Georgia’s history is rich with the stories of intrepid women who broke with tradition and paved the way for the freedoms and opportunities of their fellow and future Georgians. Learn about their achievements and histories, as well as the challenges they overcame.
Moving to Dahlonega after being married, Madeleine Kiker Anthony started the Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce and promoted the town's history of gold mining to the Georgia Board of Tourism. Her promotion efforts were only outdone by her work in historic preservation, converting the old courthouse to a gold museum and building a public history of the town for locals and visitors. As a capstone she chaired the Gold Dome project for the state capitol building and organized a wagon train to bring Dahlonega's gold to Atlanta.
Raised in rural, southern Georgia, Lillian Gordy Carter was trained as a nurse and spent her life opposing the strict codes of segregation. After the death of her husband, she left a life of being a homemaker and joined the Peace Corps to support public health in rural India. Her character drove many of the values behind her son Jimmy Carter's political campaigns and policies.
Married to a Confederate general, Helen Dortch Longstreet was a fighter in her own right. Helen became known as the "Fighting Lady," a champion of many causes, including environmental protection, civil rights and memorializing her late husband.
Family and friends, including President Jimmy Carter and Marcia Dew Bansley, Executive Director of Trees Atlanta, reflect on Jane Hurt Yarn's life work on protecting Georgia's environment. She was instrumental in passing conservation legislature, including the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act which preserves and protects Georgia's coastal environment.
A pioneering vernacular architect whose family moved to Decatur during the Great Depression, Leila Ross Wilburn's style defines many of the in-town neighborhoods in Atlanta. Attending school before women could be trained as architects, Wilburn received private instruction and began practicing at the age of 22. She leveraged the prevailing social attitudes of the time and convinced clients that with a woman's knowledge of the home, Wilburn was better placed than many male architects to design livable and functional domestic spaces.
Celestine Sibley won several awards and served many humanitarian causes during her career as a journalist, columnist, and author, becoming an iconic adopted daughter of Georgia.
Educated at the Savannah Pape School and Agnes Scott College, Anna Colquitt Hunter was first a journalist and then a field director for the Red Cross in North Africa during World War II. In the years after the war, she turned her attention to writing, painting, and acting. As her vision faded, she helped establish the Historic Savannah Foundation to preserve over 11,000 of the city's historic buildings and structures.
After falling on hard times during the depression of 1893 Nina Paper Anderson took to teaching at Savannah's Massey School. Her progressive educational views led her to open her own school where kindergarten was a focus, pupils were divided into groups, boys and girls were held to the same standards, and women consistently graduated to attend seven sisters colleges of the northeast. After a phone call from Juliette Gordon Low, it was Pape's students that became the first Girls Scouts and Nina Anderson Pape who helped write their first manual. Today, her educational legacy lives on in Savannah Country Day which grew out of original Pape School.
May duBignon Stiles Howard left sleepy Brunswick to attend nursing school in New York City. Returning to Georgia she became a nurse in Savannah, married a local doctor and rose to be president of the Georgia Medical Society. In education Howard led the Savannah Parent-Teacher Association to focus more on children's health and well being--including children with special needs. Appointed by Governor Talmadge to the President's educational council, she was also Savannah's Woman of the Year in 1953, and received May Howard Elementary School named in her honor.
Mary Francis Hill Coley was the midwife to thousands of babies and helped Albany's families, both black and white, with her progressive views towards childcare at the time. Not only did Coley deliver babies, she supported new families by organizing necessary forms and lending a hand with chores around the house. Her efforts were nationally recognized in 1952 when the documentary All My Babies was filmed about her role in the Albany community and used by the Georgia Health Department as an instructional training film.
Without a college degree or even a high school education, Madrid Loyd Williams became head of the Georgia Bar Association office during World War II. Often the only woman around lawyers and judges, she continued to break the mold by being elected the first female deacon of her Presbyterian church.
Born into slavery, Harriet Powers learned to sew from other slaves on a plantation in Madison County. Her story quilts show strong evidence of her west African roots combined with a European style of sewing and are known as historical records as well as folk art. One of her quilts hangs in the Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institute and the Museum of Fine Art in Boston.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Caroline Pafford Miller used the Georgia wilderness as the landscape of her novel Lamb in His Bosom. Born into a large family at the turn of the century, the time she spent in Waycross and Baxley during the Great Depression became the backdrop for her work chronicling Georgia's rural and small town residents.
Mary Ann Rutherford Lipscomb’s life was based on the philosophy that education was the key to a successful and productive future, especially for women. Her entire life is a reflection of bringing that philosophy to life—for herself, other women, and for all the children growing up in Georgia.