Carolyn Curry

Carolyn Curry is the author of Suffer and Grow Strong: The Life of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas 1834-1907, a Georgia woman who kept diaries for over forty years -- from age fourteen to age fifty-five. They tell of her extraordinary life before, during and after the Civil War. Born into one of the wealthiest families in Georgia, after the Civil War, her life was one of devastation and family strife. Yet she prevailed becoming active in many women’s organizations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Unions and the Suffrage Movement. She was the first elected president of the Georgia Suffrage Association in 1899. (Sadly, she did not live to see women get the right to vote (1920) Her story is one of survival and transformation that speaks to women today.

 

Curry received a B. A. degree in English from Agnes Scott College and M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in history from Georgia State University. She has taught at the University of Kentucky and the Westminster Schools in Atlanta. 

 

Curry has also written papers on significant women’s issues and often speaks to various groups around the country. Compelled by women’s stories shared with her during years of research and teaching, Curry founded Women Alone Together in Atlanta in 2002. Partnering with Agnes Scott College Alumnae Association, the foundation works to build confidence and community among the growing number of women who are alone in our culture. She has led the organization to become the dynamic, viable entity it is today.

 

She has served on many non-profit and college board in Kentucky and Georgia. She was also appointed by the Governor to the Kentucky Heritage Council and has received many awards for her public service. 

For more than 50 years, she has been married to football legend Bill Curry (college and pro, player and coach and TV sports analyst). They have a daughter, Kristin Hunter, a son Bill Curry, Jr., and seven grandchildren and reside in Atlanta.

Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas was an intelligent, spirited woman born in 1834 to one of the wealthiest families in Georgia. At the age of fourteen she began and kept a diary for forty-one years. These diaries of her life before, during, and after the Civil War filled thirteen hand-written volumes with 450,000 words. In the early years she described her life of leisure and recorded the books she read. Her father recognized her love of learning and sent her to the first college for women in America, Wesleyan Female College in Macon, Georgia. After college graduation in 1851, she was a gay young girl of fashion who met and married her Princeton-educated husband in 1852. However, with the coming of the Civil War and its aftermath, her life changed forever. Thomas experienced loss of wealth, bankruptcy, the death of loved ones, serious illness, and devastating family strife. She gave birth to ten children and saw four of them die. But, through it all, she kept pouring thoughts into her diary. Thomas examined what was happening, asked questions, and strived to find ways to improve her family's dire economic straits. She started a school in

her home and later ran a boarding house out of the old family mansion. In 1893, Thomas left Augusta and moved to Atlanta where she became active in many women's organizations. She found comfort in her work with the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Suffrage Movement. She began producing articles for newspapers, keeping them in scrapbooks that tell the story of her life after she quit keeping a diary. In 1899 she was elected president of the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association. Because of her own losses, Thomas was sensitive to the well-being of other women. As she said, she had suffered and grown strong. Her life is an amazing story of survival and transformation that speaks to women in our own time.

© 2019 Dahlonega Literary Festival