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Mary Riddle oral history interview, July 24, 2004

 Item — othertype: Oral History
Identifier: W008_RiddleM_20040724

Scope and Contents

Interviewed by Janet Paulk. Riddle recounts a childhood in which she and her family moved around a great deal. She says that her earliest feminist activity was to run for a high school office, with the slogan, “Not the best man for the job, the best candidate.” She remembers becoming very interested in feminism in the early 1970s, at which time, while working and studying in Atlanta, she read Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique, and the newly circulating Ms magazine. Riddle states that her work proofreading for the Legislative Council whetted her appetite for the study of law, and that when she became involved in the Equal Rights Amendment, it was the legal aspects of amendment that interested her. She recounts that she first became involved with the ERA when she read a Creative Loafing ad for a Georgians for the Equal Rights meeting. She says “GERA was this funny little group mostly made up of Socialist Workers Party people…And there were times when I thought that a lot of the women at GERA were more interested in the Socialist Workers Party than the ERA.” Riddle goes on to describe the efforts of the “Bathroom Caucus” of GERA -- members who wanted to make GERA more ERA-focused. After those efforts failed, she became more involved with NOW, UUCA and ERA Georgia, Inc. She describes a number of the marches, debates and events that she attended as part of those groups. Riddle discusses the women in Women’s Movement that she most admired, and cites Martha Gaines as being important because she could “focus on the goals and continue to keep moving towards the goals, even past the irritations, and the rivalries and the disagreements about tactics.” Finally, Riddle talks about issues that are important to women today, the most important of which is reproductive rights.


  • Creation: July 24, 2004


Restriction on Access

Oral history available for research in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room.

Biographical Note

Mary Riddle was born in 1949 in Etowah, Tennessee. Her family later settled in Dalton, Georgia. She attended Mercer University in Macon and, after moving to Atlanta in 1970, attended Georgia State University on a part-time basis. She received her BA in English in 1975, and her Law degree in 1988. Riddle has been a proofreader for the Office of General Counsel (1973-1974), served on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1976-1985), and since 1990, has been an attorney, drafting bills for the Office of Legislative Counsel. Riddle began her involvement in the Women’s Movement by joining Georgians for the Equal Rights Amendment (GERA). She then joined NOW, which she served in a number of ways: She was executive vice president of Atlanta NOW and member of DeKalb NOW, and recorder/archivist for Georgia NOW after the defeat of the ERA. In 1983 she was voted Feminist of the Year by Atlanta NOW. Along with Janet Paulk, she was co-coordinator for ERA for the Universalist Unitarian Congregation of Atlanta.


2 item(s) (transcript (45 pages) audio (1:53:04 duration))

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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