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(A copyrighted publication of West Virginia Archives and History)

Volume 56 Persecution and Acceptance: The Strange History of
Discrimination Against Married Women Teachers in West Virginia

By Robert J. O'Brien

Volume 56 (1997), pp. 56-75

Attitudes toward authority have changed considerably from what they were earlier in the century, but the extent of that change is not always understood. History is concerned with the physical or political conditions of life as well as the ways people think and behave. We may have forgotten the importance of the civil rights changes of the 1950s and 1960s. Rights our grandparents would not have claimed are now taken for granted. It should be remembered that prior to World War II government was more likely to suppress dissident thought than to protect it.

This article might be considered part of a larger study dealing with how abused groups responded to mistreatment in the decade prior to World War II. It shows that despite one brave woman's fight to establish the legal right of married women to be employed as teachers, married women submitted to appalling discrimination in about two-thirds of West Virginia counties.

In 1911 an audacious woman challenged a custom that was accepted in Marshall County and widely throughout the state. After she was reappointed on July 3 to continue as a teacher of music in the schools of Union District, Hallie James married.

On July 22, two days after the marriage, J. F Jameson notified the president of the district board of education that he had married Hallie James. She was promptly notified that married women were not allowed to teach in the Marshall County schools. Ignoring that admonition, during the following school year she reported each day to the schools where she had been assigned to teach. At each school the principal told her she would not be allowed to enter the classroom, and she was given a chair in the hall. Hallie James Jameson took the chair, but she did not take the situation sitting down. In November she sued in magistrate court for her wages. After lengthy litigation the case reached the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on February 24, 1914. The only questions were whether a contract had been formed and whether marriage constituted legal grounds for dismissal. After considering the school board minutes and the statute which specified the grounds for removing a teacher were "incompetency, neglect of duty, intemperance, profanity, cruelty or immorality," the court concluded that a contract had been formed and that Hallie James Jameson's marriage was not grounds for its revocation.1 Regrettably this is not the end of the story. Two years later she was back before the Supreme Court of Appeals in a case arising out of a lower court judgment granting her seven month's wages from the school board. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower court on wages, holding she had only one right of action and was not entitled to wages for the period after she filed suit in November 1911.2 Although she was not financially rewarded for the months she sat in the halls of the schools of Union District, Jameson established the principle that marriage was not an adequate ground for dismissal of a teacher.

Jameson I should have eased the acceptance of married women as teachers, but an examination of the actions of school boards during the first decade of the county board system, the period from 1933 to 1943, shows how little impact it had.3 The story is instructive in regard to the influence of law and the courts upon society and reveals how little impact law has when people fail to insist upon their rights.

Teachers and school administrators should have known marriage was not a ground for dismissal. In The Official Code of West Virginia, published in 1931, the section having to do with appointment of teachers, 18-7-1, ends with the sentence:

Any teacher who enters into a contract with a board of education to teach a public school and who fails to complete the term of such contract, unless prevented from doing so by personal illness or other just cause, or unless released from such contract by the board, or who violates any other lawful provision of such contract, shall be disqualified to teach in any other public school in the State during the term of such contract: Provided, That marriage of a teacher during the term of the contract shall not be considered or deemed a violation or breach of such contract.

With such clear language no school board could henceforth have any doubt about the right of a teacher to remain in the classroom after marriage. Furthermore, in 18-7-6 the Code retained clear language about the process to be used for the dismissal of a teacher:

The board of education of any district or independent district may suspend or dismiss any principal or teacher so appointed for immorality, incompetency, cruelty, insubordination, intemperance or willful neglect of duty, but the charges shall be stated in writing and the teacher shall be given an opportunity to be heard by the board upon not less than ten days' notice, and in all cases when the board is not unanimous in its decisions to suspend or dismiss, the principal or teacher so suspended or dismissed shall have the right of appeal to the state superintendent of schools.

The 1932 Code was published with a new numbering system for the statutes. The section on appointment of teachers was renumbered 1805; the dismissal of teachers became 1810. The language remained the same but was annotated:

Marriage Not Ground for Removal.-Marriage is not covered by the grounds of removal named in this section, and does not constitute in and of itself ground of removal. Jameson v. Board, 74 W. Va. 389, 398, 81 S. E. 1126, L. R. A. 1916C, 795n.

With the clear language of the Code and of the annotation, teachers who married should have realized they were protected from dismissal, and school board members should not have been in doubt about the matter. However, the law was ignored, and for years in many parts of the state, women were persecuted for getting married.

The number of districts which had restrictions against married women as teachers, both before and after Jameson I, is not known. The Union District board of education in Marshall County readily admitted it had merely a custom of not hiring married women as teachers; it had not included that restriction in any written policy or even in the minutes of its meetings.4 That distinction made no difference to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals; the only issue it considered important was whether the ground given for dismissal was allowed by The West Virginia Code. Nevertheless, because custom might never be included in official records and because custom was probably even more important in the hundreds of small school districts West Virginia had prior to 1933 than in the fifty-five county districts it had after that date, the full extent of such policies cannot be known.

In 1933 the state switched from a system in which each magisterial district had a school board to a system of county boards of education. This reduced the number of school boards from 413 to 55.5 The following decade, leading from the depths of the Depression to the middle of World War II, was a period of great social stress. The minutes of the county school boards during that decade show many counties retaining or adopting restrictions against married women and pregnant women as teachers.

Under the former district school system, a large portion of teachers were men.6 Regulations forbade requiring a student to walk more than two miles to school, with the result that in rural counties one-room schools were scattered about every three miles along the roads. As late as 1939-40 Upshur County had seventy-four one-room schools, at least forty-three of which had male teachers.7 As advanced education became more common for women, their numbers increased in the corps of teachers. The social strain produced by this feminization of teaching was exacerbated by the Depression. The status of men as heads of household weakened because work was difficult to find during the Depression. Women who had sought post-secondary education had access to teaching positions and men objected. The result is seen in the debates and policies in the minutes of county school boards.

Independent school districts enacted such policies in spite of Jameson I. In Elkins Independent District in Randolph County:

It was ordered by the Board that all unmarried lady teachers sign the following agreement or resignation for the coming school year before their contract would be accepted and approved by the board:
"To the Board of Education
Elkins Independent District,
Elkins, W. Va.
I hereby tender my resignation to the Board of Education of Elkins Independent District. This resignation to become effective at the time of my marriage, should said marriage occur before June 1, 1932.
(Signed)______________________
Teacher."8

This policy was adopted nine years before the legislature passed the Continuing Contract Act, which determined contracts of employment for teachers remained in full force from year to year unless modified by mutual consent.9 Throughout the 1930s teachers lacked tenure and were hired on an annual contract basis. The Randolph County policy might have been an attempt to get around the Jameson I decision by making the termination point between contracts rather than at the time of the action of the school board which had discovered the marriage. However, until school boards sought the opinion of the state superintendent, which occurred about the same time as the passage of the Continuing Contract Act, there is no evidence that county boards were conscious of Jameson I. When the question was raised, the research was done and the response of State School Superintendent W. W. Trent on July 21, 1941, was clear.

On account of reports of current misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the continuing contract law, I write to advise that continuing contracts may be canceled for those causes and those causes only named in the law: More continuing contracts than the number of teachers needed, immorality, insufficiency, insubordination. The law definitely states that: "Marriage of a teacher shall not be considered a failure to fulfill, or violation of, the contract."10

However, by this time scores if not hundreds of women had been forced out of teaching because they married.11

Evidently, the Jefferson County Board of Education was the first county board to adopt a written policy disadvantaging married women. On July 15, 1933, at its second meeting, the newly formed county board adopted the following resolution:

It is unanimously ordered that the policy of this Board is to give preference to home applicants over out-of-County applicants and unmarried female teachers over married female teachers, when their qualifications and ability are equal; but, the good of the school is the first consideration.12

Interestingly enough, Jefferson County probably had the highest ratio of female-to-male teachers in West Virginia, with 88 of 117 teachers being female, over 75 percent.13

Two weeks later the Tyler County Board adopted an even stronger policy:

Upon motion made by Alden Carse and seconded by L. A. Riggs, be it resolved that we, the Board of Education, County of Tyler, do not employ any married women as teachers and cancel contracts executed by former District Boards of Education with married women.14

The Tyler board provided no rationale for this decision, but discussions of the impact of the Depression and of reduced budgets are common in various county minutes of the period. The Nicholas County Board of Education went so far as to send the legislature a resolution noting "a curtailment of the school system of the State this year, in addition to that of last year, will mean a deterioration of the school system and a permanent injury to the half million children who are attending the public schools."15 These economic pressures were more evident in the policy adopted in Marion County:

