5. October 11- October 18

Over Fall Pause, I’ve begun the close reading process for a few of the sources I thought were most central to the project. I began with the articles by Georgia Swift King, Lucy Laney, Minnie Wright Price, Selena Sloan Butler and Rosa Morehead Bass because I think they’re at the heart of this 1895 narrative – they’re writing in 1896 and 1897 and therefore reacting to/creating their own black intellectual debates of the period. Of particular interest is the way that these women position mothers and reformers within these dialogues, taking the time to stress their moral authority. The attention given to establishing this kind of legitimacy signals that perhaps their moral influences were not a given but rather needed to be fought for. I think that this rhetorical strategy is worth unpacking further. I also think that the distinctions drawn between the middle classes and working classes of city communities is particularly interesting – Price in particular explores this dynamic explicitly, but it is implicit within all the women’s writings. Did black men do the same thing in their writings? Finally, I was surprised that while almost all of the women brought up the dangers of intemperate lifestyles, none of them suggested legal prohibition as a solution. Even Georgia Swift King, a leader in the WCTU, focused her argument on a call for state reformatories to keep the young boys already tempted by liquor from the negative influences of the chain gang. Although all of them stress the moral, social and physical benefits of  a temperate lifestyle, none seem compelled by the legislative approach. I wonder if this is because the failures of the 1885-1887 years remains in recent memory. How much did that feel an event of their generation?

I also turned to historical newspaper databases. If I do end up using Proctor as a central character, a significant number of his sermons and op-eds are immortalized in the Atlanta Constitution (for example, “Black Battle of Atlanta,” “On Candler,” Harmony Appeal Between Races,” “Co-operation,” “Recent Attacks on Women,” “The Dives Must Go,” and “Too much Crime, Ignorance, and Poverty Among Negroes”). I also found 40+ articles surrounding the 1895 Cotton exhibition in the Constitution, with several focusing on black contributions (especially “Exhibit of the Negroes,” “For Their Race,” “The Colored Exhibit,” and I. Garland Penn’s rich “Awakening of a Race”). I found the December 1895 “For Their Race” to be particularly helpful, as it describes a meeting of the National Colored Woman’s Congress at the BME Church in Atlanta held in the last month of the exhibition. Led by Chairman Lucy Thurman, the women endorse the WCTU and the Christian Endeavor, condemn a recent article of Rev. S.A. Steele, call for organized orphan asylums, reformatories and educational improvements, support laws to protect tenants and property owners, condemn lynch law, and ask that southern press use “Mrs.” or “Miss” when referring to black women. The article also includes the program for the following day, which includes a speeches by I. Garland Penn, Kelley Miller, and Booker. T Washington among many other professors and notable figures. Looking further into this meeting led me to the Woman’s Era, which reported on African American female reform groups from 1894 and 1897. Although the publication has a national focus, it includes several articles about Atlanta organizations and might be helpful to understand how national club federations reacted to Washington and others during this period.

Finally, my last task for this week was to consider how this chapter might fit into existing literature on women reformers in 1895. Although I have yet to get a meaningful sense of the broader landscape of existing secondary sources, I’ve begun to identify several that have tackled the subject (either in broader Southern context or with a specific Atlanta focus) and hope next week to figure out my chapter’s place in that landscape. Below is a very preliminary list:

Cashin, Edward J. and Glenn T. Eskew. Paternalism in a Southern City: Race, Religion, and Gender in August, Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012.

Chirhart, Ann Short and Betty Wood. Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009.

Hickey, Georgina. Hope and Danger in the New South City: Working Class Women and Urban Development in Atlanta, 1890-1940. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003.

Hunter, Tera W. To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Logan, Shirley Wilson. We are Coming: The Persuasive Discourse of Nineteenth-Century Black Women. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.

Loewenberg, Berta James and Ruth Bogin. Black WOmen in Nineteenth Century American Life: Their Words, Their Thoughts, Their Feelings. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.

McCluskey, Audrey Thomas. A Forgotten Sisterhood: Pioneering Black Women Educators in the Jim Crow South. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014.

Mitchell, Michele. Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Montgomery, Rebecca S. The Politics of Education in the New South: Women and Reform in Georgia, 1890-1930. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005.

Wilson, Francille Rusan. The Segregated Scholars: Black Social Scientists and the Creation of Black Labor Studies, 1890-1950. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006.