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Trip to Frankfort

April 15, 2013 in Primary source, Social history

picture of Frankfort Capital Building

Capitol Building

This past week, our class had the opportunity to take a trip to our state’s Capitol in Frankfort. This trip was a great experience, and we were able to see a lot of things that related to our course’s curriculum. We spoke with Eleanor Jordan, who took us on a tour of the Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit. It was very wonderful to see the women we’ve been studying immortalized on the walls of our Capitol.

It was enlightening to speak with Eleanor about her dreams for including Women in Kentucky history. The passion and fire we witnessed in these women, along with that of the attendees of the Proclamation signing, was inspiring to witness. It truly brought to light the fact that our work for this course matters. People dedicate their lives to this cause, and to us, these project may seem like just another thing on our to-do list, there are people who truly care about these women and their lives. It was humbling to witness, and it has provided me with a new-found dedication and the final push necessary to end our semester strong.

The Proclamation signing was also fascinating. Men and women who have dedicated their lives to obtaining rights for people of all colors, all genders, and all walks of life spoke to us about their passions and dreams for the Commonwealth. These wonderful people simply overflow with passion, and it was inspiring to be able to spend time with them. I am so pleased that our class had this opportunity, and I hope that our work continues to thrive and develop as the end of the semester quickly approaches.



“Frankfort”, (3 July 2007)


Citizenship – Emma Guy Cromwell

January 26, 2013 in 1920s-30s, Political history, Primary source

Emma Guy Cromwell wrote Citizenship to explain to teach recently franchised peoples the process and importance of voting. She believed that with the right to vote came great responsibility – the responsibility to vote with intelligence, to understand one’s rights and to exercise them with logic, reason, and intelligence rather than with blind passion. While Cromwell respected the passion of new voters and old voters alike, she recognized that passion can inhibit people’s rationale, and can be dangerous when spread to wide audiences. By combining the logic of suffragist groups and maternalist groups, Cromwell appealed to a larger audience and was able to reach more people.

Cromwell wrote this manual for the everyman (and everywoman). With clear language and great care, she explains what it means to be a citizen of the United States. She details how this nation functions, as well as the importance and qualifications for voting. She is unbiased, and gentle in her writing. She clearly has the best interest of the people at heart, and is dedicated to helping the people of the United States best serve their nation. Citizenship is exactly the thing she advertises – a manual for being a conscientious, dedicated, and proper citizen. In this manual, she explains how one can best make use of the rights, freedoms, and liberties provided to us by our government.

My father, a Veteran of the United States Air Force, has always expressed to me the concept of civic duty. I grew up knowing how important it was to pay your taxes in full, take your turn for the most insufferable stints of jury duty, and especially to vote. While my father stresses the importance of voting, he, much like Cromwell, passionately believes that the best kind of voter is an informed voter. If one is ignorant of their own rights, as guaranteed in the Constitution, they cannot, with due conscious, make decisions as important as voting. A voter must be informed, not only about their rights as citizens of this nation, but they also must be informed about current issues and policies in order to make the best possible decisions as they enter the voting booth.

Today, many young people are ignorant of the issues that plague our nation daily, and many are unconcerned with the infrastructure of our government. Emma Guy Cromwell fought against people like this – she fought for intelligent, informed, and passionate people who were dedicated to understanding the system they had the chance to be a part of. Today’s youth are both ignorant and indifferent to the fact that they have the right, and the responsibility, to take interest in the governing of our nation. Disinterested and misinformed or uninformed voters are a detriment to our nation, even today, and Cromwell’s Citizenship is a guide and a plea to these people to educate themselves and take part in the democratic system by which we are privileged to be governed.

The Fight for Women’s Rights

April 19, 2011 in 1960s-1970s, Historical Decades, Social history

Carol Hanisch, powerful civil-rights activist starting in the late 1960’s bringing awareness to black oppression, and women suffrage. I found most of my information from her formal website, and from “Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America,” by Alice Echols, published in 1989. “Daring to Be Bad,” explains how Hanisch worked together with other activist on women rights. Hanisch was born on a farm in Iowa; she graduated from Drake University in the early 1960’s. She started working with the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) around 1966.

The SCEF was established in 1946 which was the leading proponent of integration and civil-rights. The SCEF held offices in New Orleans, Louisville, and Atlanta. After working with the SCEF she moved to New York City, and help established the New York Radical Women (NYRW), by the fall of 1968, over one-hundred women had joined the liberation movement (Daring to Be Bad, 1989).  These women wanted to fight for their rights that was wrongfully denied to them because of their gender. And in 1968 these women took their stance when they protested the Miss. America Pageant in Atlanta City. Over one-hundred and fifty women from six major cities join them. The huge group of women stood outside and threw feminized items into a trash can: high-heels, bras, aprons, skirts and make up. Hanisch helped some women sneak a banner inside the pageant and shown it to millions on national television. The banner and protest worked, springing huge amounts of attention for the movement.

