Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Ambassador Theresa A. Tull
TULL: Unfortunately, not as much. Mother was born in Philadelphia in 1897. My mother was very clearly Irish on her mother's side; her mother was Elizabeth McDonald. Her father, Charles Paull, was of German descent. Mother told me that her grandparents who would be my great grandparents, on both sides of her family were born in the United States which would have them coming to the United States maybe in the 1840s pr 1850s. She told me that her Irish grandmother had been a maid when she came over to the States as a young teenager. We have a family bible from the German side of the family that goes back to about 1865 showing births in the U.S., but earlier than that we don't know. We don't know what part of Germany or Ireland either one of our maternal ancestors came from. We suspect that the Germans may have fled revolutionary turmoil in the 1848 period, and that the Irish potato famine likely contributed to the immigration of the Irish. My mother's father, my grandfather, was a mason and initially a bricklayer. Then he got a better job at the Philadelphia Mint, the U.S. Mint, and they had a reasonable life on that salary. They had 14 children. Mother was the youngest. We have family portraits of everybody and they looked so proper and nice.
My grandfather died when my mother was in her first year of high school. Her mother took her out of high school and put her in Peirce Business College for one year. While she was in the business college she got a job offer. She had to go out and work to help her family. There she met my father. Her mother met my father and thought him a very nice man, but she was concerned about the religious differences. Dad was a non-practicing Methodist, and Mom's family were all devout Catholics. Unfortunately, my grandmother died in the flu epidemic of 1918. My mother's parents were both dead before she married so I never knew my grandparents on that side of the family.
Q: Well, then your mother was working when she met your father?
TULL: Yes, she was a secretary. She worked briefly for General Electric Company and she told me a story which showed she had a lot of spunk. She was working for GE and she was considered for a promotion and somehow her boss found out she was Catholic and told her, oh dear, and I so wanted to give you that promotion, but I couldn't in good conscious promote Catholics. She quit on the spot. Quit on the spot.
Q: Anybody reading these histories, now we both grew up in an era where it was ending, but it was still there and that is the real prejudice that was against Catholics and also Catholics against others and everybody was, the Jews were separate. It wasn't pogroms or anything like that, but people were divvied up. I remember as a kid I really was told it's not a good idea to date Catholic girls because you can't marry them because if you do they'll take the kids away from you and it was very much there and then it just disappeared.