On motion of C. L. Kinney properly seconded and unanimously carried it is ordered that contracts shall not be tendered female teachers who have married since the beginning of the 1932-33 school term, and that if necessary to further reduce the number of teachers given contracts by the old boards of education, that the superintendents are hereby authorized to withhold the contracts of one teacher in any and all instances where three or more are members of one family.16

The Morgan County board tried to give recognition to some of the obvious problems with such a policy:

Mr. Ambrose moved and Mr. Weber seconded that no married lady teachers be hired in Morgan County, unless there be a case of a married lady who has a disabled husband, or a lady who has been married, and at present does not live with her husband and is not supported by him.17

In some cases the board issued a caution rather than a policy. Thus, in Preston County,

the secretary was ordered to notify all married women who are employed as teachers this year that in view of the large number of unemployed persons in the county who now hold a certificate of Standard Normal grade or higher, that in future years the Board of Education may give consideration to economic need when the employment of married women and single persons somewhat nearly equal in ability requires a choice between the two.18

Only in Mason County late in the decade was explicit attention given to the changing demographics of the teaching profession. At the annual meeting to determine which teachers would be rehired for the following year, the secretary of the board gave a report in which he recommended that all teachers currently employed be rehired except for five named married women. He then went on to make the following policy recommendations:

In cases where husband and wife have both been employed I recommend that the husband be reemployed. I wish to call your attention to the fact that out of the 204 teachers now employed, 64 are men and 140 are women. Of the 140 women, 72 are married and 68 are single. Our county needs more young men. I recommend the adoption of the policy of encouraging deserving young men to continue in the profession by giving them advancements when their work merits such.19

Surely the most elaborate and bizarre policy was that adopted in Barbour County:

It has become more clear to the Barbour County Board of Education, as it has to all other citizens, that Barbour County is the home of dozens of well qualified, unemployed teachers who are becoming increasingly discouraged, because the future holds only unemployment and consequent disappointment in their chosen field, so long as present conditions continue. Therefore, after due consideration, it is the opinion of the majority of the members of this Board of Education that Barbour County should follow the lead of practically all neighboring counties and eliminate married women from consideration as school teachers. This Board orders. This order shall become immediately effective, and no application shall be accepted from married women for the school year 1940-1941, and succeeding years, save for exceptions hereinafter stated. I.-This resolution does not apply to widows, to whom unemployment would bring unsecurity and discomfort.
II.-This resolution does not apply to married women, whose husbands are rendered unemployable because of permanent injury, provided compensation or insurance for said injury does not provide reasonable security and comfort.
III.-This resolution does not apply to married women whose husbands are unemployable, because of permanent injury, provided compensation or insurance for said injury does not provide reasonable security and comfort.
IV.-This resolution does not apply to married women who have been deserted by their husbands, provided further, unemployment would cause insecurity and discomfort.
V.-This resolution does not apply to divorcees, provided the majority of the members of the Board of Education are convinced that such action was necessary, and provided further that unemployment would cause insecurity and discomfort.
VI.-If there should be a position in the schools of the County, and no unmarried woman or man is eligible for such position, and there is an eligible married woman; then, the position should be given to the married woman before leaving the County for a qualified teacher.20

The policy goes on to specify that women who claim exemption because of desertion or necessary divorce "must appear in person before the Board of Education . . . to explain their reasons for believing their applications should be given consideration." In effect the board of education made itself a divorce review panel. The minutes do not show that any woman chose to justify her divorce before the six men of the school board.

The case of Christine Jackson White demonstrates the process and impact of the dismissal of a married woman. Born in Lewis County in 1910, she graduated from Lewis County High School before attending West Virginia Wesleyan College. Her father William Addison Jackson, who never attended high school, had a particular love of learning and had persuaded his parents to board a subscription teacher so that he could ride behind the teacher when the gentleman travelled to a school some distance from the house. White's mother Sarah Blanche Hall Jackson had been a teacher before her marriage. Her father must have been especially proud of his daughter who returned from college to teach mathematics and history, among other subjects, at Lewis County High School in 1931, then operated by a district board. Two years later the county board system went into effect, and near the end of its first year the Lewis County Board of Education adopted the following policy:

. . . (2) That no married woman will be employed by the Board to teach during the school year 1934-35, and if it is discovered that any lady teacher was married at the time of her appointment or gets married at any time during the school term, her position will immediately be declared vacant.21

