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Georgia Women's Movement Oral History Project: R

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

Richardson, Eleanor

Interviewee: Eleanor Richardson
Interviewer: Jannet Paulk
Date of Interview: July 12, 1999
Extent: 1 audio cassette; 1 compact disc; 28 page transcript

Eleanor Low Richardson, born in Everett, Massachusetts in 1913, graduated from high school and completed one year of secretarial school. After working in Boston for an insurance company, Richardson moved to the Atlanta area and has been a Decatur resident for over 25 years. She died in February 2006. During her time in the Atlanta area, Richardson participated in women's advocacy and politics. She served as the president of the League of Women Voters of Georgia and DeKalb County and as a Democratic representative of DeKalb County in the Georgia House of Representatives (1975-1990). During her time in office, Richardson's legislative priorities included health issues, the elimination of laws that discriminate against women and the elderly, and tax relief for the elderly. She was chair of the Community Development Advisory Council of the Atlanta Regional Commission, the DeKalb County Community Relations Commission, Georgians for Quality Education, and the Church Women United of Georgia and DeKalb County. She also served as board member of several organizations including the Metropolitan Area Mental Health Association, DeKalb Community Council on Aging, the Mountain View Rest Home, and the Georgia Council on Moral and Civic Concerns. Richardson was appointed to the Governor's Council on Mental Health and Retardation Special Study Committees on Troubled Children, the DeKalb County Advisory Council (Chairman), and the Central DeKalb Community Mental Health/Mental Retardation Advisory Council. Because of her extensive work in church and civic groups, Richardson received several awards honoring her contributions to the community: She received the Woman of Achievement Award from Decatur Business and Professional Women in 1976; the Leading Ladies of Atlanta J.C. Singles Award in 1977; the Friend of Children from the Child Advocacy Coalition (1977-80); and the Valiant Woman Award from Church Women United in 1977.
Richardson begins by recounting her childhood in Medford, Massachusetts. She states that her earliest foray into activism was prior to the development of the Women’s Movement, when she joined the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She went on to join the League of Women Voters, and to become president of DeKalb and then Georgia’s League. She states that it was during her tenure of the DeKalb League of Women Voters that she was urged by a friend to run for the vacant seat in the Georgia General Assembly. Focusing on issues relating to women, children and the elderly, Richardson remained in the legislature until 1990, at which time, she recalls, she had stopped “being patient with people." Richardson discusses her personal efforts and experiences in working toward the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Georgia. She feels that the Women’s Movement has accomplished a great deal, including the election of more women elected officials and the formation of important women’s groups, such as the Georgia Commission on Women.

Riddle, Mary

Interviewee: Mary Riddle
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: July 24, 2004
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 45 page transcript

Mary Riddle was born in 1949 in Etowah, Tennessee. Her family later settled in Dalton, Georgia. She attended Mercer University in Macon and, after moving to Atlanta in 1970, attended Georgia State University on a part-time basis. She received her BA in English in 1975, and her Law degree in 1988. Riddle has been a proofreader for the Office of General Counsel (1973-1974), served on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1976-1985), and since 1990, has been an attorney, drafting bills for the Office of Legislative Counsel. Riddle began her involvement in the Women’s Movement by joining Georgians for the Equal Rights Amendment (GERA). She then joined NOW, which she served in a number of ways: She was executive vice president of Atlanta NOW and member of DeKalb NOW, and recorder/archivist for Georgia NOW after the defeat of the ERA. In 1983 she was voted Feminist of the Year by Atlanta NOW. Along with Janet Paulk, she was co-coordinator for ERA for the Universalist Unitarian Congregation of Atlanta.
Riddle recounts a childhood in which she and her family moved around a great deal. She says that her earliest feminist activity was to run for a high school office, with the slogan, “Not the best man for the job, the best candidate.” She remembers becoming very interested in feminism in the early 1970s, at which time, while working and studying in Atlanta, she read Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique, and the newly circulating Ms magazine. Riddle states that her work proofreading for the Legislative Council whetted her appetite for the study of law, and that when she became involved in the Equal Rights Amendment, it was the legal aspects of amendment that interested her. She recounts that she first became involved with the ERA when she read a Creative Loafing ad for a Georgians for the Equal Rights meeting. She says “GERA was this funny little group mostly made up of Socialist Workers Party people…And there were times when I thought that a lot of the women at GERA were more interested in the Socialist Workers Party than the ERA.” Riddle goes on to describe the efforts of the “Bathroom Caucus” of GERA -- members who wanted to make GERA more ERA-focused. After those efforts failed, she became more involved with NOW, UUCA and ERA Georgia, Inc. She describes a number of the marches, debates and events that she attended as part of those groups. Riddle discusses the women in Women’s Movement that she most admired, and cites Martha Gaines as being important because she could “focus on the goals and continue to keep moving towards the goals, even past the irritations, and the rivalries and the disagreements about tactics.” Finally, Riddle talks about issues that are important to women today, the most important of which is reproductive rights.

