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Georgia Women's Movement Oral History Project: O

A guide to the Georgia Women's Movement Oral History Project collection.

Oakley, Mary Ann

Interviewee: Mary Ann Oakley
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: August 21, 2005
Extent: 1 audio cassette; 1 compact disc; 43 pages


Atlanta based lawyer Mary Ann B. Oakley has dedicated her life and career to changing and enforcing the law to improve the rights of women and minorities through her work on behalf of reproductive rights, children’s rights and employment law. Her professional activities have ranged from chairing the State Board of Bar Examiners and the Investigative Panel of the State Bar, to presiding over fundraising for the Georgia Legal Services Program. She began her career in private practice, ultimately becoming a partner in several firms, including Holland and Knight in Atlanta.

During her many years as an employment lawyer, she spent countless hours in the courtroom fighting for the rights of employees. Oakley has been an integral part of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Guardian ad Litem program, and has appeared regularly in court pro bono on behalf of children in the middle of some of the most challenging custody and visitation cases the program sees. She was listed among the Best Lawyers in America for close to two decades, among numerous honors. Oakley earned a master’s degree from the Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory in 1970, and her juris doctor degree from Emory Law School in 1974.

Mary Ann Oakley begins her interview by describing her childhood experiences growing up first in Waynesboro, Virginia and then in Greenville, North Carolina.  She explains how she was able to fund her education at Duke University and describes her experiences at that institution.  She then recalls moving to Seattle with her husband, where she became involved with the National Organization for Women.  She believes that her study of Elizabeth Cady Stanton played an important role in instigating her involvement in the women’s movement.  Oakley describes moving back to Atlanta and details a number of her legal cases. 


Olson, Anne

Interviewee: Anne Olson
Interviewer: Amanda Brown 
Date of Interview: April 22,2005
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 31 page transcript

Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: November 9, 2007
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 47-page transcript

Anne Olson was born in Madison Wisconsin in 1934. She received a BS in nutrition from the University of Oklahoma (1956), completed a dietetic internship at the University of Michigan (1956-1957) and earned her MS in dietary administration from the University of Kansas (1962). From 1962 to 1967, Olson was an instructor in nutrition at Emory University's School of Nursing, as well as, in 1965, serving as nutritionist for Quaker House's Project Headstart. In 1974, she became a marketing consultant for the Florida Department of Citrus and from 1974 until her retirement in 1999, she was an administrator in School/Community Nutrition for Georgia's Department of Education. Olson has had a long-standing interest in feminist and human rights issues: She has been an active participant in a number of community organizations, including the Dekalb League of Women Voters (1966-1968) and The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (1969-1972). She belonged to the International Association of Religious Freedom and the International Association of Liberal Religious Women (1987); was a founding member of Atlanta’s Charis Circle (1996-1998); and served as the co-chair of Human Rights Atlanta (1998-1999). Currently Olson is involved with the Georgia Living Wage Campaign, as well as the Atlanta Living Wage Campaign. Olson has enjoyed a long relationship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, beginning in 1971, when she served on the Board of Directors of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation (1983-1989), and has served in various positions for the Thurman Hamer Ellington Unitarian Universalist Church, Atlanta (1994-1999).
Abstract (April 22,2005)
Olson cites one of her earliest influential events as being the time she “…got a bicycle. I must have been 10 or so. I then had access to the public library. That’s when I started reading and becoming a really avid reader.” One of only three women of her University of Oklahoma pledge class who graduated instead of leaving to marry, she describes being frustrated with her work in dietetics, and so went on to get a graduate degree in Dietary Administration. Soon after graduating in 1962, she was married with two children and living in Atlanta. It was at this time, she says, that Virginia Wolfe’s books became important to her, and, in an effort to “get out of the house” she joined the League of Women Voters, and got onto the Board of Directors in DeKalb County. Through the League of Women Voters’ Voter Registration Drive, Olson says she became involved with the Voter Education Project and the Civil Rights Movement. Olson recounts that her interest in the Equal Rights Amendment was piqued while she was chair of the Public Issues Committee at the Unitarian Universalist Church. She discusses the democratization of her church and her push for removing sexism within the church, and encouraging women-centered curriculum. Olson states that at about the same time as her 1974 divorce, she became involved in Charis Circle, and began reading and discussing the feminist texts which led to a deeper understanding of her place in the world. This, combined with her earlier civil rights work, and work with the Unitarian Church led to her growing interest in human rights issues. She talks about her involvement with various human rights groups, including the Georgia Citizens’ Coalition on Hunger, the Atlanta Living Wage Campaign, Amnesty International and the Gustav Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. She believes feminism is alive and well, and that we now need to also consider racism and classism.

Abstract (November 9, 2007)
Anne Olson begins her second oral history by again reviewing her childhood experiences and her education.  She talks about her training in Diatetics and how that has affected her contributions to the Women’s Movement.  Olson then moves on to discuss her work in various positions as a nutritionist and her work with the Unitary Universalist Congregation.  She ends by discusses her current work and how she views the progress of the women’s movement.

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Oral Histories at GSU

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