Christine Jackson White claims she was not informed of this policy. In May 1935 she was selected to teach for the academic year 1935-36. A month later on June 9 she married Carson White, the son of a local grain dealer.22

About the time she returned from her honeymoon the board acted:

The Board of Education received definite information that Miss Christine Jackson, who was employed at the meeting on May 6th, had since that time been married and upon motion duly made the Board ordered that in accordance with the qualification order made at the meeting on May 6th, the position held by Christine Jackson be declared vacant. Upon motion duly made, the Board appointed to fill the vacancy Howard D. Childers.23

Christine White reports that she was not notified that the board planned to consider this issue and was not personally notified of the actions of the board. She learned she did not have a job when she read in the newspaper the list of teachers hired for the upcoming year. The process required by law, including written notice and an opportunity to be heard by the board, had been totally ignored. It is not surprising that her replacement, Howard Childers, was also married; it is perhaps more surprising that when the school needed a substitute for him, White was called upon-and she agreed on those occasions to return to her classroom. Because she loved to teach, she agreed to substitute for her replacement.

The decision of the Lewis County board was a blow to a number of people. It was a profound disappointment to William Jackson. He had worked to send his daughter to the high school that had not been available to him. He had worked to send her through college, an achievement he never had an opportunity to dream of for himself. He had seen her return to her home county as a high school teacher and had the additional satisfaction of seeing her married to the son of a man with whom he had frequent dealings. Then the Lewis County Board of Education took away the blossoming product of his efforts. It was also a blow to the young couple, who had planned on two incomes. Carson White had gone to business school, but with the dismissal of his wife he had to devote all of his energy to supporting his family and give up any hope of further education.

Subsequently, Christine Jackson White learned that another woman teaching in the Lewis County schools was rumored to have been secretly married, but since the Whites were well known in the county, attempting to hide their marriage would have been useless, even if they had known of the policy. As a matter of fact, the 1934-35 policy adopted by the Lewis County Board of Education is not recorded in the minutes for the 1935-36 school year. Even if it had been adopted it was clearly in violation of statute law and the Jameson I ruling. Nevertheless, when asked whether she ever considered seeking a lawyer and suing the Lewis board, she answered, "No. I didn't know that I could. That was policy."

Even when such policies were not directly challenged, it is not surprising that some women sought to evade their enforcement. Stories abound of couples who kept their marriages secret, even maintaining separate residences, and school boards countered these tactics. Doddridge, Monongalia, and Wirt counties adopted policies similar to that of Braxton, invalidating contracts with women who were married but signed their contracts with their maiden names:

The superintendent further stated that cases had occurred wherein married application using their maiden name. He made reference to a letter to teachers when application blanks were mailed, in which letter they were supposed to use their correct name. . . . The following recommendations were made; 1. That teachers who are married at the time they apply for a position and make application in their maiden name, be replaced by the Board before the opening of school. . . .24

The minutes of the boards of education of Braxton and Wirt counties do not reveal any other suggestion that married women were not accepted as teachers; the implication of these maiden name policies is an unwritten policy against hiring married women as teachers.

School boards did enforce these policies. In July 1935, two months after teachers for the following year were named, the Marion County board voted that five teachers "be removed from the active teacher list and that contracts not be issued to them due to the marriage of these teachers since their names were published in local papers."25 Four years later, a Miss Helen Wells submitted a written resignation after the board discovered she was married when she signed her contract, and eight other named women were ordered "dropped from the active list of teachers" because they were married.26 Similarly, at the June 1939 meeting of the Harrison County board, a resolution was adopted specifying that "contracts shall not be awarded to Miss Virginia Downs, Miss Betty Kimberling, Miss Lora Carder, Miss Lillian Ash, and Miss Eleanor June Harner, and all others who applied and were appointed by the Board of Education as single women."27 Rather than attempting to hide a marriage, the more common practice is probably indicated in the minutes of the Jefferson County Board of Education: "The Board was informed that Miss May Francis Morison had withdrawn her application because of her marriage which will take place sometime this summer."28

Other counties limited women's access to teaching positions while they were pregnant or while their children were young. In 1938 the Upshur County Board of Education adopted a policy against hiring "newly married women as teachers,"29 but two years later it became more specific:

