The Museum Blog
Two years in the making, our Women of Wake Forest exhibit will open on March 23, 3013... giving us a chance to learn from the stories of local women of the past who made lasting contributions in civic leadership, business, philanthropy, education and the arts.
A partial list of those receiving this special recognition in our first class of inductees includes:
- Very popular with town residents and college students, Lib Greason served as assistant postmistress while raising a family and helping her famous husband, regional sports icon Murray Greason, WFC basketball coach from 1933-57. Among those who led the social scene in Wake Forest, Lib moved with the college to Winston-Salem where she worked as executive asssistant to the dean and assistant deans of the college.
- Daughter of prominent African American educator Allen Young, Ailey Mae Young was born in Wake Forest and became a noted teacher and community leader. She also made a lasting mark in politics, paving the way for equal representation of women and minorities by becoming only the second woman and first African American to serve on the Wake Forest Town Commission.
- As longtime editor of the Wake Weekly, journalist Peggy Allen spent more than half a century covering the town's news. Along with her husband, Bob Allen, Peggy was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006.
The full exhibit will extend the length of the north wall of the Nancy Cullom Harris Auditorium, where photographs, documents and artifacts will bring to life the personalities and achievements of each individual honored. New members will be inducted biennially, and we encourage museum visitors to review nomination guidelines and submit the names of women who've made local history.
As part of the official unveiling, and in keeping with our funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, the museum will hold a public forum to screen the new film, Remembering Wake Forest: Women from the East End and Mill Village. Following the film, southern history scholar Emily Herring Wilson (WFU '62) will lead a group discussion with panelists Joyce Davis, Evelyn Jones and Geraldine Hall-Taylor, all of whom appear in the film and were interviewed for the project.
The event... from 10am to noon on Saturday, March 23, 2013... is free and open to the public. It will also include distribution of an original brochure featuring archival images and information pertaining to the exhibit. (A pair of panels from the tri-fold brochure appear on the left.)
If you are interested in attending, please contact Executive Director Ed Morris at 919-556-2911 or email email@example.com.
This project is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Some stories reach right out, grab you, and won't let you go. Stories like the one Geraldine Hall-Taylor told about going up the fire escape behind the movie theater as a child, so she could see films from the balcony reserved for "colored" audiences. She was afraid of heights and climbed the stairs with her hands on each step. Descending when the show was over, she sat carefully and plopped down the stairs on her bottom.
The Wake Forest Historical Museum is very fortunate to have received a generous grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council to record the oral histories of three local women who grew up in town many years ago and can describe what life was like. Noted women's history researcher and author Emily Herring Wilson kindly conducted the interviews, posing questions that were both insightful and senstive. Together with our subjects, Emily created a vibrant historical record that will deepen our understanding of the reality women and girls experienced in the Town of Wake Forest dating back nearly a century.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these histories is the role played by mothers and grandmothers in imparting strength and wisdom... and a strong urge to succeed... in the young girls who were growing up in their care. A perfect example comes from Evelyn Jones, who recalled a memorable saying from her mother. It came almost in the form of marching orders, a demand to be something more than humble, quiet and demure. It was an expectation that Evelyn would hold her head high, show her intelligence, and never back away from a fight. "I don't take back. I don't get back. No further than I will knock back. And ain't nobody going to knock me back."
A similar fighting spirit was found in Joyce Davis, who was born in 1917 in the mill village and also recalled a mother who made education, strength, morality and intelligence the most important aspects of her upbringing. As the child of a working class couple, Joyce took competitive pride in outperforming the sons of Wake Forest College professors in the classrooms at her public school. And to underscore her dedication to education, she still has her grade school primer, a book issued by the state of North Carolina and filled with words and information young children in the 1920s were expected to read, repeat and memorize.
The chance to learn from these women is an amazing opportunity for the museum and broader Wake Forest community. It is our honor to help preserve their stories for posterity. Thanks to the NCHC, we will be able to add their interviews to our full documentary film collection held in the Susan Powell Brinkley Library. Edited versions will be screened at a public forum on March 23rd and eventually utilized in a storytelling display associated with the new Women's History exhibit.