rights Amendment campaign.
Associate Professor Emerita of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Oklahoma
Project Director, “Red Dirt Women: A Video/Oral History of Activists in Oklahoma’s Campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment”