University Library News
Georgia State University

“How happy I was when working for women’s rights”

We recently received a message from Margaret Curtis recounting the strange experience of seeing, for the first time, a thirty year old photo of herself from our collections. Curtis’s email, about the joys of activism and pains of defeat, is a moving reminder of the importance of the lives and stories preserved in our collections. I hope you’ll come out to our upcoming Fighting for Lady Liberty event and exhibit to learn more about the local women who fought to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in Georgia. Curtis has graciously allowed us to share her message (below):

I had a surreal experience yesterday. I received a copy of the GSU annual report, which Dan opened first. He showed me a photo and I asked who it was. “You,” he said, and I said that couldn’t be right. I was quite sure that wasn’t me, but I recognized the locket, which I always wore because it had the pictures of our two granddaughters in it.

 I realized that what made the photo so unlike me was that the woman in the photo was obviously very happy. The ERA had not been defeated yet because the bottom of the photo showed that it had been made in 1981. I definitely remembered how happy I was when working for women’s rights and realized I had not been anything like as happy since then. 

I had never seen the photo before so am amazed that you had it in your archives. I felt so grateful to have a look back and to remember the person I used to be, and also to have had the opportunity to do something that was so obviously good for my soul. I guess the defeat of the ERA was a sort of loss of innocence for me. I found it unbelievable that by defeating it, Americans were saying that it is OK to take what a person has a right to away from them on the basis of their gender […]

 Thanks for giving me a trip back in time, when I was having the time of my life. 

With love and gratitude,