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Margaret Leonard / Long Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Collection number: MS-126

Scope and Contents

Margaret (Sissy) Leonard and her family have a long tradition of jounalism and activism during the twentieth century. This tradition began with her grandfather, George Long, who relentlessly attacked the Ku Klux Klan in his editorials at the Macon Telegraph in the early 1900's. Her mother Margaret Long, a progressive journalist, worked at various southern newspapers while writing two published novels and raising two children (mostly alone) at a time when female journalists were a rarity. Margaret Long wrote about and corresponded with many of the important people involved with both sides of the civil rights and women's liberation movements. Margaret Leonard, while pursuing her own jounalism career, began her activism in the civil rights movement while attending college in New Orleans. She participated in local sit-ins and the Mississippi Freedom Rides of 1961 during which she was arrested and jailed. She is characterized as the "first unmistakably Southern white student to participate in the Mississippi Freedom Rides" by Raymond Arsenault in his book Freedom Riders. Her activism was detailed in Look magazine and served as an inspiration for participants that followed. Leonard is now retired after working for several newspapers including the Chattanooga Times, St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, and Tallahassee Democrat. The collection documents the personal and professional lives of Margaret (Sissy) Leonard, her mother Margaret Long, her father Howard Leonard (also a jounalist), and her sister Catherine (Bunny). Included are personal letters and notes, official correspondence, maunuscripts and newspaper or magazine articles written about or by the family members. Coverage is from the early 1900's through the 1980's, but is cenetered around 1950's- 1970's. The collection covers some national events, but is concentrated on the South. Subjects include the civil rights movement, the women's liberation movement, the Freedom Rides, sit-ins, SNCC (Sudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committe, CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the Charleston Hospital Strike, southern union politics, prison conditions and the Albany Movement. The personal correspondence chronicles the experiences of the family. Struggles with alcoholism, divorce, single motherhood, finances and discrimination are revealed in sometimes intimate details. The collection is not all encompassing as many items are incomplete or damaged, but it documents the many subjects from a personal and jounalistic perspective.
Harmful Content Policy: Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collection’s collection houses materials collected to elucidate the past. We recognize that users may encounter some items within these collections that contain offensive language, viewpoints, imagery or other forms of objectionable content. Such materials document the past and should be viewed within the context of their original time period. Providing online access to these historical materials does not endorse any attitudes, prejudices, or behaviors depicted therein. Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections is committed to upholding the principle of equal and free access to unaltered historical information. (based upon the statement for the Georgia Public Library Service on harmful content)

Dates

  • 1900 - 1989
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1970

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Extent

8.00 Boxes

Language

English

Abstract

Margaret (Sissy) Leonard and her family have a long tradition of jounalism and activism during the twentieth century. This tradition began with her grandfather, George Long, who relentlessly attacked the Ku Klux Klan in his editorials at the Macon Telegraph in the early 1900's. Her mother Margaret Long, a progressive journalist, worked at various southern newspapers while writing two published novels and raising two children (mostly alone) at a time when female journalists were a rarity. Margaret Long wrote about and corresponded with many of the important people involved with both sides of the civil rights and women's liberation movements. Margaret Leonard, while pursuing her own jounalism career,  began her activism in the civil rights movement while attending college in New Orleans. She participated in local sit-ins and  the Mississippi Freedom Rides of 1961 during which she was arrested and jailed. She is characterized as the "first unmistakably Southern white student to participate in the Mississippi Freedom Rides" by Raymond Arsenault in his book Freedom Riders. Her activism was detailed in Look magazine and served as an inspiration for participants that followed. Leonard is now retired after working for several newspapers including the Chattanooga Times, St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, and Tallahassee Democrat.

Source of Acquisition

Margaret Leonard

Method of Acquisition

Gift
Title
Archon Finding Aid Title
Status
Completed
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2020-05-12: Revised for DACS compliance by Douglas Carlson

Repository Details

Part of the Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Valdosta State University Archives, Odum Library
1500 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta GA 30601 United States
7063728116
229-259-5055 (Fax)