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Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage book release set for December 8

Featuring stories by Tennessee women about Tennessee women, proceeds from book sales will
provide copies of the book to high school libraries in Tennessee.

tennessee women of vision and courageKNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Women Project is proud to announce the release of their new book, Tennesse Women of Vision and Courage . A Knoxville book launch and wine and cheese reception will be held Sunday, December 8, 2013, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the East Tennessee History Center at 601 South Gay Street. The event is free and open to the public.

Tennessee women fought for their right to vote, compulsory education for children, racial justice, and equal opportunities. Their pioneering spirit, vision, and courage enabled them to overcome hardship and adversity to blaze a trail for other women. Compiled and edited by Charlotte Crawford and Ruth Johnson Smiley, this book chronicles the hardships and successes of 22 historic women who left their mark on Tennessee. Crawford said, “The contributions of women are often shown as a footnote in history. The stories of the women in Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage bring these women out of the shadows and shine a light on the trail-blazing, pioneering spirit embodied by them. They deserve to be remembered and acknowledged and to take their place in the history books of Tennessee.”

While the book includes profiles of women across the state, several stories focus on those who made their particular mark on East Tennessee. These include Elizabeth Paxton Houston, the mother of Sam Houston; women’s education advocate Angie Villette Warren Perkins; physician and hospital founder Emma Rochelle Wheeler; newspaper publisher Edith O’Keefe Susong; Tennessee’s “first lady of politics,” Anna Belle Clement O’Brien; and aviator and flight instructor Evelyn “Mama Bird” Bryan Johnson (picture on the book’s cover), among others.

Twenty experienced Tennessee women writers from a variety of professional backgrounds volunteered to research, document, and create original profiles of the historic Tennessee women included in this book. Each contributor drew from her own unique knowledge and experience to connect with her subject and make history come alive. East Tennessee contributors include: Judy Arnold, Sara Baker, Kathy Duggan, Sherri Gardner Howell, Margie LeCoultre, Hannah Seay, and Pam Strickland of Knoxville; Margaret “Peggy” Emmett and Pat Hope of Oak Ridge; Ann Thornfield-Long of Norris; Deborah Staley of Maryville; Jane Powers of Crossville; and Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Stephanie Todd of Chattanooga.

To ensure that the stories of these women are not lost, the project plans to provide a copy of the book to every high school library in Tennessee. When told of the proposed donations, Margaret Britton Vaughn, Tennessee Poet Laureate, said: “When students read about Tennessee history, it is the names like Jackson, Polk, Crockett, York, and so many other men that have gone down on pages of recognition. The Tennessee Women Project has broadened the scope in their book and honored twenty-two women who have been instrumental in the making of the volunteer state.”

The December 8 program will include a panel of contributing authors and the book’s editors, who will discuss their experiences in researching these remarkable women. This will be followed by a book signing, and books will be available for purchase. Attendees are invited to partake in a wine and cheese reception as part of the event. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be served.

The Tennessee Women Project would like to thank the East Tennessee Historical Society, Swofford Financial, Synergy Wealth Management (formerly Hobson Yoder Financial Group), and the Y12 Federal Credit Union for their generous sponsorship of this event.

Books are also available online at For more information about Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage, visit the website at or write

Published December 1, 2013

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