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Activist Women Oral History Project: S

Saliers, Emily

Interviewee: Emily Saliers
Interviewer: Natalia Bowdoin
Date of Interview: September 26, 2011
Extent: 2 compact discs; 1 DVD; 55-page transcript



Emily Saliers was born in 1963 in New Haven, Connecticut.  She moved to Georgia at age 9, where her father Don Saliers became a professor of theology at Emory University.   She began her post-secondary education at Tulane University before transferring to Emory University, where she and Amy Ray formed the band The Indigo Girls in 1985.

Saliers begins her oral history by briefly recalling her childhood, including her reaction to the transition from living in the North to living in the South.  Additionally, she explains how her upbringing and her parents’ political views influenced her own view of the world around her.  After describing her experiences in college, both at Tulane and at Emory, she highlights a number of major influences on her musical career, including the work of singer/songwriter Cris Williamson. She describes the many different elements of her activism, including environmental and LGBT issues, and then talks about her religious beliefs, including her collaboration on a book with her father (A Song to Sing, a Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice).  Saliers ends by talking about her experiences in the music and film industries, as well as her relationship with the South.   

Scott, Kay

Interviewee: Kay Scott
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: December 2, 2010
Extent: 2 compact discs; 1 DVD; 51-page transcript

Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: June 23, 2011
Extent: 2 compact discs; 1 DVD; 44-page transcript


Kay Scott was born in Oklahoma in 1944. She attended Mercy Hospital School of Nursing and worked in healthcare as early as age 15. Scott worked in a women’s health clinic in a Model Cities project in Texas and attended the UCLA School of Medicine before starting at Planned Parenthood in Austin, Texas in 1976. She moved to Atlanta in 1980 where she worked for Planned Parenthood Southeast until 2012. Scott has been a longtime supporter of family planning, the women’s movement, and reproductive rights.

*Scott was still working for Planned Parenthood Southeast in 2010 when this interview was conducted.

Abstract, December 2, 2010:
Kay Scott begins by talking about her childhood in Oklahoma. She lived with her grandmother for five years before moving back with her parents and attending school in Oklahoma City. Scott began working in a hospital at age 15, and she speaks about how her experiences there affected her.  She went to nursing school but was denied entrance to medical school because of her gender. She talks about her family life, having been married with two sons and later divorced. She discusses her work with the Model Cities Project and women’s clinic before moving to Planned Parenthood in Austin, Texas and eventually Atlanta, Georgia. She also discusses several activist issues important to her, including feminism, abortion rights, family planning and the recent shift to reproductive justice.

Abstract, June 23, 2011:
In her second interview, Kay Scott talks about her time working at Planned Parenthood in Atlanta. She describes why she chose to come to Atlanta, what the city was like when she started, and how the experience was different from the Planned Parenthood in Austin, Texas. She talks about the importance of lobbying and advocacy, as well as day to day healthcare for women. She discusses expanding with centers outside the perimeter in Cobb and Gwinnett, and the reactions they received in those communities. She also discusses the structure and changes within Planned Parenthood, merging with the East Central Georgia Planned Parenthood to become Planned Parenthood of Georgia and then with Planned Parenthood of Alabama to become Planned Parenthood Southeast. Scott also talks about important Supreme Court cases including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, Hodgson v. Minnesota, and Wal-Mart v. Dukes, and how these rulings affected her cause. Scott also shares some very moving stories of personal experiences with the organization.

Simonds, Wendy

Interviewee: Wendy Simonds
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of interview:

Dr. Wendy Simonds received her Ph.D. in Sociology from City University of New York in 2009. She has been at GSU since 1996. She is currently working on team-based discourse analyses of sex educational resources for older adults and medical literature that discusses older adults’ sexualities and sex lives. She plans to expand this research into a book project (with Dr. Elisabeth Burgess) that will explore: medical service providers’ communication practices regarding sexual topics with older adult clients; the barriers to and facilitators of effective communication about sexual subjects; and interventions that could improve providers’ communication skills in this area.

Dr. Simonds’s book Hospital Land USA: Sociological Adventures in Medicalization (Routledge 2017) analyzes the wide-reaching powers of medicalization: the dynamic processes by which medical authorities, institutions, and ideologies impact our everyday experiences, culture, and social life. Simonds documents her own Hospital Land adventures and draws on a wide range of U.S. cultural representations–from memoirs to medical mail, from hospital signs to disaster movies–in order to urge critical thinking about conventional notions of care, health, embodiment, identity, suffering, and mortality.

Much of Simonds’ previous research centers on the sociology of procreative experiences. She is coauthor (with Barbara Katz Rothman and Bari Meltzer Norman) of Laboring On: Birth in Transition in the United States (Routledge, 2007), author of Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic (Rutgers, 1996) and co-author (with Barbara Katz Rothman) of Centuries of Solace: Expressions of Maternal Grief in Popular Literature (Temple, 1992). She has collaborated with researchers at the Population Council, which sponsored the U.S. clinical trials of mifepristone, conducting interviews with users and health care workers who participated in the trials.  She has published articles on how mifepristone, as an oral abortion method, affects the ways in which people talk, think about, and experience abortion. Another project examines how providers and users of emergency contraception describe their experiences, and their view of emergency contraception as it relates to procreative decision-making.


Smith, Margo

Interviewee: Margo Smith
Interviewer: Hilary Morrish
Date of Interview: January 19, 2011
Extent: 2 compact discs; 1 DVD; 52-page transcript


Margo Smith was born as the youngest of five siblings in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1950. She studied at University of Massachusetts in Amherst in the 1970s, and graduated with honors with a major in Physical Education and a minor in Women’s Studies. Upon graduation, Smith went to work for the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women’s Groups. After moving to Atlanta in 1982, she worked as the executive director for the Association on Battered Women of Clayton County. She later held the position of Executive Director for the Georgia Network Against Domestic Violence. Smith went back to school at Georgia State University in 1994 to get her masters in Urban Studies with a concentration in Human Resources, while simultaneously working as the director of the Southeast Women’s Employment Coalition, and the interim director of the Women’s Resource Center.  Smith then served as the Director of Development for the Atlanta Women’s Foundation. She later worked for the Trust for Public Land, Heifer International, and CARE, the international agency working to end poverty and empower women through social change.

 Margo Smith begins her oral history with a brief description of her childhood, and goes on to discuss her post-secondary education at Ohio State and University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She then describes her experiences with the Association on Battered Women of Clayton County and the challenges of dealing with domestic violence as well as the root of the problem. She discusses her involvement with the Georgia Network Against domestic Violence and the goals she had for her work with domestic violence. After talking about earning her degree from Georgia State University, she describes her jobs with the Atlanta Women’s foundation, Heifer International, and the Trust for Public Land. Smith ends by discussing her other passions including the environment, her work with CARE, and by giving advice on how to end the cycle of domestic violence.

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