Richardson, Eudora Ramsay
Popular as a teacher, Richardson named the literary societies that played a significant part of campus life. She also became noted for her promotion of women’s suffrage, with her stated goal at the Greenville Woman’s College being to educate “girls who are staunch advocates of women’s rights.”
Feminist, author, lecturer. Born in Versailles, Kentucky, on August 13, 1891, Richardson was the daughter of the Reverend David Marshall Ramsay and Mary Woolfolk. She grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia, where her father held pastorates at leading Baptist churches. She received bachelor’s degrees from Hollins College and the University of Richmond (1911) and an M.A. degree from Columbia University (1914).
From 1912 to 1914 Richardson headed the English department at the Greenville Female College (renamed the Greenville Woman’s College in 1914), a South Carolina institution for which her father served as president from 1911 to 1930. Popular as a teacher, Richardson named the literary societies that played a significant part of campus life. She also became noted for her promotion of women’s suffrage, with her stated goal at the Greenville Woman’s College being to educate “girls who are staunch advocates of women’s rights.” Such a view was perhaps shocking to some but was accepted with good grace at the conservative Baptist institution, which would merge with the all-male Furman University during the Great Depression.
Leaving the Greenville Woman’s College in 1914, Richardson embarked on a three-year speaking career as field director of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She worked closely with the suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt. She met her future husband, Fitzhugh Briggs Richardson of Richmond, while campaigning for votes for women. The couple married on December 13, 1917. The union produced one daughter, Eudora (Dolly).
During much of her married life, Richardson devoted herself to lecturing and writing. In the 1920s she spoke frequently at the Greenville Woman’s College, became affiliated with the Southern Women’s Educational Alliance, and served as president of the Richmond branch of the American Association of University Women. She published Little Aleck; A Life of Alexander H. Stephens (1932), The Woman Speaker; A Hand-book and Study Course on Public Speaking (1936), and The Influence of Men–Incurable (1936). In much of her speaking and writing, Richardson’s goal was to further her feminist agenda and to have women taken seriously as political leaders, community activists, and employees. She opposed protective legislation, seeing it as an attempt to take away from women the legal equality they had fought so long and hard to achieve.
In 1938 Richardson was selected to serve as director of the Federal Writers’ Project in Virginia and the state supervisor of the Virginia Writers’ Project. Her efforts led to a variety of publications, including Virginia; A Guide to the Old Dominion (1940) and The Negro in Virginia (1940). When her agency was abolished in 1943, Richardson found employment as a writer for the Quartermaster Technical Training Service at Camp Lee, Virginia. She retired in 1950 with a meritorious service commendation.
After retirement, Richardson continued to write and remained dedicated to her feminist views. Critical of the “women’s lib” movement of the early 1970s, she stated in an interview, “Not too much has changed since we got the vote. . . . We were effective but they’re not accomplishing anything much now.” She died in Richmond, Virginia, on October 6, 1973, and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
Garner, Anita M. “Richmond’s Own Eudora.” Richmond Quarterly 7 (winter 1984): 15–19.
Martin-Perdue, Nancy J., and Charles L. Perdue. Talk about Trouble: A New Deal Portrait of Virginians in the Great Depression. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
Richardson, Eudora Ramsay. Papers. Special Collections Department, Alder- man Memorial Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
“What Happened to . . . Eudora R. Richardson.” Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 12, 1971.