“One of the reasons we came off anti-woman was our lack of clarity. We didn’t say clearly enough that we women are all forced to play the Miss America role-not by beautiful women but by men who we have to act that way for and by a system that has so well institutionalized male supremacy for its own ends.” Carol Hanisch (Page 95, Daring to Be Bad.)  The NYRW soon fractured after the huge success from the protest.  Hanisch went on to help recreate the Redstockings of the Woman’s Liberation Movement, which is a radical feminist group that was most active during the 1970’s. Redstocking is a compound word red coming from the revolution being created, and “stockings” from the Bluestocking movement of higher intellectual women. The Redstocking’s helped fight for the rights of abortion, funded speak-outs and radicalized thousands of women by distributing movement literature (free of charge), the organization is still being operated today.

Carol Hanisch is still promoting equality for women today. Her website contains information over her past achievements, you can read her articles, “Hard Knocks,” and “The Personal is Political.” The site sells online merchandise such as: her own publications, buttons and T-Shirts related to the  rights of women. Hanisch writings describe women’s rights for equal pay and to their own body. Carol has worked against racism, U.S. Imperialism, and even spent time in South Africa. She participated in environmental situations, and even saved a mountain from being destroyed and helped turn it into a state park. She currently works as an editor and a graphic design artist. She continues to find practical ways to get involved in the ongoing struggle for women’s liberation.

The Hard Road: A Woman of Integrity

April 13, 2011 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Political history, Social history

The Hard Road

A Woman of Integity


            Alice Allison Dunnigan was born in 1906 to a sharecropper and a laundress.  She came up under meager means but was taught a strict work ethic by her parents.  She had a love of writing and aspired to see the world through the eyes of a newspaper reporter.  She began her writing career at the age of thirteen when she began writing for the Owensboro Enterprise.

            Dunnigan completed the ten years of school allowed in the segregated Russellville school system and continued on to Kentucky State University.  She completed the teaching course at the university and began her teaching career in 1924.[1]  She became a history teacher at the segregated Todd County school system.  During her tenure as a school teacher she learned that African American children did not get the required learning in respect to their cultural heritage.  She devised a system of teaching them by inventing a brilliant learning tool called “Kentucky Fact Sheets”.  In 1939 they were collected for publication but no publisher would publish them.  They were finally published in 1982 as The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Tradition.[2]

            Dunnigan finished teaching school in 1942.  She moved on to her original love of writing and landed a job as a writer for the Associated Negro Press news service.  She wanted to work as a political reporter covering the national scene but her request for credentials to cover the Congress and Senate were denied.  Six months later she was granted press clearance and became the first African-American woman to gain accreditation.  She experienced racism from the beginning.  She often sat in hearings where African-Americans were referred to as “niggers” and had to sit with servants in order to cover President Taft’s funeral.[3]

            President Eisenhower requested that she give him a list of questions prior to meetings because her questions were so hard hitting.  Most of her questions centered around race issues and the abolition of the Jim Crow laws.  She refused to give her questions beforehand because no other reporter was required to do so. 

            Dunnigan has become a rich part of Kentucky history and a great example of female African-American heroism.  Against all odds she prevailed in one of the worst chapters of American history.  Her drive to teach African-American children to be proud of their heritage and her passion to change the way our country was heading is a tribute to her and those that have followed in her footsteps.  For further study you may want to read her autobiography, A Black Woman’s Experience:  From Schoolhouse to White House.  Alice Allison Dunnigan passed away on May 6th, 1983, in Washington, D.C.

Women Using Business to Reach Equality

December 6, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Economic history, Political history

An argument about how women would receive equality during the early 1900’s and before the beginning of the civil rights movement and the womens rights movment, some women believed it could be reached by acquiring equality in the finiancial world first. This meant women owning businesses, running bussiness and operating equally on an economic scale with the men in local society. This would be no easy task to accomplish, but many women continued to follow their dream until they either were respected wealthy women who were seen as equal to the men around them or until they failed and were forced to leave the business world for the common lifestyle led by most women in Kenucky during the first 70 years of the twentith century.

One such women that attempted and succeded at acquiring respect and equality among the men in her town of Kentucky was Nelda Barton-Collings from Corbin, Kentucky. With some help from her husband, the couple became wealthy and became owners of numerous businesses in Corbin. Once her husband died, she continued to control all of their businesses herself, but continued collaboration with a business partner that she and her husband had already been associated with prior to her husbands death. She was a natural leader and was the Republican National Committee Woman from Kentucky for 28 years and was the first woman to chair the Kentucky Chambers of Commerce. She recived no college schooling until after her husband passed, but learned mostly through the extended period of time in which she owned businesses. Today she owns with her business partner, nuring homes, newspapers, banks, and a pharmacy in the Corbin, Kentucky area.

