Women’s Work

This initiative is made possible by Emily Bourne Grigsby whose bequest endows support for the research, interpretation, and presentation of the role of women in the South.

As Atlanta History Center works to make history available and accessible to all, a key component is women’s history.

Dedicated philanthropist and multi-talented individual Emily Bourne Grigsby took a creative approach to support that important institutional priority. Grigsby made several gifts during her life to create women’s history programs and exhibitions that she could experience herself. With her death, Grigsby left a final gift to Atlanta History Center: a bequest in excess of $1 million to establish the Emily Bourne Grigsby Fund for Women’s History.

This transformative gift ensures in perpetuity that the integral history of women in Atlanta and Georgia history are presented in her honor through specially focused exhibitions, programs, digital content, and more.

A Living History

Oral history interview of Emily Bourne Grigsby, 2004. Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center.

Women of Resolve

From the Collections

In 2020, Atlanta History Center archivists created detailed inventories for 16 archival collections that focus on women’s history in Atlanta. The photographs and historical documents in the collections help tell the stories of women civic leaders, activists, photojournalists, and entrepreneurs. These archival collections are open to the public by appointment at Kenan Research Center.

Suzanne Anderson Photographs, VIS 405

Protestors at a rally in Atlanta, expressing support for the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Rev. R.D. Abernathy at his desk

Suzanne Anderson Photographs, VIS 405

Civil Rights leader and minister Ralph David Abernathy in his office at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headquarters, Auburn Avenue, Atlanta.

Georgia State Women's Softball Championships

Atlanta Tomboys Documents, MSS 1204

Both the Atlanta Tomboys softball and basketball teams were invited to play in various competitions, including the Class A City Recreation Girls League, the Women’s National AAU Basketball Tournament, the Metropolitan Tourney, the Southeastern Region Tournament, and the World Tournament. The teams played in several states and in three countries: Canada, Cuba, and Mexico. The Atlanta Tomboys won the 1953 Georgia State Championship and played in more than one thousand games by 1986.

Souvenir program for Atlanta Tomboys

Atlanta Tomboys Documents, MSS 1204

Johnny Moon organized and coached Atlanta Tomboys, an amateur, later semi-professional, women’s basketball and softball team. He started the basketball team in 1944 and founded the softball team four years later to compete against the Lorelei Ladies. Some of the players, including Mickey Davis and Jean Dowell, continued careers in sports after their time with Atlanta Tomboys. The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame inducted Moon in 1987 and Atlanta Tomboys teams played together until the late 1990s.

Atlanta Women's Network Inc.

Atlanta Women’s Network Records, MSS 710

Atlanta Women’s Network was founded in 1979 to bring together women in professional careers for the mutual enhancement of their goals through tools and relationship building.

Atlanta's Women's Network Records

Atlanta Women’s Network Records, MSS 710

Atlanta Women’s Network aims to enhance the influence of women in their careers through “women supporting women.” Members meet once a month in a luncheon format with a guest speaker. Other formal and informal meetings, gatherings, and service opportunities give members a chance to develop valuable resources through education and networking.

Jimmy Carter on election night

Lucinda Bunnen Photographs, VIS 395

Jimmy Carter on election night, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, November 2, 1976.

Ramblin' Raft Race

Lucinda Bunnen Photographs, VIS 395

Participants in the Ramblin’ Raft Race held on the Chattahoochee River, 1969-1980.

Celestine Cibley

Lucinda Bunnen Photographs, VIS 395

Celestine Sibley, novelist, and editor and columnist for the Atlanta Constitution, 1941-1999.

Maria Helena Dolan papers

Maria Helena Dolan Papers, MSS 1196

Maria Helena Dolan helped found the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian History Thing, a nonprofit group that worked to preserve LGBTQ+ history in Atlanta. Documents collected and generated by the project were donated to Atlanta History Center in 1989 with subsequent additions. The collection contains LGBTQ+ publications, organization papers, and personal papers from local activists.

