Special Collections has partnered with the City of Chattanooga Mayor’s Council for Women History Subcommittee to preserve and provide access to more than 50 interviews with women in and around our city. The interviews celebrate the accomplishments and experiences of women business leaders, advocates, educators, social activists, and community builders across generation, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. The women interviewed discuss topics ranging from the revitalization of downtown Chattanooga and their experiences during Jim Crow to political activism and achieving work-life balance.

Fifty-nine interviews have been published in our Digital Collections, and more than forty boast full text transcriptions, allowing you to search the audio. Please take a moment to read excerpts from the interviews below.

[Momma] always talked to me about how when she was young and would go downtown, unparalleled to what I went through, how she would see the fountains that said “colored” and “white”, but when I was a little girl going to see my momma work downtown, I could go to any fountain I wanted to go to. It was those kinds of things–the stories that I was able to hear about what they went through and why we don’t have to go through those things … because people had already fought and overcome.

Karitsa Mosely, 2016 April 20

I was speaking with a refugee, himself, a few weeks ago. He is from Iraq, and he said ten years ago, they were really just leaders who came to their community in Iraq also having a rhetoric of hatred and distrust and fear, and he expressed something interesting, he said, “At the time, we thought ‘well, you know, nobody’s really listening to these people.’ But, then years later, there is a harvest of death and destruction.” And, he said, “I see the very same seeds now being planted, especially from Christian radio stations and tv stations, and I fear that from–in a few years–we are going to start seeing a harvest of violence because we are not standing up and speaking against that.” So, I think this whole environment, it’s not a nurturing one, and, sometimes, people have this tendency to think, “Oh, once the poltical campaign is over and the election, we’re going to get on with our lives as if nothing happened.” But, I believe that that’s, unfortunately, not true.

Gabriela Phillips, 2016 April 19

Funding for transcription of the interviews is provided by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Collaborative Research Initiative for Sponsored Programs grant.