Through business and economics, Nelda Barton-Collings was able to achieve equality in her daily life.  She is looked up to by many local women in the area and was able to live life as a equally respectable member in the community, not just as a women from Corbin, Kentucky whose husband owned a lot of businesses. She was able to distinguosh herself from the rest of the women in her town and raised herself above the norm for women from this time period.

The Fight for Equality in Housing

November 18, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Economic history, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Ruth Booker Bryant of Louisville KY, 2003

Ruth Booker Bryant, KY Commission on Human Rights Hall of Fame 2003

The effects of segregation in Louisville, Kentucky led the city to be split into two major sections. On the Black side of the city, the living conditions were rough, harsh and dirty for most African Americans. The claim ‘separate but equal’ was clearly not equal here. Some neighborhoods could be compared to third world country living conditions. While working as a social worker, Ruth Booker Bryant saw with her own eyes the way that some people were living, due to the poverty and the lack of upkeep by the cities garbage companies and housing companies.

Mrs. Bryant quit her job after seeing first hand people sleeping in the dirt, eating out of cans, having no furniture, etc. Mrs. Bryant lived in “Little Africa” (a segregated section of the Parkland neighborhood) for some time when first arriving to Louisville in the late 1940’s. This part of town had outside toilets and pigs and chickens running around people’s yards. This style of living needed to be upgraded, and seeing the things she did while being a social worker and then after living in Little Africa, she started to get involved with political activism on a small scale.

Ruth Booker Bryant joined the Women’s Committee of the Louisville Urban Renewal League, which had both white and black members. It was designed for progressive thinkers from bothe races to meet and “break the ice.” This was the first step in stopping segregation and for raising the bar for women’s rights in Louisville. Soon there after in the early 1960’s she became the chairman for the Housing Committee and joined the Louisville League of Women Voters. Mrs. Bryant’s new goal was to drastically improve the housing aspect of poor African Americans living in Louisville. She worked with leaders from government funded agencies such as Head Start as well as non-government groups active in Louisville during the early 1960’s during the War on Poverty. Her goal was to make the entire city of Louisville a better place to live.

Through her constant vigilance, Mrs. Bryant was able to impact her community  and bring about positive change to the people of Louisville. She crossed over racial and gender lines by being a black female. Mrs. Ruth Booker Bryant always carried herself in a positive light and never had time for hate. Women like her have helped change Louisville and Kentucky as a whole.

Most of my information came from:

Mrs. Ruth B. Bryant. Interview by Kenneth L. Chumbley. Digital recording and transcript. July 24, 1977. Tapes No. 592 and 593, Oral History Series, University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.

Ruth Booker Bryant, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington, KY.

See also the Lois Morris papers at the University of Louisville Special Collections:;cc=klgead;view=text;rgn=main;didno=klgar57k

by dawn

They Would Not Be Kept Down

October 22, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Social history

Black woman were often more successful due to the promoted value of education in African American Community. According to Paula Giddings, blue collar male workers were paid more than females so sons were encouraged to drop out before daughters (329). 7.2% of Black females held profession jobs compared with 3.1% of Black males (Giddings, 329). A 9.6% of the African American physicians were black woman compared to only 7% of White female physicians (332). African American woman also felt more confident within their successful occupation when asked 74% felt if they suited their career were as only 49% of White females felt that they did a study done in 1964 (Giddings, 333).

During the civil rights movement Black organizations fighting for African American rights often were not interested in supporting female African Americans. Black men within such organizations such as the SNCC, Black Panther Party, CORE, and the SCLC seemed to only allow women within to gain so much power. According to Giddings, the men concerned about their masculinity tried to keep woman from speaking , having positions over men. They expected woman to do the grunt work and other non-leadership jobs such as taking notes, serving food and such.

Ella Baker a woman heavily involved in the SCLC, wrote: “There would never be any role for me in a leadership capacity with the SCLC. Why? First, I am a woman…. The combination of the basic attitude of Men, and especially ministers, as to what the role of women in their church setups is- that of taking orders, not providing leadership.”(Giddings, 312).
Angela Davis worked with the Los Angeles chapter of SNCC. In When and Where I Enter, Davis discussed how the men did less work than the women but then “women where involved in something important, they began to talk about women taking over the organization calling in a matriarchal coup d’etat.” (Giddings, 316).

