Duty and "Fast Living": The Diary of Mary Johnson Sprow, Domestic Worker
In the fall of 1979 my great-aunt Mary Johnson Sprow found a diary she had written while working as a domestic servant more than 60 years before. For more than seven years I had conducted interviews with her, her three other siblings, and their spouses; finally, I would touch the paper on which she so tenderly placed her thoughts as a young live-in servant from rural Virginia. The diary and oral history interviews helped me flesh out the history of young women who migrated to Washington from the rural South before and during the "Great Migration." This research became the underpinning of my University of Maryland dissertation and articles on African-American migration to Washington during the period 1900 to 1940.