It shall be the policy of the Upshur County Board of Education not to employ any married woman teacher who has a child of her own or a child in her custody whose age is less than the minimum school age.
Further, the Upshur County Board of Education considers the following as constituting a serious handicap to efficient teaching and hereby serves notice that said handicap (or handicaps) shall constitute a just and legal reason for the dismissal of any woman teacher from the services of the Upshur Board of Education:
  1. Pregnancy
  2. Mother, custodian, or legal guardian of any child who has not yet reached the minimum legal school age.30

The struggle within a school board on this issue is revealed with unusual clarity in minutes of the Logan board. Shortly before teachers were to be named for the 1939-40 school year the board adopted by unanimous vote a resolution which reads in part:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
FIRST That no teacher will be employed, who at the time of entering into the discharge of her duties, has a child living less than one year of age.
SECOND That no teacher in a condition of pregnancy shall be permitted to teach in our schools. Any teacher giving false or misleading information, in order to secure a position or to continue teaching, will not be given consideration for a position thereafter.31

A few weeks later the board reconsidered its action:

R. L. Shelton made a motion for the Board to rescind its former ruling in the hiring of future teachers with babies less than a year old, stating in some cases it was all a family had to live on, and was not fair to the teachers.32

This resolution passed by a vote of three to two. However, without any further consideration evidenced in the minutes, the restriction was retained, and two years later the minutes show the requirement that "for women teachers it is essential that the youngest child be at least one year of age."33 A long struggle with such policies is also evident in Mason County. In 1936 the board adopted a resolution that the "rule against hiring teachers with children under three years of age was amended to read 'two years'"; the three-year policy has not been found.34 Although this resolution is seemingly gender neutral, that it was meant to apply only to women is made clear in the policy adopted four years later: "it was ordered that the board not sign a contract with any lady teacher who has a child under one year of age."35

The explanations for pregnancy policies as well as rules about when they would go into effect differed from county to county. The Jackson County policy reads as follows:

That in order to prevent public criticism caused by women teachers, the Board passed the following resolution: That any woman teacher under contract who become pregnant should submit a request for a leave of absence extending from the fourth month of pregnancy to six months after the birth of the child.36

Boone County used a different rationale and applied a different schedule:

Resolved, that it is the sense of this Board that pregnancy interferes with a teacher's work, and that teachers under contract who are now pregnant or who may become pregnant during the term should resign their positions; and be it ordered that any teacher who continues teaching more than two months after becoming pregnant shall be considered ineligible for employment the following year.37

On the analysis provided in the Jameson I case, all pregnancy policies allowing the dismissal of a woman during the contract were illegal. Pregnancy by itself did not constitute any of the seven grounds statutorily provided for dismissal: "immorality, incompetency, cruelty, insubordination, intemperance, profanity or willful neglect of duty." However, recognizing the demands from some counties for pregnancy policies, on January 9-10, 1942, the State Board of Education adopted the following:

Resolution on Absence of Teachers Pending, and Following Childbirth WHEREAS, it has been brought to the attention of the State Board of Education, that many pregnant women teachers have continued in the schoolroom longer than is acceptable to many communities; and,
WHEREAS, many women teachers in such conditions are unable because of physical stresses and strains, and the accompanying mental conditions to maintain the high standard of teaching efficiency: and,
WHEREAS, such expectant mothers, for the welfare of the unborn child, should have quiet and rest for a period of time preceding and following childbirth;
Therefore be it RESOLVED, that the State Board of education designates four (4) months as a minimum absence from teaching, prior to childbirth, and seven (7) weeks as a minimum absence from teaching following childbirth; provided, however, that refusal to comply with this resolution shall be regarded as an act of insubordination, and shall be dealt with accordingly.
On motion of Thelma B. Loudin, seconded by Raymond Brewster that the foregoing motion be received, entered upon the records and made the order of the Board, the motion passed.38

The State Board of Education was probably acting illegally when it adopted this policy. Jameson I made clear that the statutory list of justifications could not be extended by the local board of education, and there is no reason to believe that the state board could do so either. It was illegal if it was meant to require the immediate dismissal of the woman who did not comply with the policy.39 It was also illegal under the Continuing Contract Act if it was meant to allow the denial of a new contract to a pregnant teacher or a new mother. However, there is no record of another Hallie James Jameson going to court to challenge this policy.

