"Motherlogues," the dramatic reading that follows, is drawn from some 200 tape recorded interviews of mothers by women's studies students at Jersey City State College. In 1979, with a generous grant from The New Jersey Department of Higher Education, Office of Separately Budgeted Research, we launched a two year project entitled "Mothers and Daughters: The Changing Lives of Ethnic Women." Using students as paid researchers, we began exploring the responses of their mothers (ages 40-60) to questions about education, marriage, motherhood, homemaking and employment.
We wanted to find out how a generation of working class and lower middle class women from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds had changed—in attitudes, values and expectations—over the past twenty years. We were curious about our subjects' mothers' lives. Did they regard their mothers as models? For what notion of womanhood had their mothers prepared them? We were also interested in learning how these mothers viewed their daughters' lives and whether the experiences of the younger generation had had an impact on the outlook and behavior of the older.
The interview, our basic research instrument, grew out of a unit in a "Women's Lives" syllabus ("Women's Lives" is the introductory course in women's studies) which has been in effect since 1974. It is reprinted in full at the end.