Frances Freeborn Pauley papers, 1919-1992

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Pauley, Frances Freeborn, 1905-2003.
Title: Frances Freeborn Pauley papers, 1919-1992
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 659
Extent:52.5 linear ft. (100 boxes), 11 oversized papers (OP), and 1 oversized bound volume (OBV)
Abstract:Papers of Georgia human rights and civil rights activist Frances Freeborn Pauley including correspondence, diaries, organizational records, subject files, clippings, and memorabilia.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Series 11, entire series is closed to researchers.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift, 1984 with subsequent additions.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Frances Freeborn Pauley (1905-2003), human rights and civil rights activist, was born September 11, 1905 in Wadsworth, Ohio, to William Freeborn, a merchant, and Josephine Andrews Freeborn. She had one brother, William Elbridge Freeborn. In 1908, William Freeborn was offered the job of running the business for his brother-in-law, H.G. Hastings, owner of Hastings Nursery, and so the family moved from Ohio to Decatur, Georgia. Frances Pauley attended Decatur High School, and graduated from Agnes Scott College in 1927 with a degree in mathematics. During her years at Agnes Scott, Pauley took many drama courses, and taught drama in the DeKalb County schools for several years after graduation. She was also active in theatrical activities around Atlanta. It was while she was directing a play at St. Philip's Episcopal Church that she met her future husband, William Crooks Pauley. They were married on May 25, 1930, and had two daughters, Joan Pauley Lamb, and Marylin Pauley Beittel.

William Crooks Pauley, a landscape architect, was born July 6, 1893 in Lafayette, Indiana, to Joseph E. Pauley and Lillian A. Crooks Pauley. He graduated in 1916 from Purdue University with a B.S. in Agriculture, and in 1918 from the University of Massachusetts with a M.L.A. (Landscape). He was the architect who designed Hurt Park and other developments. William Crooks Pauley died in 1985.

During the depression, while raising a young family and doing volunteer work for a church-sponsored free dental clinic, Pauley's social consciousness began to develop. During that time, she organized community support and helped raise $25,000 to begin a program of providing hot lunches at every school in DeKalb County. She also helped set up a free medical clinic in Decatur.

In the 1940s, she became active in the DeKalb County League of Women Voters, and as its second President, she struck the bylaws clause limiting membership to whites only. From 1952-1955, she served as President of the state chapter of the League of Women Voters, which successfully worked to defeat the County Unit System. In the late 1950s, she helped establish bi-racial discussion groups with the Fund For Adult Education. It was here that she forged relationships with many of those with whom she would work on human rights and civil rights issues in years to come.

Following the 1954 desegregation decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Frances Pauley worked with HOPE (Help Our Public Schools) to help keep public schools open and to advance the cause of integration. She also organized testimony for the Sibley Commission hearings in 1960. After urging from Martin Luther King, Jr., Frances Pauley became head of the Georgia Council on Human Relations in 1960. She served in this position until 1967, organizing local councils in many Georgia towns and cities to provide a forum for Blacks and whites. The Council was often in the midst of controversy, as when attempting to register Black voters in remote Georgia counties.

From 1968 to 1973, Frances Pauley worked for the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She began working in the welfare compliance section, but was soon moved to the education division where she coordinated school desegregation compliance in Mississippi.

After her retirement in 1973, Frances Pauley continued to be active in social causes, founding the Georgia Poverty Rights Organization in 1974 to lobby for the rights of poor people primarily in the areas of welfare and energy assistance. She has continued to be involved in human rights and civil rights organizations in more recent years, including AID Atlanta, and People for Urban Justice (PUJ), an organization for the homeless sponsored by the Open Door Community.

Among her many awards, Frances Pauley has received the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta's community service award, the Outstanding Alumni Award from Agnes Scott College's Alumnae Association (1984), and an honorary doctor of laws degree from Emory University (1989).

Scope and Content Note

The Frances Freeborn Pauley papers consist of a wide variety of material types including correspondence, diaries, organizational records, subject files, clippings, and memorabilia. The collection dates from 1919-1992, with the bulk of the papers dating from ca. 1957-1992. This collection is strong in its representation of civil rights and social welfare issues prevalent from the mid 1950s to the present time.

Organization-related records make up most of this collection; there are relatively few materials relating to the personal life of Frances Freeborn Pauley. Most information of this type is found in the Personal Papers series. All of the series document Pauley's involvement with civil rights and social welfare issues.

Series 11 of this collection houses those files which have been restricted. The restriction decisions were based on the recent personal information found in these items, and include such items as resumes, performance evaluations, questionnaires, and case files.

Arrangement Note

Arranged in twelve series: (1) Personal papers, (2) League of Women Voters records, (3) Fund for Adult Education records, (4) HOPE (Help Our Public Education) records, (5) Georgia Council on Human Relations records, (6) Georgia State Advisory Committee on Civil Rights records, (7) United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare: Office of Civil Rights files, (8) Georgia Poverty Rights Organization records, (9) Other affiliations files, (10) AIDS files, (11) Restricted files, and (12) Unprocessed additions.

Finding Aid Note

Index to selected correspondents is available.

Description of Series