Tag Archives: Women’s History Month

Lillian Exum Clement Stafford: Worthy of “She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers”–– A Program of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Private Collections of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Introduction

Exum with a group of other legislators, on grounds of the State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C., early 1921. (Photo from PC.2084_Phots_B5_F1_A)

This blog is based, with some modifications, on one published in March of 2018 as part of Women’s History Month and to announce the availability in the State Archives of the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers (PC.2084). She remains worthy of additional highlighting as North Carolina begins a campaign to recognize women breaking barriers and to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary, 2020, of women’s suffrage. A member of the North Carolina Bar and a practicing attorney, L. Exum Clement (as she signed her official portrait) chose to run for the state legislature even before women gained the vote, through ratification of the 19th Amendment in August of 1919.

As the story goes and newspaper articles show, the Buncombe County Democratic party, in a remarkable show of support, had placed Exum’s name on the ballot for the June primary. Such gumption was characteristic of L. Exum Clement (hereafter referred to as Exum).  She went on to beat two male contenders, winning in the November election to become the first woman lawmaker in her own state and in the entire South.  Exum’s accomplishments did not stop there, and she continued to show exceptional drive and courage as a freshman legislator. Exum’s papers in the State Archives contain a remarkable letter of January 11, 1920, from her father who wrote these telling words, “I was glad to see in the papers that you were appointed on an important committee. Your friends here are talking of running you for Congress in the next election.”

Continue reading

Women’s History Month 2018 – Charlotte Hilton Green

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Private Collections of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Charlotte Hilton Green (1889 – 1991)—writer, naturalist, wildlife and nature conservation advocate.

No1_PC_1661_B3_F1_B139 (800 x 646)

Charlotte Hilton Green, center, with Bernice Kelly Harris, right. Charlotte Hilton Green Papers, PC.1661, State Archives of NC. [PC.1661_B3_F1_B]

Private Collections are filled with the traces and imprints of inspiring women. Charlotte Hilton Green (1889-1991) is one of the many women deserving of tribute. A native of Chautauqua County, New York, Charlotte first taught school in a one-room school house, as early as 1909. Students included distractible boys who would rather shoot birds and animals than study them. Yet Charlotte was successful, in large part, because she developed the art of creating interest and communicating on a child’s level the complexities of science and nature study. Later, as writer of a weekly nature column for the News and Observer, Charlotte developed a wide following––which many attributed to her ability to put scientific facts and environmental issues into layman’s terms. Continue reading

Women’s History Month 2018 – Lillian Exum Clement Stafford

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Private Collections of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Lillian Exum Clement Stafford (March 1886 – February 1925)

PC_2084_Phots_Bx5_F1_A_1900sEarly

Photograph of Exum taken probably during the early 1900s confirms her reputation as a beauty, parallel to her talents as a very capable young woman bent upon a career in law. Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084, State Archives of NC. [PC.2084_Phots_Bx5_F1_A]

In early 1920, before women could even vote, exceptional courage and drive were essential for a woman to run for the state legislature. Such gumption was characteristic of Lillian Exum Clement, known as Exum, who decided as early as April to enter the race––months before passage of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 26. The Buncombe County Democratic party, in a remarkable show of support, had placed Exum’s name on the ballot for the June primary. She went on to beat two male contenders, winning in the November election to become the first female lawmaker in her own state and in the entire South.

Exum was born near the North Fork of the Swannanoa River, March of 1886, the fourth child of George W. and Sarah Elizabeth Burnett Clement [see note at the end regarding her birth date and birth order.] Fast forward 35 years to the beginning of her legislative service when Exum was quoted as telling a reporter, “I am by nature, very conservative, but I am firm in my convictions. I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.” [News and Observer. Jan. 7, 1921]. Continue reading

Women’s History Month 2018 – Gertrude Weil

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Gertrude Weil (11 December 1879 – 30 May 1971)

2346043076_d999d78f14_o

Suffragettes, including Gertrude Weil, far left, May Borden Graham, fourth from left, and Rowena Borden, far right, circa 1920. General Negative Collection, State Archives of NC. [source]

Humanitarian, feminist, and social activist Gertrude Weil was born in Goldsboro, NC, in 1879 into a prominent family of Jewish merchants.  Gertrude Weil attended local public schools before enrolling at Horace Mann for secondary education.  While at Mann she became friends with teacher Margaret Stanton Lawrence, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the founders of the woman’s suffrage movement.  Already drawn to public service and philanthropy by the example of her mother, Mina Rosenthal Weil, Gertrude was inspired in part by her associations with Lawrence and Staunton to dedicate her considerable energies to the fight for gender equality and later racial equality. Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Ella Currie McKay

[This blog post was written by Stephen C. Edgerton, who donated the collection to Private Collections, Special Collections Section, and is volunteering under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist.]

In Recognition of Women’s History Month (March 2017): Focus on Researching Women in History, from the McKay, McPherson, and McNeill Private Papers (PC.2144)

Farmer’s Daughter

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917. From PC.2144, State Archives of North Carolina

Ella Currie McKay was born in 1888, the daughter of a progressive, North Carolina farmer with 75 acres of sandy, arable land in Robeson County. A highly resourceful man, her father managed to send four of his nine children—two girls and two boys—to college. Three of them became medical professionals—two doctors and one registered nurse. Ella was that nurse.

