The author also provides meticulous and at time relentless physical descriptions of the interviewees, the settings in which the interview took place, and even the weather conditions that prevailed during the interview. While the inclusion of this material can satisfy the reader's natural curiosity about the subjects, the numerous descriptions of skin and eye color, body type, and clothing became superfluous. Chapter seven, "Knowin' What I Know Today" (173-194), described by the author as a "series of vignettes" (6) in which "a select group of women flesh out their lives in detail" seems misplaced and at times confusing. The descriptive, impressionistic material in this chapter could, perhaps, be better incorporated into other chapters.

The author's approach to collecting oral histories shows a great deal of methodological flexibility and adaptability. The interviews often took place in crowded homes, during social gatherings, or while children were vying for the attention of the interviewee. While she utilized "a formal questionnaire for the interviews" covering the "technical and factual questions" that are important for "scholars interested in quantitative detail on women and work," the migrants themselves "wanted to communicate many of their feelings about the extraordinary transformations they experienced as women and workers central to the Great Migration story" (203, note 3). I think [this ]is the great strength of the book. These oral histories provide us with a bridge to the past experiences of elderly African American women whose stories need to be remembered and told.


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November 2000