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Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

September 13

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Viola Ross Napier and Bessie Kempton Crowell

September 13, 1922 - Atlanta

It was a giant step forward for Georgia women on this day in 1922.  

Viola Napier of Bibb County and Bessie Kempton Crowell of Fulton County became the first women elected to the General Assembly. They hit the milestone only two years after the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. 

Napier was a schoolteacher and mother of four.  After her husband died in the 1919 flu epidemic, she pursued a lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer. None of Macon's firms would hire her, so she began her own practice, representing other women and the poor.

She was the first woman to argue a case before the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals.  She served as Macon City Clerk for 27 years before her death in 1962, and was inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement in 1993.  Bessie Crowell was an Atlanta Constitution reporter and served three terms in the legislature. Napier and Crowell were pioneers for women.  They blazed a trail to the state legislature on September 13, 1922, Today in Georgia History.

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Fast Fact

Viola Napier was the first woman to win a pardon for a convicted client before the client served any of her sentence.