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Ethel Evans Goven, Gen Flanagan, and Gloria Laughlin Oral History


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Biographical Information:

Ethel Goven was born near New Ulm Minnesota on September 22, 1897, and moved to St. Cloud with her husband John in 1924, where she resided for the next 59 years. Gen Flanagan was born in Minneapolis in June 1914, and came to St. Cloud in 1942 with her husband who was a serviceman killed during World War II. Gloria Laughlin, alongside Goven and Flanagan, was a member of St. Cloud’s Reading Room Society, and later became president of the organization.

Transcript Summary: In two interviews conducted on March 3 and May 1, 1984, Ethel Goven, Gen Flanagan, and Gloria Laughlin spoke about their lives in St. Cloud and their time as members of St. Cloud’s Reading Room Society. Goven, Flanagan, and Laughlin said that the Reading Room Society was the oldest club for women in Minnesota’s history, as it existed for 119 years at the time of the interview. They asserted that the organization was the “epitome of social life in St. Cloud,” and that aside from holding regular meetings with its core of 55 “active” and additional, typically older “life members,” it also frequently hosted events like dinners and ballroom socials. Additionally, Goven, Flanagan, and Laughlin mentioned that the group maintained close ties with a multitude of other local institutions, such as the St. Cloud Public Library and St. Cloud State University, and that the latter’s President Isabel Lawrence and Dr. Philip Halenbeck were closely associated with the Reading Room Society, among other prominent individuals.

Interview conducted by Cal Gower


Image ID: 16069

See additional files below for full transcript.

16069_transcript.pdf (161 kB)
Goven, Flanagan, and Laughlin oral history transcript

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