The Official Guide to Pride, Unity through Diversity

Maria Helena Dolan Papers, MSS 1196

Maria Helena Dolan is a leader in national and Atlanta LGBTQ+ advocacy. For the First (1979) and Second (1987) National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, she served as the Southern regional organizer. In addition, she was an organizer, speaker, and emcee for Pride marches,1978-1987 and 1992-1993.

Program of Work for the National League of Women Voters

Sallie Fannie Gleaton Papers, MSS 1208

Sally Fanny Gleaton was a women’s suffrage activist in the National Woman Suffrage Association, eventually becoming a field secretary. The association, formed in 1869 and led by leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, fought for women’s suffrage. Gleaton collected papers from the league, including annual convention pamphlets, financials, rosters, and correspondence between Gleaton and other leaders in the movement.

Votes for Women Christmas card

Sallie Fannie Gleaton Papers, MSS 1208

In 1915, Sally Fanny Gleaton marched in the first Atlanta Suffrage Parade. Four years later after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, she helped to organize White Women of Atlanta from her home in Conyers, Georgia. She continued to advocate for women to be granted all duties of citizenship, specifically jury duty.

Women's Work cartoon

Yolande Copley Gwin Visual Arts Materials, VIS 392

Yolande Copley Gwin worked as a journalist for both the Atlanta Constitution and the Atlanta Journal. This cartoon was submitted by artist Lou Erickson (signed “Eric”) for her society column in the Atlanta Journal.

Yolande Copley Gwin
Movie poster

Emily Bourne Grigsby Visual Arts Materials, VIS 391

Emily Bourne Grigsby with her husband, Paul Grigsby, in front of a sign for a performance of The Hit French Revue starring French ballet dancer Zizi Jeanmaire, hosted at the Atlanta Music Club, where Grigsby served as the president for six years.

Emily Bourne Grigsby

Emily Bourne Grigsby Visual Arts Materials, VIS 391

Emily Bourne Grigsby during her six-year tenure as president of the Atlanta Music Club. Grigsby was an avid supporter of the arts, having performed with the San Francisco Opera, Atlanta’s Moonlight Opera Company, and made major contributions to a variety of organizations throughout her lifetime.

Emily Bourne Grigsby with a child and man

Emily Bourne Grigsby Visual Arts Materials, VIS 391

Along with her accomplishments as a model, opera singer, and arbitrator, Emily Bourne Grigsby was a licensed pilot. Grigsby appears with an unidentified man and child before take-off.

Emily Bourne Grigsby modeling

Emily Bourne Grigsby Visual Arts Materials, VIS 391

Emily Bourne Grigsby modeling for an automobile company, circa 1955.

Vintage photo of factory

Florence Inman Photographs, VIS 389

Founded by interior designer Florence Inman and her husband Jerry Garrison, Focal Point, Inc., manufactured custom moldings and decorative architectural products in their Atlanta facility.

Florence Inman and Jerry Garrison

Florence Inman Photographs, VIS 389

Florence Inman and Jerry Garrison, co-founders of Focal Point, Inc., which created custom moldings for several notable properties, including the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and Colonial Williamsburg.

Archival paper

Lochrane and Reid Family Papers, MSS 1203

Captain George F. Todd to Sallie F. Reid, Camp Jackson, Georgia, August 20, 1861. Sarah Frances “Sallie Fannie” Grant Reid, known as the “Belle of Georgia,” served as secretary of the Ladies of the Soldiers’ Relief Society for the Confederacy during the Civil War. During the war, such societies were established to organize supplies for soldiers and care for the sick and wounded.

Lochrane and Reid Family Papers

Lochrane and Reid Family Papers, MSS 1203

Captain George F. Todd to Sallie F. Reid, Camp Jackson, Georgia, August 20, 1861. Sallie Fannie Reid’s support helped to equip the Sallie Fannie Reid Guards, a military company from LaGrange, Georgia, that operated outside of the Confederate Army and whose members were legally exempt from military service. Captain George F. Todd of the West Point Guards was killed at the Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862.

March for Science

Chris Mastin Photographs of Protest Marches, VIS 399

Protesters at the 2017 March for Science at Candler Park held in response to President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health. It was one of 400 satellite marches that took place in the United States.

