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Rusk 7Q, Dean Rusk autobiographical sketch, Part 3, circa 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:14 - Overview of life in Cherokee County

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Partial Transcript: This has to do with the kind of life that was lived in Cherokee County in the first decade of this century.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk states that North Georgia was underdeveloped compared to other Southern states during his childhood. He talks about life before antibiotics, regular mail delivery, and running water, but mentions that his family had a telephone system. Rusk talks about the importance of religion and community cooperation in Cherokee County. He discusses working to grow food and make necessities by hand, rather than buying goods.

Keywords: Christianity; calomel; disease; education; farming; health; literacy; medicine; reading

00:09:28 - Rusk's father / Lack of government services in Cherokee County / Family dynamics

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Partial Transcript: The very fact that earning a living out of those red clay hills was tough, tended to make rather stern people out of all the Rusk family up there.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about visiting family members, and mentions the lack of record-keeping by the Cherokee County courthouse as well as attitudes toward strangers and black people. Rusk talks about his family farm, transportation infrastructure, the lack of automobiles, and his family dynamics.

Keywords: African American; Reconstruction; Roswell; Woodstock; cars; documentation; parents; race; racial dynamic

00:16:35 - Rusk's family home and property

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Partial Transcript: How did you maintain a sense of privacy as a family in a two or three room small farmhouse?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about his family home, where there was a small fire. He says it was one of the first houses in the area to have glass windows. Rusk talks about reading by firelight and playing spelling and geography games. He talks about moving to Atlanta, mentioning his love for the sorghum syrup his family made. Rusk discusses his grandfathers and the Reconstruction period, as well as the farmland his extended family owned.

Keywords: Civil War; North Georgia; agriculture; canning; farming; food; gardening; slavery

00:28:15 - Rusk's mother / School days / West End culture

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Partial Transcript: My mother was Elizabeth Frances Clotfelter.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about his mother and her influence on his schooling. He describes his classmates from the Lee Street School and talks about the avoidance of vice and the focus on cleanliness from the children and adults at West End Presbyterian Church. Rusk mentions that his brother Parks Rusk reconstructed their great-grandfather's log cabin.

Keywords: Davidson College; Elizabeth Frances Clotfelter; Joe Clotfelter; Rockdale County; brother; education; parents; school; siblings

00:38:20 - Crime and vice / White supremacist groups / Agriculture in Cherokee County

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Partial Transcript: Although Cherokee County is not all that far away from Atlanta, we were still far enough up into the foothills so that there was some of the feuding tradition still existing.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk tells an anecdote about a feud in which his uncle killed a boy. He says that crime and drinking were uncommon, and he recounts the story of his first drink. Rusk recalls how he accidentally became a bootlegger for the white supremacist group Knights of the Mystic Kingdom. Rusk talks about agricultural and economic practices in Cherokee County and explains why the area did not have slaves.

Keywords: KKK; Ku Klux Klan; North Georgia; Roswell, GA; Woodstock, GA; alcohol; barter; boll weevil; cotton; crops; freeholders; race

00:45:23 - Development in Cherokee County / A&M education

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Partial Transcript: --through much of the South by combination of education, public health, and steadily increasing productivity.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about public health and educational campaigns in Cherokee County, mentioning the school's agricultural schedule and lack of standards. Rusks explains the impact of roads, personal automobiles, school buses, and electricity on North Georgia. He talks about farmers becoming industrial commuters, the establishment of agriculture-mechanical colleges, helpful Department of Agriculture county agents, and his county's production of chicken and timber.

Keywords: A&M; Abraham Lincoln; TVA; power; productivity

00:55:00 - Character development / Self-sufficiency

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Partial Transcript: What influence did all these changes have--

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about the importance of a strong work ethic and growing up in a "wholesome atmosphere." He explains how he obtained coal throughout a shortage during his childhood, noting that government officials did not get upset with what might be considered juvenile delinquency. Rusk also emphasizes economic and emotional independence.

Keywords: childhood; community

01:02:14 - Prejudice and integration

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Partial Transcript: You've spoken of some of the good characteristics of the people back in that world.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses prejudice toward Catholics and race relations between black and white residents of West End. Rusk credits his education and childhood proximity to a black neighborhood for his racial tolerance. He explains that in the South, there are more personal relationships between people of different races, although there is more prejudice at the group level. Rusk talks about his daughter Peggy's interracial marriage.

Keywords: Guy Smith; Jim Crow; Margaret Elizabeth Rusk; Whitehall Street; segregation

01:13:04 - Dean Rusk Elementary School / Early interest in international affairs

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Partial Transcript: This is a little comment that won't amount to very much, but the city of Atlanta tore down the old Lee Street School.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about his visits to Dean Rusk Elementary School. He explains that his interest in international affairs came from reading Carpenter's Geographical Readers (mass produced books on geography at the time) and from missionaries. Rusk recalls World War I, mentioning West End's Candler warehouse, where German prisoners were kept. He talks about his support for the League of Nations despite the prevailing U.S. sense of isolationism and focus on domestic politics. Rusk discusses Georgia's time as a Democratic state and talks about working for the law office of Augustus Roan.

Keywords: WWI; geography; school

01:23:33 - Playing basketball / Attending religious colleges

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Partial Transcript: During that period I spent a great deal of time in the YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association] practicing basketball.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about practicing basketball at the YMCA and playing on the team at Davidson College, where he notes a moral dilemma with regard to intentional fouling. He speaks further about his time at Davidson, a Presbyterian-founded school. He mentions that dances, bridge, and drinking were prohibited, and daily chapel attendance was compulsory. Rusk mentions that he was exempt from compulsory chapel at St. John's college at Oxford because as a Presbyterian, he was not "particularly welcome" in the Church of England.

Keywords: Christianity; education; school; sports; university