The Good Wife Diploma | Exhibits

Bury 'Em Deep, Wolf Pack, ca. 1960

Historical Background

State's Mates was an organization of student wives on the campus of North Carolina State University that operated from 1947 until 1977. Although the club originally formed as a bridge group, they later evolved into a full-fledged social and civic association. The group served as a forum for the members to discuss issues relating to marriage, children, and monetary concerns and was an outlet for the women to publicly display their conceptions of femininity through variety shows, the Mrs. NC State pageant, fashion shows, and an array of service activities.

Women's Roles in State's Mates Exhibit

Being a male student’s wife in the mid-twentieth century was not easy. These wives were not necessarily the vision of the perfect housewife that we think about today: a well-dressed woman who awaits her husband’s arrival at the end of the day with a clean house and a hot meal. Rather, the women of State’s Mates had to juggle typical female domestic responsibilities with also being employed. Since their husbands were preoccupied with academic life at the university, the wives were in charge of the family, the home, and for most of them, the finances for the duration of their husband’s time at State. Their involvement in the organization offered support for their complicated lifestyle because each woman found herself among others in the same position.

Social Activities of State's Mates Exhibit

State's Mates was chiefly a social organization. Members socialized through formal functions such as fashion shows, talent shows, beauty pageants, and others. State's Mates used social activities as a way to connect with other student wives, express their femininity in a university environment, and play with the social norms of the 1950's and 1960's.

Civic Contributions of State's Mates Exhibit

Like many other women's organizations in 1960s America, State's Mates maintained a strong civic commitment, despite their characterization as a social group. Their contributions to the North Carolina State University community, as well as to Raleigh and the greater Triangle area, highlight their philanthropic sensibilities. This exhibit explores the rise and decline of volunteerism amongst State's Mates and its relevance to their local communities.