Oral History

Video clip from an oral history interview with Mary Ellen Avery

This oral history interview, recorded in 1982, reveals Avery's response to a question about how she has coped with challenges, and what people could learn from her life "in a total way," rather than just looking at the climb of her career.

"Hanging in there is key, I think. Knowing what you want to do and not being easily discouraged is key, particularly in research. You know, you're always moving into the unknown, and you can spend months trying to prove something, only to find that you made some terrible mistakes and you have to be willing to say, ‘six months of my life and my hard work went down the drain,’ and you have to start over. That's terrible discouragement, and you can either quit or you can say, ‘I will start over.’ If the question is worth pursuing, it's probably worth continuing to pursue. The question of when to hang in with  persistence, and perseverance, and hard work, and when to quit, to change course, of course, is a complicated decision, but I think that in the area of scholarly activities one must have an enormous amount of perseverance – and that, that's key."

For a full transcript of this oral history, please click here.