American family stories by audiographer Joe McHugh
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Other Mothers
Painting by Paula Blasius McHugh

When I was a child, a woman took care of me for several years after my father died and my mother had to go to work. Her name was Helen and her love and attention to my needs made all the difference. Here are some stories about other women who, although not blood mothers, nonetheless filled a much needed space in the life of the family.

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The Chinese Nurse
Playing Time 4:50

Linda Watanabe McFerrin's grandparents lived in China before the Second World War. That's where Linda's mother was born and might have died had it not been for a very special woman.

Playing Time 5:07

Growing up in South Carolina Bebs Chorak's family hired a black woman to look after her grandmother. Tugga ended up raising all the children in the Chorak family and the grandchildren too.

Libba Cotten
Playing Time 6:56

Legendary blues guitarist Elizabeth Cotten used to work for the Seeger family. Here Mike Seeger tells how he and his sister Peggy discovered that "Libba" was such a gifted musician and how they recorded her playing the guitar one Thanksgiving in the 1950s when their brother Pete and his wife came to visit. Following Mike's story is the original recording made that Thanksgiving Day so many years ago.