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Special Collections and Archives: Georgia Government Documentation Project: G

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

Series G. The Belle of Ashby Street: Helen Douglas Makin and Georgia Politics

G. The Belle of Ashby Street:  Helen Douglas Mankin and Georgia Politics (P1992-04)

Interviews by Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

Interviews in this series were conducted by Lorraine Nelson as material for her book, The Belle of Ashby Street. Nelson covered the 1946 Fifth Congressional District campaign for the Atlanta Georgian newspaper, and later went to Washington, D.C. to work for U.S. Rep. Helen Douglas Mankin. The 1946 campaign is notable in Georgia history in that it was the first congressional race since the Reconstruction era where black voter participation made an appreciable difference.

For Availability Information, see the Finding Aid.

Series G Oral Histories

Abram, Morris (P1978-02)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

January 4, 1978

50 pp.

 

Morris Abram (1918-2000) was an Atlanta attorney and prominent liberal.

Among topics discussed: First meeting of Abram and Helen Mankin; education; South v. Peters; Turman v. Duckworth; Democratic Party's use of the courts; Jim Peters; Judge Sibley; Judge Neal Andrews; Richard B. Russell's opinion of Andrews;  Russell and Harry Truman; the erosion of the county unit system; Hamilton Douglas and his relationship with Helen Mankin; South v. Peters in the Supreme Court; Joe Riles (UAW lawyer); Illinois senator Paul Douglas; Mankin in 1948; Everett Millican; Mankin's opinion of Duckworth; Mankin's use of foul language; Guy Mankin; Mankin's anonymity as sponsor of South v. Peters; qualifications of Bernard South; Southern Regional Council; William Hartsfield; Sanders v. Gray; Robert Woodruff and Hartsfield; filing suit over county unit system; political use of the  courts during county unit cases; Charles Reed; Charles Weltner; county unit case in Savannah; Alex Lawrence; Judge Frank Scarlett; Baker v. Carr; the judicial system in Georgia; Boyd Sloan; Frank Hooper; "mandamussing"; Buck Murphy; Helen Mankin as an attorney and an activist; Ruth Ann Abram; Abram's family; Ralph Spritzer; Abram's fight against county unit system; Brown v. Board of Education; James Davis' personality; Mary Martin; financial backing of South v. Peters; Mankin in 1948; Atlanta's views of Mankin; Mankin in Washington D.C. (1950); Josephine Wilkins; Hattie Carroll; Baker v. Carr's merits as a test case against county unit system; Herman Talmadge's attempts to strengthen county unit system in 1948 and 1950; "One man one vote" as a slogan; Robert Kennedy; the weight of votes; Archibald Cox; Jimmy Carter; Koinonia Farms; Carter's 1966 gubernatorial campaign; Carter's image in 1978.

 

Anderson, Amber Wallin (P1977-01)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

December 27, 1977

No Transcript

 

Anderson worked as a combination secretary and legal partner to Helen and Guy Mankin for a short time. She and Helen Mankin became close personal friends for the remainder of Mankin's life.

Among topics discussed: Anderson's early law career; women in law; Margaret Hills Fairleigh; county unit case, 1947; Anderson's work arrangement with Helen Mankin; personal relationship with Mankin; Mankin's politics; Mankin's death, birthdate; Mankin's efforts to control others' lives; Mankin's affection for Guy Mankin, Jr. and Hamilton Douglas; Mankin's approach to legal profession; Mankin's ability to handle money; relationship between Guy Mankin, Sr. and Helen Mankin; Mankin's ambitions; Mankin's relationship with Guy Mankin, Jr.; Mankin's anti‑Catholicism; Mankin's relationship with Hamilton Douglas, Jr. Mankin's personality; Mankin's relationship with siblings; Mankin's appearance; travels; interest in Israel; Mankin's anger at Margaret Fairleigh. Scandinavian settlement in Minnesota; Anderson's background; Hamilton Douglas; Mankin's relationship with her parents; Red Cross buttons; Mankin's Red Cross service in Europe; Mankin's death, will, and bequests; reaction to Mankin; Horace Moore; Anderson's retirement; Mankin's eye problems; William Randolph Smith; Mankin's relationship with Guy; Curtis Bryant; Mankin's temperament; Mankin's later years; county unit case; Mankin's legal practice; the 1946 black vote; Davis campaign contributors; efforts to oust Mankin; Mankin's profanities. Douglas family; Douglas family drinking; Helen Bullard. Mankin's death; Mankin's legal practices; Anderson's run for judgeship; Guy Mankin, Jr.; Guy Mankin, Sr.'s death; Mankin's reliance on Guy.

 

Arnall, Ellis (P1977-02)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 27, 1977

No Transcript

 

Ellis Arnall (1907-1992) served as governor of Georgia from 1943 through 1947 and was an integral part of the anti‑Talmadge faction in Georgia politics throughout his career.

SEE also Arnall interview in series A, F, and M.

Among topics discussed: Arnall's lecture and book enterprises; endorsement of Mankin for Congress in special election; succession amendment; Mankin's personal characteristics; political establishment; Wiley Moore; Bill Hartsfield; Mankin as political maverick; Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of Britain; campaign financing; establishment reaction to Mankin; authority to certify candidates changed from governor to Secretary of State; county unit system; Mankin's approach to politics; changing politics of South; Mankin as trailblazer; Jimmy Carter; blacks, women and equality.

 

Bacote, Clarence (P1977-03)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 25, 1977

19 pp.

 

A professor of History at Atlanta University, Bacote (1906-1981) also was active in black Atlanta politics of the 1940s, and headed the All‑Citizens Registration Committee of 1946.

SEE also Bacote interview in series O.

Among topics discussed: How Mankin gained support of black community in 1946 special election; Mankin's attendance at Butler Street YMCA election meetings; secret statement of black support for Mankin; work of blacks at polling places; county unit system; Mankin's write‑in vote; Morris Abram; Charles Weltner; Carl Sanders; Ellis Arnall; Mankin loses 1948 election; George Goodwin and black/white alliance; Everett Millican.

 

Berry, Sue Douglas and Margaret Keller Douglas (P1977-04)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

November 11, 1977

No Transcript

 

Sue Douglas Berry was a niece of Helen Douglas Mankin and sister to Hamilton Douglas, III.

Sue Douglas Berry and Margaret Keller Douglas were interviewed together.

Among topics discussed: Rockfort College and Douglas family tradition; Jane Adams and Hull House; family background; reason for family's move to South; Douglas family becomes Unitarian; significance of number "11" to Douglas family; Douglas family traits; Douglas family and Atlanta society; Mankin's first engagement; Red Cross button; Mankin's personality; Guy Mankin, Jr.'s relationship with Mankin; Mankin's will. Douglas family and Michigan Tech; Mankin's father; Mankin's broken engagement; Mankin and Catholicism; Mankin's death; Mankin's relationship with Guy Mankin, Sr.; Nancy Downing.

 

Bryant, Curtis (P1977-19)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 27, 1977

No Transcript

 

Bryant was once a co‑owner of Blue Heron Lake in south Fulton County with Helen and Guy Mankin and Jean and William Randolph Smith.

Among topics discussed: Bryant's relationship with Mankin; Mankin's behavior when she wanted something; details of joint property dispute; Mankin's religious views; Mankin's real estate investments; Guy Mankin, Sr.'s remarriage; Union City town legislation controversy; fire at lake property; Bryant's knowledge of the law; Bryant's opinion of Mankin; relationship between Bryant's wife and Mankin [Bryant's wife joins conversation at this point]. Bryant's differences with Mankin; the black vote; Bryant speaks against Mankin on radio; Bryant denies participation in political moves against Mankin; Tom and Lawrence Camp; Mankin's legal abilities; Bryant's wife discusses Mankin, Guy Mankin, Jr.'s wife, and Mankin's attitude.

 

Bullard, Helen (P1977-05)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 25, 1977

54 pp.

 

Helen Bullard was a political consultant and public relations specialist.

Among topics discussed: Bullard's relationship with Helen Mankin; Mankin's campaign photo; Hamilton Douglas; GradyHospital; cigarettes; Mankin's persona; Eleanor Roosevelt; 1946 election; 1948 election; Mankin's voting record; Robert Ramspeck; the race issue; Butler Street YMCA; black voter registration; "the Belle of Ashby Street"; the Atlanta press; Dorothy Rainey; Rebecca Gershon; Mankin's support of Israel; Josephine Wilkins; Congresswoman Blitch; Grace Hamilton; Ed White; 1946 campaign; Morris Abram; South v. Peters; race issue; Judge Davis; women's political prospects; creation of Israel; Everett Millican; baseball; Helen Mankin's personality; Guy Mankin; anti‑Catholicism; Mankin's competitive nature; Mankin's reaction to 1948 election loss; Hamilton Douglas, Jr.; William Hartsfield; the 1948 election; physical handicaps; George Stoney; John A. Griffin; Thomas Camp.

 

Camp, Tom (P1977-06)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

November 7, 1977

64 pp.

 

Tom Camp was an Atlanta Civil Court Judge from 1957‑1981 and a candidate for congress in the 5th district in 1946.

SEE also Camp interview in series B.

Among topics discussed: Mankin's campaign; Robert Ramspeck and "Pensions for Congress"; 1942 campaign between Ramspeck and Wells; Ellis Arnall's impact on Camp's 1946 campaign; impact of Ashby Street vote; Mankin as  demagogue; "Clubs for Camp"; Camp's interaction with black leaders; role of county unit system in Mankin's failure to win re‑election; Camp's political career; abolition of county unit system; Mankin's  record as congresswoman; Mankin's military service; Mankin's campaign.

 

Davis, James (P1977-18)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

November 11, 1977

33 pp.

 

James Davis (1895-1981) was a Democratic opponent to Helen Mankin in 1946 election; Superior Court Judge from 1943 to 1947; Fifth District Congressman 1947 to 1963;  and member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1925 to 1927.

Among topics discussed: Why Davis ran against Mankin; the black vote; Davis's connection to Judge Sheppard Bryan; Mankin's profanity; attitude toward Mankin; belief that Mankin wanted him out of office; reasons he finally lost to Weltner.

 

Downing, Nancy (P1977-07)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 23, 1977

No Transcript

 

Helen Mankin's goddaughter.

Among topics discussed: Mankin's "spring salute"; locomotive bell; Mankin's lake property fire; Rose, Sue and the electric fence; Curtis Bryant's dogs; the raft at the lake; Mankin and baseball; Mankin uses county gravel for lake driveway; Mankin's arrangement for school girls to sing for drunk Legionnaires; Mankin's generosity; women's attitudes toward Mankin; Mankin's style; relationship with Guy Mankin, Sr.; Mankin's black clients.

 

Goodwin Party (P1977-20)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 25, 1977

No Transcript

 

Recording of gathering at home of George Goodwin. Participants include James Mackay (1919-2004), George Goodwin (b. 1917), Bea Haas. James Mackay served in the Georgia House of Representatives 1951 to 1953 and 1955 to 1965, and as the 4th District U. S. Congressman from 1965 to 1967.  George Goodwin was a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Atlanta Journal and director of Central Atlanta Improvement Association.  Bea Haas was a key figure in the League of Women Voters in the 1940's.

SEE also Goodwin interview in series L,  Mackay interview in series B. Osgood Williams interview in Series B.

Among topics discussed: Jim Davis; Mankin's qualities; Mankin's rump committee; Robert Ramspeck; Davis's racial extremism; John Sammons Bell; Rooster Armisted; M. L. St. John; Murphy Candler; Larry McDonald; Georgia and the ERA; B. Brooks, editor of The Statesman, photographs Mankin at interracial meetings; George Stewart; Martin Luther King, Jr. and 1960 traffic offense which senthim to Reidsville prison; intercession of John and Robert Kennedy in King case; race issue during Mankin's campaigns; Dr. John Griffin; 1948 primary election; Everett Millican; Bert Lance; Abraham Ribicoff and mystery bank; Guy Mankin, Sr.; Mankin's interest in Israel; Margaret MacDougall; Guy Mankin, Sr.'s death; Curtis Bryant lake property dispute with Mankin; Ed White; Mankin's personality. Comparison of 1940s and 1970s Atlanta politics; James Davis election; Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter; Vernon Jordan; Mankin's courage; Charlie Brown; race‑baiters; Ellis Arnall; Ben Fortson; Robert Ramspeck; Jimmy Carter and spiritual recession in U.S.; Rodney Cook; 1946 special election; county unit system cases; Morris Abram;  women in Georgia politics; race and labor issues in Georgia politics in 1940s; race issue in legal proceedings; Wyche Fowler; race issue in politics in 1970s. Mankin's courage; Martin Luther King, Jr.; A. T. Walden; triple lynching in Walton County, Georgia; political courage; school closing issue; Mankin's role in race issue; 1946 special election.

 

 

Hamilton, Grace Towns (P1977-08)

Interviewed by: Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 26, 1977

No Transcript

 

Grace Hamilton (1907-1992) served as Director of the Atlanta Urban League, and served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1966 to 1985.

SEE also Hamilton interview in series E.

Among topics discussed: Hamilton's background; Helen Mankin election; black political participation; Hamilton's connection with NAACP; Arnall election; county unit system; Atlanta coalition engages in preventive social work; Atlanta Urban League founding and purpose; funding for Urban League; importance of Mankin's 1946 special election victory; funding for registration efforts; registration organization; the Bloody Second and other violence; Mankin and racial issues; Georgia Congressional Districts; John Lewis‑Wyche Fowler 1977 congressional election; women in politics; reasons for Mankin's appeal to blacks. Housing Secretary maps for redistricting; general atmosphere in Atlanta concerning transportation system; Jimmy  Carter's attention to cities; deterioration of eastern cities; significance of Mankin's election; Hamilton's run for election; Hamilton on Reapportionment Committee; funding for Mankin's campaigns.

 

Janus, Dr. & Mrs. Sidney O. (P1977-09)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

November 10, 1977

No Transcript

 

Atlanta Zionists who were active in Mankin's 1946 campaign.

Among topics discussed: Mankin's trip to Middle East; funding for trip; Mankin lectures to Christian groups about Israel; how Mankin became supporter of Israel; Mankin's views about Israel's existence; Mankin's characteristics; American Christian Palestine Committee (ACPC); Mankin and Guy Mankin, Sr.'s relationship; Mankin's use of profanities; women's rights and equality; question of whether Mankin represented her district.

 

Michel, Adolphe (P1977-10)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

November 9, 1977

No Transcript

 

Mankin's hairdresser with whom she had a barter arrangement for legal services.

Among topics discussed: Mankin assists in remodeling of Michael's new shop; Mankin and Michael's exchange arrangement; cases Mankin handled for Michael; Michael's financial difficulties; Nancy Downing; others for whom Mankin provided legal aid; Mankin's attitude about her appearance; Mankin's personality; Michael's political support for Mankin; Mankin's relationship with Guy Mankin, Sr. Mankin as paradox; how others felt about Mankin; Michael's feelings about Mankin; Michael's tax problems; Mankin's death; Hamilton Douglas, Jr.

 

Millican, Everett (P1977-11)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 30, 1977

33 pp.

 

Everett Millican (b. 1897) served as an Atlanta city Alderman and in the Georgia Senate, representing Fulton County from 1935‑1954.

Among topics discussed: Candidate support from country organization; Mankin as campaigner; Mankin's personality; Millican's friendship with Mankin; Sunday baseball and movies in Atlanta; women in the legislature and Mankin; Mankin's personality traits and the legislature; Atlanta city debt; Mankin reacts to loss in 1948; black influence in politics; constitutional amendment and county unit system; school closing issue; Ramspeck committee; write‑in campaign for Mankin; Guy Mankin, Sr.'s political support for Mankin; campaign funding; financial support for black leaders; Mankin's approach to politics; Mankin's behavior.

 

Rainey, Dorothy and Glenn Rainey (P1977-12, P1977-13)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

November 8, 1977

No Transcript

 

Dorothy Rainey was a prominent Atlanta liberal. Glenn Rainey (1907-1989) was a professor of English at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a prominent Atlanta liberal.

Dorothy Rainey and Glenn Rainey were interviewed together.

