Interviewee: Eleanor Babcock
Interviewer: Amanda Brown
Date of interview: April 19, 2004
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 42 page transcript
Eleanor Hope Crisler Babcock, born in 1931 in Atlanta, Georgia, has worked as a homemaker, substitute teacher, mortgage loan counselor, and insurance claims clerical supervisor. In addition to membership in various women's rights organizations, she has been an active member of the Georgia Conservancy, the Georgia Harmony Barbershop Chorus, and the United Methodist Church. Active throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s in Georgia People of Faith for ERA, Housewives for ERA (HERA), the Georgia chapter of NOW, and ERA Georgia, Inc., Babcock also lobbied Georgia legislators and marched in Washington, D.C. in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Babcock has written a book, Yellow Topaz: A Historical Memoir, about her own life experiences.
Babcock begins by describing her loving yet turbulent childhood in Atlanta, Georgia. The child of an alcoholic father, she spent her teenage years in foster care which, she recounts, was a very positive experience. Babcock says that she took her first job (at an insurance company) straight out of high school, went on to marry and have children, and that it wasn't until her youngest child was a teenager that she began to consider her role as a woman. She recounts her attempts to get a credit card in her own name, and the lengths she had to go to in order to do so. At about the same time, and fueled by growing desire to find her own identity, Babcock says she went back to college, graduating from Draughn Business College and studying business at Marietta Area Vocational School, and going on to work for several banks. Babcock says that her earliest experience with the Women's Movement was when she joined a local chapter of NOW. She then went on to join People of Faith for ERA, and participated in marches and protests around the state, as well as attending national conferences. She discusses the women's organization's leaders who inspired her, and books that have spoken to her. A very spiritual person, Babcock describes issues that have arisen in her own Methodist Church, including the question of homosexual clergy.
Interviewee: Sarah Butler
Interviewer: Sue Millen
Date of inteview: October 23, 2004
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 37 page transcript
Sarah Butler was born in Atlanta, Georgia. The fourth of six children, her mother was a homemaker and her father was a barber. She graduated from the Girl's High School of Atlanta in 1939, and later attended Georgia Evening College, leaving in 1949 to marry Bob Butler. Butler had two children, and quit her work at Sears Roebuck to take care of them. Once the children were grown, Butler began her 18-year association with the labor movement, and in particular, the AFL-CIO. A member of the Office and Professional Employees Union, Butler was also involved with ERA Georgia, Inc., NOW, AARP, Southwest Atlantans for Progress, her PTA, and the Democratic Party. While her husband was president of the Atlanta Labor Council, she served as the secretary of the council. Soon after she retired, Butler was inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame. She was also honored as Woman of the Year in the Labor Movement. She now lives in Gainesville, Georgia.
Butler talks about her childhood in Atlanta, and her parents' activism -- her father in the Barber's Association and her mother in school and community affairs. She says that she worked at Sears Roebuck between 1939 and 1949, leaving to have her first child. She describes discriminatory practices at Sears, and says that once she became pregnant and began wearing maternity dresses, she was removed from a public position to the personnel office where nobody could see me."" Butler stayed at home with her two children until her son was in 11th grade. At this time, she states, she was invited to work for the Georgia AFL-CIO as a secretary. She remained with the organization for 18 years. She describes her experiences in the labor movement, and her efforts to convey information about the Equal Rights Amendment to the labor community, and in particular to her own union, the OPEIU (Office and Professional Employees International Union). She also talks about her work (with the AFL-CIO) on Jimmy Carter's failed reelection campaign, and subsequent efforts organizing his papers. Butler and her husband were long-term advocates for civil rights, and members of SWAP (Southwest Atlantans for Progress). She discusses some of the work they undertook to bring about integration and equality within their neighborhoods and the labor movement. She also talks about her volunteer, AARP and feminist activities in Gainesville GA, and in particular, her response to local pro-life activities. Butler ends by telling women, we are going to have to stay alert, we're going to have to stay on top of things, and we're going to have to keep the right people in Washington and locally too.
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