“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it rightside up again.” So said Sojourner Truth more than 150 years ago.
Since Atlanta’s founding also more than 150 years ago, her women have been working hard to turn their world rightside up. They’ve created hospital programs, taught English to refugees, and solicited the help of their husbands to create better lives for their neighbors.
They’ve fostered political debate and promoted racial desegregation, created playgrounds and community centers, and laid the groundwork for programs that would impact the health and welfare of Atlanta’s children for years to come.
Women from Atlanta’s many ethnic, religious, and racial minorities have contributed to the welfare of their city, and none more actively than the women of Atlanta’s Jewish community.
They were suffragettes and teachers, secretaries and social workers,volunteers and air traffic controllers, and they changed the way we live and work, and care for each other, in ways beyond measure.
Rhoda Kaufman went to work for Georgia Board of Public Welfare in 1920, and became Executive Secretary of the Welfare Department. Through her efforts the department gained the reputation of being the most progressive in reform efforts in the United States. In the 1920s she was vilified by the Ku Klux Klan in their efforts to abolish the Welfare Department. She was named Woman of the Year in Social Welfare in 1943.
During the 1930s, Josephine Joel Heyman conducted Tuesday night classes to teach Holocaust refugees English. When the Association of Southern women for the Prevention of Lynching expanded, she became an active member, and in the 1940’s she was one of five women founders of the United Nations Association of Atlanta. She and her friend, Eleanor Raoul Greene, started the DeKalb County chapter of the League of Women Voters. In the 1960’s, she turned her efforts to promoting racial desegregation.
Evelyn Greenblatt Howren became a member of the first all-women’s squadron of the Civil Air Patrol in 1941, and the next year was one of the first class of women Air Traffic controller trainees. She was in the first class of WASPs (Women’s Air Service Pilots) and worked through World War II, ferrying planes or test flying various types of aircraft. On her return to civilian life she became a flight instructor and in 1947 established Flightways, Inc. In 1968 the company, one of a handful in the nation where flight-operations were managed by a woman, was sold to Lockheed.
… just a few of Atlanta’s Jewish women, changing the way we live and work, and care for each other, in ways beyond measure.
Research and Background Provided by:
1440 Spring Street, NW Atlanta, GA 30309 678-222-3700
Sandra Berman, Archivist
Images courtesy of The Breman.
Quilt is the artistic creation of Pat Pugrant and Ellen Rosintosky for The Breman.