At age twenty-four in 1911, Ella graduated from Philadelphus High School. At Red Springs, a mile away, she attended and graduated from Flora MacDonald College for women, and in time, Whitehead-Stokes Sanatorium Nursing School in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her professional nursing career began in May of 1917 at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Raleigh. Her many letters to her family at this time reveal thoughts about her two brothers, doctors serving in the war, and about whether she should join in the fight.

“Oh, this is hell here now”

Just prior to the end of World War I, in September of 1918, Ella joined the U.S. Army as a Red Cross nurse. Her first posting was at the military hospital at Camp Meade, Maryland, nursing the wounded and afflicted soldiers. Within ten days she contracted Spanish Influenza. Too ill to work, she was kept isolated from her patients and others for weeks. Her eyes remained “glued shut,” she said, and her back ached as if it would break. But her symptoms were more merciful than those suffered by the soldiers she encountered once she again took up their care. She surely was now squarely on the front lines of the flu epidemic of 1918, estimated today to have killed more people worldwide in the short time it raged than all those who died in the four years of the First World War.

Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Carolista Baum

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photo of Carolista Baum from the files of the News & Observer, Raleigh, NC

Call number: NO_4710_CarolistaBaum_Fr11. From the N&O negative collection, State Archives of North Carolina; Raleigh, NC. Photo copyrighted by the Raleigh News and Observer. Illegal to use without express permission from the N&O.

Meet Carolista Baum, the woman credited with saving Jockey’s Ridge—the largest natural sand dune on the east coast. Carolista Baum was moved to activism when her children alerted her of construction equipment taking sand from the dune.  She simply walked out and sat down in front of the bulldozer, refusing to move. Baum then started a local campaign that included protests and fundraising that aimed to preserve the natural landmark for generations to come. Her efforts, bolstered by community support, were eventually successful in 1973 when the Division of Parks and Recreation decided to preserve the area as a state park which opened in 1975.

A film documenting her campaign and the community effort to save Jockeys’ Ridge was made in 1976 by then UNC-CH film student Ron Hagell – Jockey’s Ridge for All the People, 1976 [MPF.116]

Thank you, Carolista Baum!

Women’s History Month: Mary Bayard Morgan Wootten

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

It’s Women’s History month! Today we highlight photographer Bayard Wootten.

Bayard Wootten posing near sand dunes at Nags head, NC,

Bayard Wootten posing near sand dunes at Nags head, NC, Dare County, c.1920’s. Courtesy Ms Louise Morgan, Brevard, NC. (N_95_1_68) From the General Negatives, State Archives of NC.

Mary Bayard Morgan Wootten (1875–1959) was an American photographer and pioneering suffragist born in New Bern, N.C. Also a competent painter, she is credited with designing the first trademarked logo for Pepsi-Cola. Wootten was adventurous and unflinching in all aspects of her life, especially business. She owned several photography studios and was known to set out on solo trips across the state in her 1920s Ford to photograph North Carolina’s people and landscapes.  She continued to photograph well into her seventies and operated her photo studio until 1954. A trailblazer for women photographers in the South, Wootten overcame economic hardship, gender discrimination, and the obscurity of a small-town upbringing to become the state’s most significant early female photographer. She died in 1959 in Chapel Hill at the age of 83.

Wootten was adventurous in finding new angles for images, once dangling off a cliff to take the perfect photograph of Linville Falls. In 1914 she became one of the first female photographers to engage in aerial photography when she flew in an open-air Wright Brothers Model B airplane and took pictures of the landscape below.  She was also the first woman in the North Carolina National Guard.

Photographer Bayard Wootten with camera in front of cypress tree in Great Lake, Craven County, NC, 1909

Photographer Bayard Wootten with camera in front of cypress tree in Great Lake, Craven County, NC, 1909. Photo by H. H. Brimley. (PhC42_Bx16_Great Lake_F1-2) From the H. H. Brimley Photo Collection, PhC.42, State Archives of NC.

Originally trained as an artist, Wootten worked in photography’s pictorial tradition, emphasizing artistic effect in her images at a time when realistic and documentary photography increasingly dominated the medium. Traveling throughout North Carolina and surrounding states, she turned the artistry of her eye and lens on the people and places she encountered and is perhaps best known for her photographs of people living in impoverished rural areas in her home state of North Carolina.

Many of her photographs were used as illustrations for six books, including Backwoods America by Charles Morrow Wilson, 1934; Cabins in the Laurel by Muriel Sheppard, 1935; Old Homes and Gardens of North Carolina by Archibald Henderson, 1939; and From My Highest Hill by Olive Tilford Dargan, 1941.  UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library is home to the Bayard Morgan Wootten Photographic Collection which includes over 90,000 images and other materials created by Bayard Morgan Wootten and the Wootten-Moulton studios. Formats include glass negatives, film negatives, photographic prints, lantern slides, artwork, and some manuscript materials.  The State Archives of North Carolina houses only a few copies of some pieces of her work, but is fortunate to have several original photographs of Wootten working with H. H. Brimley photographing in eastern North Carolina in the first decade of the 20th century.

For more complete biographical information on Bayard Wootten, please see: