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New Wikipedia Articles on Kentucky Women’s History

April 9, 2013 in Oral history, Political history, Religious history, Social history

With congratulations to the terrific UK Honors Program students who wrote them, I list the newest Wikipedia articles on Kentucky women’s history below:

by emme23

Kentucky Women in Civil Rights after WWII

March 5, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s

At the beginning of the 1940s, the suffering and unemployment created by the Great Depression created nationwide protest movements, which continued after WWII. One of the issues that invoked protest was the treatment of African-American soldiers. Those these men were traveling overseas to fight in the war just as white soldiers were, when they came home they were still not allowed to eat at the same counter as whites in a restaurant or sit in the same section on a bus. This segregation created national movements that are well known, such as the 13month bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, however efforts to stop the segregation were also taking place in Kentucky.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the NAACP Youth Council would host sit-ins and pickets in an effort to desegregation Louisville. This council was led by Lyman Johnson, who had earlier helped desegregate the University of Kentucky in 1949.

Other organizations such as CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, also help protest efforts. CORE was an especially active group in Central Kentucky. The organization help regional workshops on non-violence for students, which helped students prepare to handle the abusive language they might face.

NAACP members protest against segregation.

Not only did organizations play a large role in addressing racial discrimination, but Kentucky women did as well. Anne Braden lead a hospital desegregation drive in Kentucky, and was arrested in 1951 after she protested the execution of an African-American man who was convicted for raping a white woman. She is most famous for her attempt to purchase a house for the Wades, a black family who was unable to purchase a home on their own because of the Jim Crow laws.

Another outstanding woman, Helen Fisher Frye, worked to organize the Danville chapter of the NAACP and worked to desegregate public housing as well as hosted sit-ins with students.

These women, though not made famous by history books, played a key role in creating a desegregated America. Often times their efforts are looked over, however it is important that we realize what a large role Kentucky women played in desegregating America.


“Anne Braden.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. 04 Mar. 2013.

Fosl, Catherine, and K’Meyer, Tracy Elaine. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Frye, Helen Fisher. Interviewed by David R. Davis.   Eastern Kentucky University. 1980. 04 Mar. 2013.

“Notable Kentucky African Americans – Frye, Helen Fisher.” University of Kentucky Libraries. University of Kentucky. 04 Mar. 2013.

Norms of Southern Racial Etiquette and Helen Fisher Frye

February 25, 2013 in 1940s-1950s

Helen Fisher Frye was an African American woman that grew up in a fairly stereotypical segregated area.  Her entire pre-collegiate education was spent in a segregated school system.  Even when she became a teacher herself, she spent her first years teaching in schools for African Americans only.

For most of Frye’s childhood, she truly “adhered to the norms of Southern racial etiquette.”  This phrase comes from a theme in The Maid Narratives.  The general idea supporting this theme is that children were normalized to the idea of segregation and unequal treatment.  Although The Maid Narratives focuses largely on this idea in the Caucasian context, it could equally be applied to children like young Helen, whose parents encouraged them to tolerate existing social norms.  In Freedom on the Border, Frye recollected about moving off the sidewalk for white children as a daily expectation.

Perhaps the definitive factor that kept this idea from a life of complete tolerance and disregard to the unfairness of the situation was Frye’s upbringing. Although her parents encouraged her tolerance of the current unjust system, they greatly encouraged her that education was the best path to rise above that poor treatment.

Helen’s education allowed her to become a successful activist in Danville.  Higher education was not easily achieved.  Her initial degree, a BA in education, came from the traditionally black Kentucky State University.  Graduate studies proved much more difficult to get in the state of Kentucky.  Frye eventually had to attend Indiana University for her master’s in education, after losing a battle to take classes through the University of Kentucky.

Despite that setback, Frye eventually attended UK for her second graduate degree in library sciences.  She became the very first African American woman to receive that degree from the university.


Wormer, Katherine Van; Jackson, David W., III (2012-09-17). The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South (p. 270). Louisiana State University Press. Kindle Edition.

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy E. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, Ky: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2009. Internet resource.

Frye, Helen Fisher.   Interviewed by David R. Davis.   Eastern Kentucky University.   1980.  Web.   16 Feb. 2013.

University of Kentucky Libraries. “Notable Kentucky African Americans – Frye, Helen Fisher.” University of Kentucky. (accessed February 24, 2013).

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