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Susan May oral history interview, May 17, 2007

 Item — othertype: Oral History

Scope and Contents

Interviewed by Mary Jo Duncanson. Susan May begins her interview talking about her parents. She then talks about how her grandmother, Dorothy Knight, influenced her life, and how there was a contrast and tension between her father and grandfather that shaped their family. May was born in Rochester, New Hampshire, but moved around as a child. She went to stay with relatives to attend the Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. That school was a kind of prep school which helped her enter college. May discusses attending San Diego State College where her family had relocated to. She would eventually finish her undergraduate work at the University of California at Berkley, where she also received a teaching certificate. She met and married her husband, Dan May, who was at Berkley working on a PhD. Susan and Dan relocated to Oberlin College where Dan did postgraduate work. Susan started meeting women who were involved in the women’s movement. They then went to Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Both Oberlin and Earlham were associated with the Quakers and Susan began to attend Quaker meetings. Susan talks about her time in Richmond, having children, and her growing involvement in the women’s movement. After a move to Atlanta in 1972, Susan goes to work for the YWCA Women’s Center. She discusses the many groundbreaking organizations and people who coalesced around the women’s movement in the 1970s. May worked to develop a network to support battered women in, and outside of her work at the YWCA. She was involved with the Council on Battered Women which morphed into the Partnership Against Domestic Violence. She talks about her more contemporary work with Project Interconnections, Aid Atlanta, Friends Committee on National Legislation and Southeastern Reinvestment Ventures. She closes with a discussion about her personal bout with depression.


  • Creation: May 17, 2007


Restriction on Access

Oral history available for research.

Biographical Note

Born in New Hampshire in 1941, Susan May earned her bachelor’s degree in French and English at the University of California at Berkeley (1964) and her masters in English at Ball State University (1971). She taught English, French and journalism at public high schools in Ohio and Indiana before moving to Atlanta, where she became the Resource Coordinator at the YWCA Women’s Center. It was while she worked at the YWCA (1975-1982) that she established the Council on Battered Women, and, as President of the Board and then Director, she nurtured a small task force to become a broadly-based community organization, and built a comprehensive program of crisis line, shelter, children’s program, and educational services to aid 4,000 battered women a year. From 1982-1990, she was a consultant to non-profit organizations, providing fundraising and organizational training to nonprofit organizations, and from 1990-1996, she served as Executive Director for Project Interconnections, Inc. a housing developer for nonprofit organizations whose purpose is to develop permanent housing with on-site support for homeless, mentally ill adults in Metro Atlanta. Diagnosed with lymphoma in 1997, Susan took time off for treatment and recovery. Since that time, Susan has served as President of Fugees Family, Inc. an organization that helps child survivors of war, and for many years, she was actively involved with the Finance Committee for the Atlanta Friends Meeting.


2 item(s) (audio (1:37:42 duration) transcript (31 pages))

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)