Woman in the Wet T-Shirt could be an Historian!

August 8, 2016 Deborah Wilbrink

Rebecca Price leaned over her coffee cup, eyes shining, as we spoke about a key suffragette who worked for the vote in Tennessee, Lizzie Crozier French. A national museum professional who founded the non-profit Chick History in Nashville in 2015, Price’s passion is telling the whole story.

Half of every great story has not been told. Women’s history is all around us, we just have to dig it out and put it back in place…one story at a time. – R. Price

In the early 1970s I, “Debbie” at that time, was at the University of Georgia studying film and journalism. There was no program in women’s studies yet, but there were classes and I took them all. Most memorable was Contemporary Women’s History. When I presented my idea for the final paper, to participate in Athens’ first Wet T-Shirt Contest and write about it, my professor approved. I became the woman in the wet-shirt, winning the contest by applause-o-meter. I was then escorted out, disqualified for inciting a riot. The paper earned me an A. The paper is long gone but the memory is still there and I will write it into history when I finish my own memoir. This term paper paralleled my high school term paper about the symbolism of uniforms. I was then having my first experience in uniform as a Shoney’s curb hop. Uniforms symbolize the armed forces, valor and patriotism to most of us. But there are other uniforms, and women as well as men wear them.

History is what we all experience. Set your experiences within a historical context, enter the realm of herstory as well as history, and you will provide a new perspective to the future. – D. Wilbrink

If you want to expand your outlook and resources for family history, or are generally curious about our foremothers and what was really “women’s place” you are in luck. Price has scheduled speakers and a Chick History Bootcamp August 25 in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s name, March to the 19th reflects the theme of the passage of the 19th amendment, women’s right to vote, and its 100th anniversary in 2020. Rebecca Shrum, PhD is the keynote speaker of special interest to the general public, The workshop is aimed to history keepers and word-spreaders: museum & history pros, historians, archivists, librarians, academia, educators, students and tourism associations. I’ll be there too. The perspective of women and their environment, limitations, and cracks in the glass ceiling are of special interest to a personal historian. That early suffragette, Lizzie Crozier French was a member of the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church, a fact I had learned while researching and writing the history of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Fire of Commitment. I’ll be blogging more about that after attending the workshop…the participation of women in their churches is a new field for reaping discoveries about women’s lives in our abundant past. – Deborah Wilbrink



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“The Best Book is Your Own Story.”
Deborah Wilbrink

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