Among topics discussed: County unit system; election machine mechanical failure; James "Jamie" Mackay; DeKalb County demographics; Dorothy Rainey's speech in support of Mankin; Dorothy Rainey's speeches; Devereaux McClatchey; Karl Plunkitt. Mankin as pioneer and fighter; 5th District Executive Committee; reasons Tom Camp and other liberals would lose elections; Morris Abram; Josephine Wilkins; Earl Cook; Eleanor Raoul, suffragette; Lillian Smith; strategies of politicians on race issue; Jimmy Carter; Fifth District changes; Everett Millican as oil company spokesman and machine politician; Mankin's personality; Robert Ramspeck; Jeanette Rankin. 1944 Duckworth correspondence; KKK threats; E.D. Rivers; Helen Bullard; Wiley Moore; Macon convention; Henry Wallace; differences between Ellis Arnall and Talmadge; Mayor Hartsfield; county unit system; the black vote; Hartsfield as racist; Ivan Allen and racist material; black leadership in Atlanta; Atlanta blacks traditionally chose lesser of two evils in elections; Maynard Jackson; Andrew Young; benefits of having black mayor and black police chief; Hartsfield and the Freedom Train; Southern attitude and blacks; Rainey's avoidance from Talmadge college firings; lynching and Jessie Daniel Ames. Eugene Talmadge and the county unit system; Hal Davison Club; Ralph McGill's  support of Herman Talmadge; Tarlton Collier; Mankin's outspokenness and how she voted; interracial meetings; Southern Conference for Human Welfare; Jim Davis; Lillian Smith and politics; Ralph McGill; Tarlton Collier; Josephine Wilkins; Georgia Fact Finding Commission.

 

Smith, Jean Douglas (P1977-14)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 30, 1977

No Transcript

 

Mankin's youngest sister.

Among topics discussed: Douglas family residences; relationship with Mankin; Mankin and Jean Smith raising money in college; recreation at college; Mankin's money raising ideas; family background; move to Atlanta; Mankin's war service; Mankin and her real age; Mankin's broken first engagement; 1922 car trip across U.S.; Mankin's relationship with her family; Mankin's characteristics; Dr. Smith's (Jean Smith's husband) relationship with Mankin; Mankin's temperament; Smith's and Mankin's paths diverge; deaths in the family.

 

Stoney, George (P1977-15)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

June 21, 1977

No Transcript

 

Now a film maker and professor of film at New York University, Stoney (b. 1916) managed Mankin's 1946 campaign.

Among topics discussed: Maggie Fisher and Committee for Georgia; Southern Regional Council; Stoney's background; Survey Graphic; why Mankin won special election; Mankin's political astuteness; Horace Moore; Stoney as Mankin's campaign manager; Helen Bullard and political advertising; Mankin's behavior; Mankin speaks to police lineup; courting Atlanta Journal‑Constitution; Ralph McGill; Mankin's interactions with women and men; Mankin's relationship with Guy Mankin, Sr.; approach women often used to succeed in professions; Mankin's ability to relate to people; Mankin's campaigns and funding; Josephine Wilkins; the black vote; Stoney enters film business. Stoney's attitude towards Mankin's county unit system fight; Mankin's eye problems; Mankin's approach to politics.

 

Thompson, Robert (P1977-17)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

July 28, 1977

No Transcript

 

Thompson was industrial secretary of the Atlanta Urban League.

SEE also Thompson interview in series E.

Among topics discussed: Atlanta Urban League; black support for Mankin; strategy for 1946 black voter registration drive; racial tensions in 1948; housing situation for blacks; how Atlanta differs for blacks from other southern cities; importance of black businessmen for harmonious community relations; Thompson's opinion of Mankin.

 

Wood, Estelle Gaines (P1977-16)

Lorraine Nelson Spritzer

February 5, 1978

No Transcript

 

Mankin's press secretary in Washington, D.C.

Among topics discussed: Women at the Atlanta Journal‑Constitution during WW II; Mankin at "radical" social gathering; Josephine Wilkins; attempt to frame Mankin before grand jury; Mankin and Wood become friends; Mankin's personality and campaign skills; cross burnings in Atlanta; attempt to destroy ballots; Mankin's campaign headquarters and secret office; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Grace Hamilton; Helen Bullard; efforts to defeat Mankin; black vote; James Mackay; Washington, D.C.; Mankin's eye problems; Mankin's mail; problems for female legislators, assistants and lobbyists; Walter George; Harry Truman; Congress delays decision on Mankin's election. Mankin's death; 1946 election; Mankin's supporters.

 

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