[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)
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
[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)
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
This month we are highlighting our African American Education Digital Collection in celebration of Black History Month. Currently, this collection contains materials from the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum as well as materials from the Division of Negro Education of the Department of Public Instruction.
Today’s post features Charlotte Hawkins Brown. As an educator, civic leader, and founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute, she was a pioneer in education and demonstrated unwavering dedication to helping her students reach their greatest potential.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown, top center, is seen photographed with four other Palmer Memorial Institute faculty members, ca. 1902. Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum. African American Education Digital Collection. State Archives of NC. [source]