Closely related to policies on mothers of young children were the policies on numbers of teachers in a family. Roane County first explicitly adopted such a policy in 1935: "In establishing policies for employment of teachers for the coming term the Board voted to not employ both man and wife from the same family."40 It then adopted the same policy with almost no change in each of the next two years, but it did not include the policy in subsequent minutes.41 Does this absence from later minutes mean that the board no longer followed that policy? Probably not. It is rare for a school board to rescind a policy. Because policies were not collected in a document separate from the meeting minutes, they were more likely to be forgotten than consciously changed. Nothing is clearer than that policies were enforced that were not voted on and recorded in the minutes. The minutes of the Nicholas County Board of Education do not show the board adopting a policy on numbers of teachers in a family; indeed, they show the board refusing to adopt such a policy in 1936.42 However, five years later a letter from Mrs. Grace Creasy to the board shows such a policy was in effect:

In view of the fact that the Board has followed a policy of not employing both husband and wife, I wish to submit my resignation effective at the end of this school term. I appreciate what you and the Board have done for me and ask that you express my appreciation to each member.43

The timing of this letter is particularly important. Creasy's letter was dated March 24, 1941, after the passage of the Continuing Contract Act and four months before Superintendent Trent's letter in which he emphasized that marriage did not constitute grounds for denial of a contract.44 As the country prepared for war and the draft was being discussed, the school board minutes do not mention an oversupply of teachers. The economic justification for the numbers-of-teachers-in-a-family policies no longer existed. Yet Creasy was willing to abide by a policy which was unwritten, unnecessary, and illegal, and while submitting to this discrimination, she expressed her appreciation to the board members.

It is certain that the policies against hiring spouses meant that the woman gave up teaching, but other policies on numbers of teachers from one family had a less certain effect upon women. For instance, the Lewis County Board of Education adopted the following resolution: "the Board unanimously ordered that when teachers are employed only one unmarried teacher shall be employed from any one family."45 The possibility that the district boards were less restrictive on women teachers and the importance of the Depression are indicated by a policy adopted in Marion County: "if necessary to further reduce the number of teachers given contracts by the old boards of education . . . the superintendents are hereby authorized to withhold the contracts of one teacher in any and all instances where three or more are members of one family."46 It has not been determined who lost jobs as a result of these policies.

Most boards did little or no legal research before adopting policies regarding marriage, pregnancy, and numbers of teachers in a family. An exception is found in a resolution adopted in Pleasants County: "The Sup't was instructed to look up the legality of marriage clauses in teachers contracts."47 No mention of such clauses appears in subsequent minutes. In Monongalia County the board asked the county superintendent to write to the state superintendent about the status of teachers who had married prior to the issuance of contracts; the board subsequently restricted its policy to denial of a new contract to newly married women.48 The Berkeley County board seems to have been unusually conscientious; it evidently had some research done and included in its minutes that "law states that unless teacher's contract specifically states that teacher is to be dismissed if she marries during school term, Board cannot lawfully do so." This is surely a misstatement of the law because the board did not have the right to include such a provision in contracts. However, regardless of the representation of the law, the board adopted a policy that "any teacher getting married during the school term present her resignation."49 By 1940 this issue gained newspaper coverage. The Clarksburg Exponent noted that "the [teacher's] contract specifically declares that marriage of a teacher 'shall not be considered a failure to fulfill a contract, or to be a violation thereof'."50

By 1942 school board minutes include no more complaints about a surplus of qualified teachers, and letters of resignation to accept better jobs or seeking leaves of absence during military service are commonplace. Policies restricting the hiring of married women as teachers still have not been rescinded, but they seem to have become unenforced and forgotten. Policies requiring the resignation of pregnant teachers seem to have been enforced well into the 1960s.51

An important postscript to the history of discrimination against married women was provided when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It forbade discrimination on the basis of sex, thus exposing school board members to federal penalties for either dismissing women who married or refusing to hire them. Moreover, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended the earlier act to specify that the prohibition of discrimination "on the basis of sex" must include discrimination on "the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions."52 The practice of requiring pregnant teachers to resign evidently had died out in the public schools of West Virginia by that time, and the addition of federal law assured its burial.

Although the policies disadvantaging married women vary in form, they seem to share a common motive, to force women into a domestic role and to limit their participation in the employed work force. One can accept claims that many teachers were unemployed through most of the 1930s, but that does not argue a newly married woman should be discharged in favor of a married man. Obviously Christine and Carson White-and many others-had a different vision of how to coordinate the domestic and economic parts of family life. But those who did not share that vision of the role of women were allowed to impose their wills upon such upstarts.

The endurance in the majority of counties of such discrimination against married women was due largely to the willingness of people in those counties to accept it. An insistence on ending such abuse would have been supported both by statute law and the Jameson I decision. It is unlikely that the legislature would have passed a bill condoning such mistreatment of women; the most populous counties-Kanawha, Cabell, Wood, and Ohio-seem not to have adopted either marriage or pregnancy policies. Given what happened in the three decades after the dismissal of Hallie James Jameson, her courage and fortitude become even more impressive. However, the lesson of Jameson I was lost. Statute law and a favorable legal precedent are of little or no value if people are not willing to undergo the ordeal of litigation to protect their rights by appealing to that precedent-or by merely insisting that their intuitively recognized rights be acknowledged by the courts. It is shocking to note that twenty years after the Jameson I decision from the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Marshall County Board of Education voted that a "marriage clause be written in the contracts of female teachers."53 In her home county Hallie James Jameson and her lesson were forgotten.

A consideration of the geographical and chronological distribution of policies discriminating against married women as teachers leaves a variety of questions and only a few answers. We must still wonder about how widely distributed were such policies before 1933, but that question would require an examination of hundreds of handwritten minute books, many of which are now lost. The fact that such policies may not exist in some of these books would not be conclusive, for such policies were enforced even when they were not included in the minutes. Some counties never adopted such discriminatory policies. This group included comparatively urbanized counties such as Cabell and Kanawha, as well as very rural counties such as Mingo and Pleasants. The task of teasing out answers to these questions is left to other scholars.

We must also wonder about the institutions which might have worked to end such discrimination. We now have general purpose civil liberties organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which we expect to step in and protest such abuses, but in the 1930s the ACLU was not a membership organization and had little impact in West Virginia. Besides, discrimination against married women was not recognized as a civil liberties issue prior to World War II. A more puzzling matter is the failure of teachers' associations. The minute books show that teachers got a day off each year to attend meetings of the West Virginia Teachers Association. What happened at those meetings? Why did not the teachers in Kanawha and Cabell counties tell their sisters across the state that the law protected them against dismissal for being married? The failure of teachers' organizations is puzzling and troubling.

But when we consider all of these questions one fact remains clear. In the twenty-five years following Jameson v. Board of Education , Union District there is not a trace of another woman doing what Hallie James Jameson did. Of the many women who suffered the same abuse that Hallie James Jameson suffered, not one of them took the step of going to court to protect her own rights and the rights of other women. Hallie James Jameson had given them protection, which they failed to use. Without the support of a professional or a civil rights organization, without the support of a politicized community, such as that in Kanawha County, without a legal precedent to lean on, Hallie James Jameson demonstrated what it means to be a majority of one. She demonstrated that all of these organizations and institutions can provide support and encouragement, but they cannot remove the need for one essential quality-moral courage.


Notes
1. West Virginia Code (Hogg 1913), chap. 45, 2099; and Jameson v. Board of Education , Union District, 74 W. Va. 389 (1914), hereafter referred to as Jameson I.

2. Jameson v. Board of Education , 78 W. Va. 612 (1916).

3. Figure A graphically reveals the distribution of the various kinds of policies across the state. Figure B shows the development over time of the various kinds of policies by county.

4. Jameson I, 390-91.

5. 200 Years of Public Education in West Virginia: A Bicentennial Account of the Public Schools (Charleston: West Virginia Department of Education, 1976), 6. Another account claims 398 districts prior to consolidation. Charles H. Ambler, A History of Education in West Virginia (Huntington: Standard Printing and Publishing, 1951), 610. A different total is provided in Paul D. Casdorph, "Legislative Politics and the Public Schools in West Virginia, 1933-1958" (Ed.D. diss., 1970). However, the exact count is not important to this study.

6. A Martinsburg editorial noted that nationally "in 1870 there were two male teachers to every three women. This year, women outnumber men by more than three to one." Martinsburg Evening Journal , 3 September 1940.

7. Minutes of the Upshur County Board of Education, 3 May 1939. All minutes cited are located at county board offices.

8. Minutes of the Board of Education of Elkins Independent District, 6 May 1931.

9. Ambler, History of Education in West Virginia , 622.

10. 35th Biennial Report, 1940-1942, July 1, 1940 to June 30, 1942 of the State Superintendent of Free Schools of the State of West Virginia (Charleston: Jarrett Printing Co., 1942), 35-36.

11. In this paper are the names of ten women who lost their teaching jobs because they married. At least twenty counties had policies explicitly against married women as teachers; see figures A and B. At least sixteen counties had policies regarding the use of maiden names on applications, on pregnancy, on the age of a woman teacher's children, or on numbers of teachers in a family. The county school board policies were adopted as early as 1933 and were never rescinded. The state superintendent of schools announced the illegality of married women policies in 1941. If only two women in each county with a discriminatory policy gave up teaching or were fired because of marriage, the term scores would be justified. Firings were rare, but these minute books contain large numbers of letters of resignation. The women who resigned rarely gave the reason for their resignations. It is not extravagant to suspect that some of these women resigned because they had married and they hoped to remain on the good side of the local board of education.

12. Minutes of the Jefferson County Board of Education, 15 July 1933.

13. Ibid., 28 October 1933.

14. Minutes of the Tyler County Board of Education, 31 July 1933.

15. Minutes of the Nicholas County Board of Education, 1 November 1933.

16. Minutes of the Marion County Board of Education, 8 August 1933.

17. Minutes of the Morgan County Board of Education, 7 May 1934.

18. Minutes of the Preston County Board of Education, 10 May 1939.

19. Minutes of the Mason County Board of Education, 1 May 1939.

20. Minutes of the Barbour County Board of Education, 7 June 1939. From time to time the spelling and grammar of the school board minutes are somewhat garbled; the original spelling and sentence structure are retained without comment. Clearly, these school board records deserve the interest of the historian of language as well as of social and legal historians. 21. Minutes of the Lewis County Board of Education, 7 May 1934.

22. Christine Jackson White, interviewed by the author, Jane Lew, WV, 24 May 1996. The entire account of White's experience is derived from this interview.

23. Minutes of the Lewis County Board of Education, 18 June 1935.

24. Minutes of the Braxton County Board of Education, 1 May 1939. The passage should probably read: "The superintendent further stated that cases had occurred wherein married women filed applications using their maiden names."

25. Minutes of the Marion County Board of Education, 15 July 1935.

26. Ibid., 16 October 1939.

27. Minutes of the Harrison County Board of Education, June 1939.

28. Minutes of the Jefferson County Board of Education, 11 May 1937.

29. Minutes of the Upshur County Board of Education, 2 May 1938.

30. Ibid ., 16 May 1940.

31. Minutes of the Logan County Board of Education, 24 April 1939.

32. Minutes of the Logan County Board of Education, 3 July 1939.

33. Ibid., 28 March 1941.

34. Minutes of the Mason County Board of Education, 4 May 1936.

35. Ibid., 20 September 1940.

36. Minutes of the Jackson County Board of Education, 20 August 1940.

37. Minutes of the Boone County Board of Education, 6 June 1939.

38. Record of Proceedings, 1 July 1940-30 June 1942, 322, West Virginia State Board of Education Collection, West Virginia State Archives, Charleston, WV.

39. See Minutes of the Monongalia County Board of Education, 19 May 1942.

40. Minutes of the Roane County Board of Education, 6 April 1935.

41. Ibid., 4 April 1936 and 10 April 1937.

42. Minutes of the Nicholas County Board of Education, 4 May 1936.

43. Ibid., 29 March 1941.

44. Ambler, History of Education in West Virginia, 622.

45. Minutes of the Lewis County Board of Education, 16 April 1938.

46. Minutes of the Marion County Board of Education, 8 August 1933.

47. Minutes of the Pleasants County Board of Education, 14 April 1936.

48. Minutes of the Monongalia County Board of Education, 6 and 20 August 1940.

49. Minutes of the Berkeley County Board of Education, 12 October 1935.

50. Clarksburg Exponent, 26 April 1940.

51. While doing the research for this paper, the author met a number of women who resigned from teaching posts because of pregnancy and men whose wives resigned. Without exception they expressed some chagrin that they had acquiesced to such discrimination. The secretary of one superintendent remarked that the only thing she remembered of third grade was that her favorite teacher, whose name she remembered, had to be replaced because she was pregnant; the secretary did not remember the name of the replacement teacher. The truant officer of another county related the same experience; he named the teacher who was forced to resign because of pregnancy and acknowledged that he did not remember the name of her replacement. 52. U.S. Code, vol. 42, 2000e(k).

53. Minutes of the Marshall County Board of Education, 1 May 1934.


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