Urban League of Greater Atlanta protest

Chris Mastin Photographs of Protest Marches, VIS 399

Participants at the Martin Luther King Jr. March and Rally, which was part of a larger series of events that honored Martin Luther King Jr. and marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination. It focused on issues of transportation, education, housing, job creation, voter registration, education, and environmental justice.

Protest at Capital Building

Chris Mastin Photographs of Protest Marches, VIS 399

The Women’s March on Washington in 2017 attracted thousands of marchers nationally who travelled from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., to participate. The protests were prompted by sexist comments made by President Trump and addressed policies surrounding women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, immigration reform, and racial inequality among others.

The Voters Song sheet music

Roan Family Papers, MSS 1202

An active participant in Atlanta civic life, Margaret Roan was a member of the Covington Suffragettes, a national officer of the League of Women Voters, and a leader in Democratic women’s groups. She served in the Woman Volunteer Services of DeKalb County during World War II. She collected documentation of her work in scrapbooks that included telegrams to the Convention League of Women Voters, articles, and documents from the National League of Women Voters.

Ideal Homes of Today book

Leila Ross Wilburn Visual Arts Material, VIS 72

One of Georgia’s pioneering women architects, Leila Ross Wilburn designed hundreds of innovative and affordable homes in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast during her prolific career spanning over 50 years. As one of only two female architects in Atlanta at the turn of the 20th century, Wilburn specialized in residential architecture, building bungalows and small homes in the Craftsman, Colonial, and Tudor styles.

Order plans

Leila Ross Wilburn Visual Arts Material, VIS 72

Leila Ross Wilburn was responsible for the construction of homes in Atlanta’s burgeoning middle class in Decatur, Inman Park, Avondale Estates, and elsewhere through her own practice. She also marketed her designs through plan books illustrated with photographs and renderings she offered to individual clients and to contractors, builders, and developers, who ordered her plans for their own construction.

Women Business Owners Newsletter

Darlene Roth Papers, MSS 1210

Darlene Roth was an historian, teacher, museum curator, writer, and speaker. In addition to owning Darlene Roth and Associates, she joined the National Association of Women Business Owners, an organization that works toward “propelling women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.”

Interview with Grace Towns Hamilton

Darlene Roth Papers, MSS 1210

Interview with Grace Towns Hamilton. In 1982, Roth bought the History Group, a professional historical consulting business in Atlanta, renaming it Darlene Roth and Associates. She served as Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Atlanta History Center, 1989-1997. In addition, she published several books about Atlanta history, including Metropolitan Frontiers: A Short History of Atlanta, and Matronage: Patterns in Women’s Organizations, Atlanta, Georgia, 1890-1940.

Black and white building with marching band in foreground

Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta Visual Arts Materials, VIS 398

The Atlanta Dogwood Festival parade in downtown Atlanta. In 1967, the Atlanta Women’s Chamber of Commerce began sponsoring the festival, transforming the fledgling and irregularly held affair into an annual April event.

Atlanta Women's Chamber of Commerce members with Mayor Ivan Allen Jr.

Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta Visual Arts Materials, VIS 398

Atlanta Women’s Chamber of Commerce members with Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. planting a dogwood tree in downtown Atlanta.

Organizing kit for National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights

Cathy Woolard Papers, MSS 1214

Cathy Woolard was the first openly lesbian member of Atlanta City Council, serving from 1997 until 2002. She also worked on the Atlanta March Committee for what would become the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987, later called “The Great March.”

Atlanta Beltline Redevelopment Plan

Cathy Woolard Papers, MSS 1214

While President of Atlanta City Council from 2002 to 2004, Woolard advocated for the Atlanta BeltLine, and the bulk of her collection is planning materials about its construction, such as financial and environmental studies, presentations, and magazines and publications.

Related Exhibitions

Any Great Change

This onsite exhibition explores the decades-long struggle for women’s suffrage as well as the key groups, their strategies, and their leaders, including Emily C. MacDougald and her daughter, Emily Inman, owner of Swan House.

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