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Georgia Government Documentation Project: C

A guide to the Georgia Government Documentation Project oral history collection.

Series C. Women in the Legislature

C. Women in the Legislature (P2000-01)

This series of interviews was conducted by Georgia State University political science professor, Diane Fowlkes with eight prominent women politicans in Georgia.

For Availability Information, see the Finding Aid.

Series C Oral Histories

Clark, Betty Jean (P1988-05)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

July 27, 1987

61 pp.

Betty Jean Clark (1944-2011), of DeKalb County,  served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1973 to 1991.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; education and non‑political career; how Clark became involved in politics; voter registration; campaign organization and finances; campaign issues; endorsements; impression of legislature; Grace Hamilton; George L. Smith; Tom Murphy; changes in the legislature due to presence of women; Cathey Steinberg; legislative work and levity; how learned to work in legislature; J. C. Dougherty; Rules Committee; fight for black issues; middle class issues; crime and drugs in Clark's district; welfare; district work and interacting with various governments; legislative calendar; family background; campaigning and campaign opposition; how works to get bills passed; Tom Murphy; the press; legislative process; abortion issue; issues of the aged; legislative accomplishments and disappointments; being a woman in the legislature; Clark's impact; attentiveness to bill reading; how to be successful in the legislature; women's issues.


Engram, Bev (P1988-12)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

May 6, 1988

74 pp.

Bev Engram represented District 34 in S. Fulton County, in the Georgia Senate from 1981 to 1989.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; education; how Engram became involved in politics; Cliff Davis; Georgia politics; political strategies; education issues; campaign organizing; constituent service; campaign financing; reapportionment; learning to function in the legislature; Perry Hudson; health and fitness issues; campaign political opposition; financial advantage of being a Democrat; user's fee issue; the press; Roy Barnes; relationships with legislative leaders; sales tax issue; emission control issue; women in the state legislature; Cathey Steinberg; the black caucus; Corrections Committee; Education Committee; the "Green Door" (budget) committee; Zell Miller; Culver Kidd; committee assignments; handicap legislation; continuing education for doctors; satisfactions/disappointments in legislative job; smoking issue; Engram's impact; ERA; women in public office.


Felton, Dorothy (P1988-06)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

March 25, 1988

83 pp.

Dorothy Felton (b. 1929) has served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1977 to the present.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; education; Inez Robb; husband's background; Felton's sons; why got involved in politics; journalism and politics; education system issue; Felton's Republican background; campaign organizing; Helen Bullard; campaign financing; reelection campaign; how learned to function in the legislature; education issue; committee appointments; why remained in politics; campaign opposition; constituent service; annexation/incorporation issue; Republican Party; Mike Egan; relationship with the press; relationship with Georgia governors; reapportionment committee; Republican and Democratic women legislators; women's caucus; committee assignments; authority of House speaker; legislative concerns; Felton's accomplishments and disappointments; prison situation; impact as a woman in the legislature; women lobbyists; discrimination against women in the legislature; women in the Republican Party; women's issues; Felton's impact; reapportionment trial.


Horton, Janice (P1988-13)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

April 29, 1988

64 pp.

Janice Horton, an educator and real estate agent in Henry County, served in the Georgia Senate from 1979 to 1986.

Among topics discussed:  Family and educational background; marriage and early career; business interests; conflicts of interest; why entered politics; early political career; marital problems and political career; campaign organizing; campaign support and financing; the political "machine"; political opposition; how learned Senate job; Culver Kidd and sheriffs' pay raise; lobbyists' and politicians' hidden agendas; interaction between local, county, and state government; constituent concerns; capitol renovation scandal; Democratic Party; press relations; working with Georgia governors; committee appointments; Zell Miller and Tom Murphy; reasons politicians vote the way they do; Hugh Gillis; the legislative process; Virginia Shapard; Bev Engram; friction between Cathey Steinberg and Eleanor Richardson; Earlene Sizemore's opposition to ERA; black caucus; Appropriations Committee; accomplishments and disappointments while in Senate; McDonough politics; difficulty of being a women in the Senate; impact of women in the Senate; women in politics; Cathey Steinberg's changed image; future plans.


Lowe, Bettye (P1988-07)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

August 19, 1987

89 pp.

Bettye Lowe represented Fulton County in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1978‑1983.