Rogers, Joy

Interviewee: Joy Rogers
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: October 27, 2006
Extent: 3 audio cassettes; 3 compact discs; 75-page transcript



Joy Rogers is the Business Development Executive for IBM services in the State of Georgia, responsible for the sales and marketing of both information technology and management consulting services to businesses. In her 30 year career with IBM, she has held a variety of marketing, business development, sales, and customer support positions.  She managed IBM services for Wall Street brokerage firms in Manhattan, was the Director for Customer Support for midrange systems in Rochester, MN, Director of Service Support in Kansas City, MO, and Client Solution Executive for strategic outsourcing engagements. Prior to joining IBM, she was a member of the economic staff of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta, GA and Director of the Atlanta Head Start Program serving 1000 children.

Rogers graduated from University of Alabama with a BA degree in Economics and minors in History and French. She completed her MBA with a concentration in International Business at Georgia State University and was active in AIESEC, International Association of Students in Economics and Commerce, at both universities.  She served as the President of the Chapter at GSU as well as National Conference Chair.  She currently serves on the Board of Advisors for AIESEC-Georgia Tech. 

Her overseas work experience include assignments with Charterhouse Japhet, a merchant bank in London, England, Leminkainen Oy, a manufacturing company in Helsinki, Finland and INet, a computer services firm in Skopje, Macedonia.


Rooks, Judith

Interviewee: Judith Rooks
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: April 26, 2004
Extent: 3 audio cassettes; 3 compact discs; 79 page transcript

Judith Rooks was born in Spokane, Washington in 1941. Her father was a surgeon in the army reserves during WWII, and her mother was a nurse. She attended the University of Washington where she received a B.S. in nursing in 1963. Rooks married after graduation and then moved to Washington, D.C. where, in 1964, she began working as a nurse at the Clinical Center (part of the National Institute of Health). While in D.C. her husband was sent to Vietnam and during his absence Rooks pursued her graduate degree in nursing at the Catholic University of America. During the late 1960s, after moving back to the west coast, Rooks worked on the weekends at San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury Free Medical Center. The couple moved to Atlanta when Rook’s husband took a job at Emory University Hospital. Once in Atlanta, Rooks became head of a Georgia Citizens for Hospital abortions, an organization which fought to get the Georgia abortion laws changed. In addition to her activism, Rooks also worked for the CDC (Center for Disease Control) as an epidemiologist in the Family Planning Evaluation Division where she uncovered revealing statistics regarding the disparity between black and white women who were allowed to have “legal abortions” prior to the change in the state laws. This research was used in the Doe v Bolton case which challenged Georgia’s abortion laws.  She has continued to work as an epidemiologist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as the Principal Investigator for the National Birth Center Study at Columbia University. Rooks authored numerous publications about family planning, and women’s health, as well as being an expert in the field of midwifery. She has also been the recipient of numerous honorary awards including the Martha May Eliot Award for exceptional service to mothers and children, in 1993; the Hattie Hemschemeyer Award for continuous contributions to nurse-midwifery and maternal and child healthcare, in 1998; and the National Perinatal Associations’ National Award for Outstanding Contribution to Maternal and Child Health in 1999.
Rooks describes her childhood during WWII. The daughter of a doctor and a nurse, she believed that aside from teaching, nursing was the only occupation a woman could pursue. Graduating from the University of Washington in 1963, Rooks married in 1964, and went on to earn a graduate degree in nursing at Catholic University of America. She describes her early professional experiences, and says that her interest in reproductive rights began when, teaching at San Jose State University, she assigned students to research the effects of illegal abortions on Mexican agricultural workers. Rooks says that she became politically involved with reproductive rights through the Georgia Citizens for Hospital Abortion. She discusses the abortion laws and their realities in Georgia, especially for poor women, who made up the majority of those seeking illegal abortions, and goes on to describe her experiences in getting support for legislation that would change the existing laws. She describes her committee’s failed attempts to get the new legislation passed, after which, she says, she held a press conference on the steps of the Capitol and declared, “because the Georgia legislature has turned its back on the health needs of Georgia women, my committee will establish a counseling center to provide information and arrange legal abortions in Washington, D.C. or New York for Georgia women who could not access necessary health services in Georgia.” Rooks goes on to describe the committee’s efforts to assist women in getting safe abortions. She believes that it was her pro-choice activism that resulted in her being turned down for a job in the school of nursing at Georgia State University, and she recounts her aborted contract signing to illustrate this. Rooks went on to work at the CDC where, in her research into the epidemiology of family planning, she began gathering statistics on legal and illegal abortions. She talks about the Georgia Citizens for Hospital Abortion committee’s decision to bring a suit to challenge the abortion law on the books as unconstitutional, and describes in detail the work that went in to the Doe v Bolton case, and the people involved, including Margie Pitts Hames who argued the case in the Supreme Court. Rooks talks about her book, Midwifery and Childbirth in America, and goes on to discuss the history of midwifery in the United States. She talks about her move to the Pacific Northwest with her second husband, and about the work she has undertaken since then, both nationally and internationally. She finishes by describing what she considers the most important accomplishments of the Women’s Movement: "My life would be totally different without it. The freedom of contraception, the freedom of abortion, the ability to have informed education and consent for your health care…The whole world is changing because of the strengths of women."

Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives

Oral Histories at GSU

Donna Novak Coles Georgia Women's Movement Archives

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