Battling Nell: The Life of Southern Journalist Corneila by Alexander S. Leidholdt

By Alexander S. Leidholdt

An established columnist for the Raleigh information and Observer, Cornelia conflict Lewis earned a countrywide attractiveness within the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties for her brave advocacy on behalf of women's rights, African americans, kids, and exertions unions. past due in her lifestyles, despite the fact that, after combating psychological disease, Lewis reversed a lot of her stances and railed opposed to the liberalism she had spent her lifestyles advancing. In scuffling with Nell, Alexander S. Leidholdt tells the compelling and finally tragic existence tale of this groundbreaking journalist opposed to the backdrop of the turbulent post-Reconstruction Jim Crow South and speculates concerning the reason behind her striking transformation. The daughter of North Carolina's so much widespread public overall healthiness respectable, Lewis grew up in Raleigh, yet her studies at Smith university in Massachusetts, and later in France in the course of global struggle I, led her to query the present racial attitudes and gender roles of her local zone. In 1920, Lewis all started her storied occupation with the scoop and Observer. encouraged by way of H. L. Mencken's scathing feedback of the South, she quickly tested herself because the region's best woman liberal journalist. Her column, "Incidentally," attacked the Ku Klux Klan, lobbied opposed to the exploitation of mill staff, defended strikers throughout the infamous communist-organized Gastonia exertions violence, mocked spiritual fundamentalists who fought the instructing of evolution, and decried lynch legislation. A suffragist and a feminist who observed women's rights as inextricably associated with human rights, Lewis ran for nation legislature in 1928 and used to be one of many first girls in North Carolina to be admitted to the bar. within the Nineteen Thirties, even though, Lewis confronted repeated institutionalizations for a debilitating bout of psychological disease and sought remedy from Christian technology practitioners, spiritualists, and psychotherapists. As she elderly, her perspectives grew more and more reactionary, and she or he insisted that she had served as a communist dupe in the course of the Gastonia strike and trials, that communists had infiltrated the college of North Carolina, and that a lot of her former innovative allies had ties to communism. ultimately, lots of her reviews thoroughly reversed, and within the wake of the 1954 Brown v. Board selection, she served as an influential spokesperson for the South's vast resistance to public university desegregation. She endured to espouse those conservative ideals till her demise in 1956. In his particular retelling of Lewis's interesting existence, Leidholdt chronicles the turbulent historical past of North Carolina from the Twenties during the Nineteen Fifties, as industrialization and racial integration started to tear on the region's conservative textile. He vividly explains the historical past and ramifications of Lewis's many arguable stances and explores the potential purposes for her ideological about-face. throughout the striking tale of "Battling Nell," Leidholdt finds how the advanced problems with gender, hard work, and race intertwined to steer the convulsive occasions that formed the process early twentieth-century southern historical past.

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Additional resources for Battling Nell: The Life of Southern Journalist Corneila Battle Lewis, 1893–1956 (Southern Biography Series)

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The Routine,” St. Mary’s Muse 16, no. 3 (November 1911): 79–80; N&O, 4 November 1923, 15 September 1935; Stoops, Heritage, 33, 201–2, 209. 49. “The Graduation Exercises and Address,” St. Mary’s Muse 16, no. 1 (June 1911): 11, 16–23. 50. “Graduation Exercises and Address,” 11–13. 51 As the St. Mary’s faculty and administration and Nell applauded their distinguished guest’s commencement address that May morning, however, neither these dignitaries nor she would have predicted that she would ever, despite her obvious potential, earn such lofty praise.

Smith College Weekly, 8 October 1913, 18 February 1914. 38. Smith College Weekly, 18 February 1914, 16 February 1916. 39. Smith College Weekly, 4 November 1914. battling nell 36 Come into the Reading Room—any time will do— If you don’t know how to knit, we will teach you to. 40 Gray mufflers replaced the colorful sweaters the students previously had knit, and the residence houses reduced the extravagance of their receptions to purchase supplies for Belgian refugees. The committee’s chair would soon announce shipment of 718 bandages, 176 bundles of absorbent pads, 760 towels, 20 dozen sheets, 109 pillow cases, 3 night shirts, 10 flannel petticoats, 1 abdominal band, 2 pairs of wristlets, and 97 mufflers to New York for transport overseas.

34. Kathryn Cullen-DuPont, The Encyclopedia of Women’s History in America (New York: Da Capo, 1998), 42–43; Smith College Weekly, 25 April 1917. 35. Evans, Born for Liberty, 167; Smith College Weekly, 9 December 1914. beyond the pale 35 Laidler’s “clear and convincing lecture . . 36 Suffrage provided abundant grist for dialogue at Smith, and early in Lewis’s freshman year students inaugurated a Suffrage Discussion Club. A few months later, however, the club’s founders bemoaned the fact that they had failed to provoke any debate on the topic.

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