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Oral History Interview with Gladys Avery Tillett, March 20, 1974. Interview G-0061. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Gladys Avery Tillett was born in Morganton, North Carolina, in 1891. The daughter of a progressive thinker and state supreme court justice, Tillett grew up in a family where education was of paramount importance. She attended the Women's College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) during the early 1910s. Tillett describes her experiences in Greensboro, focusing on the strong role models she found in her professors. Tillett describes how the faculty and students at the Women's College strongly advocated for the suffrage movement. In addition, she describes her tenure as student government president, in which position she lobbied for more freedom and responsibilities for the women students. After graduating, Tillett worked as a teacher and continued to participate in social reform activities before earning a second degree at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1917. That same year, she became a war bride and spent the next several years with her husband on army bases in the South. In 1920, Tillett and her husband returned to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she gave birth to their two children. Shortly thereafter, Tillett helped to organize a local chapter of the League of Women Voters in Charlotte. As the president of that local chapter, Tillett worked to register women voters, attempt to motivate them to participate in politics, and provide information about candidates running for office. Tillett also briefly served as the state president of the League. By the early 1930s, the experience Tillett had gained working with the League earned her recognition at the state level, and she became involved in the North Carolina Democratic Party, serving on the State Executive Committee. In 1932, Tillett became involved in the national Democratic Party, first as a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention. She became the state party's vice chairman in 1934, and helped organize the Speakers' Bureau of the Democratic National Committee with Molly Dewson during the 1936 presidential campaign. In 1940, Tillett became the head of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee and also was elected as the committee's vice chairman. Tillett remained in that post for ten years, resigning in 1950 to campaign for Frank Porter Graham's senatorial bid.
  • The Women's College and its support of the women's movement and suffrage
  • Social life for women students and student government advocacy for greater freedom
  • Women students supporting the suffrage movement
  • Experiences as a wartime bride
  • Duties as the first president of the League of Women Voters in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Membership of the League of Women Voters and its goals during the 1920s
  • First woman elected to state executive committee and the state Democratic Party chair
  • Becoming head of the women's division of the Democratic Party
  • Working on the Frank Porter Graham senatorial campaign in 1950
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Women in politics
  • Democratic Party (N.C.)
  • Women--Suffrage--North Carolina
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.