Among topics discussed:  Women and goal‑setting; family background; education; Lowe family business; the two‑politician family; lobbying; state funds to combat child abuse; how became involved in politics; lobbying; Lowe's relationship with Governor Busbee; Carl Sanders; efforts to obtain the 1988 Republican National Convention for Atlanta; how became a Republican; reapportionment; special elections; decision to run for office; first election; campaign organization; Jimmy Carter; Joe Frank Harris; John Greer wins election against Lowe; comparative effectiveness as lobbyist and legislator; ERA; emotional outbursts by legislators; ladies' bathroom and Tom Murphy; accomplishments; funding for Grady Hospital; animosity between Lowe and Joe Mack Wilson; Grace Hamilton; women's issues; Eleanor Richardson; committee appointments; bank vault issue; disappointments; trauma of election loss; business interests following departure from legislature; Elderly Authority Board; future plans; impact as a woman in the legislature; needed changes for women in the legislature.


Richardson, Eleanor (P1988-02)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

June 29, 1987

41 pp.

Eleanor Richardson (1913-2006) served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1975 to 1991.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; early career; marriage; first interest in politics; League of Women Voters; death of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Richardson's first campaign; campaign finances and petition drive; campaign opposition; neo‑natal health care issue; Dr. Mickey Freeman; differences with Moral Majority; staff and interns; legislative technique; changes in campaigning; committees on which served; legislative appointments; relationship with constituents; press relations; relationship with governors Busbee and Harris; relationship with legislators; taking a stand in the legislature; the "no‑smoking" issue; reason for hopeful appointment to the Appropriations Committee; women's issues; inheritance laws; retirement; the Legislative Counsel; accomplishments and disappointments; plans for the future; AIDs bill; impact as a legislator; changes for women in the legislature; present interests; the elderly.


Shapard, Virginia (P1988-01)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

January 26, 1988

119 pp.

Virginia Shapard (b. 1936), the first woman to serve in the Georgia Senate, held office from 1975 to 1979.

Among topics discussed:  Education; family background; Tammany Hall; move to Georgia; child welfare work; Episcopal Church bi‑racial committee; Judge McGhee; the Stark case; changed attitudes towards participants promoting desegregation; husband's background and occupation; Shapard's children; first interest in politics; the Utility Club (community service); fertility difficulties; library bond referendum; ad valorem taxes; public education issue in Georgia; first campaign for state senate; Culver Kidd; difficulty of spread‑out nature of senatorial district; campaign organization; speeches and speech writing; campaign financing; why ran for Senate rather than House; Zell Miller; reforms wanted to see in Senate; women in politics; role of local Democratic Party in Shapard's campaign; first actions in Senate; legislative delegation and county interests; reaction to Shapard as first woman senator; House and Senate working together; legislative pay raise issue; committee appointments; Senate reform; Al Holloway; ethics issue; Roscoe Dean; controversial issues in the legislature; adoption code issues; learning disabilities issue; Shapard's second election; education issues; state budgeting process; Paul Coverdell; interacting with other legislators; constituency relations; lobbying; Elaine Bolton; time constraints; National Association of State Legislators; Governor Busbee; banking issue; why ran for Congress; Newt Gingrich; Women's Campaign Fund; 1978 congressional campaign; Betty Talmadge; campaign difficulties; campaign finances; reasons Shapard thinks she lost in 1978; how paid off campaign debts; current interests; welfare fraud and sales tax issue in campaign; feelings about losing to Newt Gingrich; accomplishments and disappointments; impact as state senator; Bev Engram; problems for women in the legislature; women candidates.


Steinberg, Cathey (P1989-10)

Interviewed by: Diane Fowlkes

July 21, 1989

117 pp.

Cathy Steinberg (b. 1942) served in the Georgia House of Representatives 1977 to 1988, in the Georgia Senate 1991 to 1992, and was a candidate for Public Service Commissioner in 1988.

Among topics discussed:  Family background; Steinberg's parents; education; early work as adoption counselor; Sandy Bem; pre‑feminist concerns regarding working and family life; move to Atlanta; early difficulties in Atlanta; how first got involved in politics; 1976 campaign organization; Manuel Maloof; George Petro; Al Burruss's challenge to Tom Murphy and its effect on Steinberg; work with constituents overcomes stereotypes; Steinberg's district makeup; campaign opposition; adjusting to ways of doing business in the legislature; anti‑rape legislation; Jewishness issue; working with Tom Murphy; political compromises; relationship with the press; family support and domestic help during legislative sessions; marital problems; Steinberg's life after divorce; Sidney Marcus; the fight for the ERA and its aftermath; conflict with Eleanor Richardson; lobbying for women's issues; Nursing Home Patients Bill of Rights; consumer issues; why ran for Public Service Commission (PSC); possibilities for future campaigns; impact in the legislature; changes in the legislature; being involved in issues when not in office; impact as a state‑wide candidate; women as campaign contributors; abortion issue.

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Finding Aid

Phone: (404) 413-2880
Fax: (404) 413-2881

Mailing Address:
Special Collections & Archives
Georgia State University Library
100 Decatur Street, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3202

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