This kind of treatment was common though out Black organizations. Within the Black Panther Party Kathleen Cleaver who was an officer encountered similar problems stating “if I suggested them, the suggestion might be rejected; if they were suggested by a man the suggestion would be implemented… the fact that the suggestion came from a woman gave it some lesser value.” (Giddings, 317).
Gloria Richardson participation in a rally was shouted down by member of CORE who called her a “Castrator” (Giddings, 317). Richardson’s experience expresses the fears of the men so bluntly. Men who were already oppressed by whites did not want to lose power and masculinity to their female counterparts.

Giddings, Paula. When and Where I Enter.  1983. William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Educator, Attorney and Activist

October 21, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Political history, Social history

Professor Carolyn Bratt is a perfect example of a woman who took her views and beliefs to a new level of reality. Professor Bratt flew through many glass ceilings and then constructed escalators for other women to come through. Originally from New York, Professor Bratt graduated from Syracuse University College of Law in 1974 and then instantly joined the faculty of the University of Kentucky Law School in 1975. Once in Kentucky she never left, but instead devoted all of her free time to the civil rights movement and to the women’s equality movement.[1]

She broke through many barriers in Lexington history by being one of the first women to practice law in Lexington and was the first woman to be on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees.[2] This was the first time any women had done anything like this on a southern campus across the country. Professor Bratt gave more than three hundred speeches in her time at the University of Kentucky, all across the state, in order to give her opinions on the equality of women and gender in political, economical and educational aspects of life. Most recently she was deeply involved in helping the University of Kentucky create policies to deal with sexual assault and harassment for all of the people surrounding the campus.

It was extremely rare to see a woman on the forefront of her department who was involved in changing the way that women fit in around college life. She opened the doors for women to get involved in any aspect of the education process that they wished, where before certain areas of education were meant just for men. Her dedication to spreading her ideas on women’s equality and the civil rights movement is beneficial to the thousands of women that attended the University of Kentucky today.

[1] “2003 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.”

[2] “2003 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.”

by becca

History of UK and Women Students

October 19, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Social history

I was shocked to discover that the University of Kentucky’s womens basketball team was actually started a year before the mens in 1902.

However, that excitement was almost immediately shut down when I read that in 1924 the University Senate passed a bill that discontinued the womens team because if the game was too strenuous for the boys (which they thought) then it must be way too strenuous for the girls. So dumb.

I continued looking at the history of women and the roles they were allowed to play with the establishment of the University. In 1880, the Agricultural and Mechanical College allowed women to enroll, 15 years after the college itself was established.

Aside from the ridiculousness of the women’s basketball team, UK reestablished basketball and began gymnastics, track, tennis, swimming, and golf for women in 1974. A little late in my opinion, but better late than never I guess.

And in 1980, it was recorded that more women were earning degrees than men.

Overall, the University of Kentucky has had their ups and downs when it comes to being an equal opportunity school. We are lucky to attend during a time of equality!

by Mary

Women in the 1940s and 1950s…possibly forgotten?

September 22, 2010 in 1940s-1950s, Economic history, Social history

When thinking about influential women in the United States and Kentucky history we can go back the 20s when women were fighting for the right to vote. We also look at the 60s where the major feminist wave took over and women were fighting to be seen as equal competitors with men. So it leaves us with the question what about the 40s and 50s? What were women doing then that would be influential to our society today? When looking back at the way women were portrayed in movies such as “Pleasantville” and television during that time they were still seen as the caregivers and taking care of the home while the husband goes off to work to provide for his family. Many women during this time were actually working in factories, underpaid and unappreciated.

The working-class woman during this time was earning substantially less money than a man doing the same job. These women in a way set a groundwork for the generations to come and the struggle for equality in the work place. These women were protesting for equal wages while getting laid off, beaten and scrutinized while doing so. They formend unions to fight for equality, if these acts were to not have happened during the 40’s and 50’s than who’s to say women wouldn’t still be trying to fight for equality in the workplace and other places.

The struggles that these women went through is something that our generation and generations to come will never have to experience. Although the right to vote was granted for these women there was still struggle to find equality. The most inequality was found in the West and the South for women during this time. The South of course being traditional and not wanting women to go to work because that was a man’s job. It almost seems like the men during this time were scared that the lines between masculinity and feminity would become blurred and they were scared for women to start becoming their own person and having an identity. There was a need for social reform during this time. Although the 20’s gets all the attention for women gaining the right to vote and the 60’s gets attention for the feminist movement, women today would not enjoy the advantages they get if it weren’t for the 1940s and 1950s. These times truly set the groundwork for the feminist movement of the 60s and the equal work place we enjoy today.
This website gave helpful information and a guide as to how the 1940s and 50s for women went about.

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