Tillett, Gladys Avery, 1891-1984

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Gladys Avery Tillett of Charlotte, N.C., was vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, 1940-1950; co-director of Frank Porter Graham's senatorial campaign, 1950; United States delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, 1961-1968; proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment; and activist for other political and social causes.

From the description of Gladys Avery Tillett papers, 1700s-2000. WorldCat record id: 14117471

Gladys Avery Tillett (1893-1984), political leader and United Nations official.

From the description of Tillett, Gladys Avery, 1893-1984 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10597749

Gladys Avery Tillett, daughter of Alphonso Calhoun Averyand Sallie Love Thomas Avery, was born in Morganton, N.C., on 19 March 1891. In 1915, she received a B.A. from the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where she majored in political science under Harriet Elliott, who became a friend and life-long influence. She also received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1917. In July 1917, she married Charles Walter Tillett, Jr., a Charlotte lawyer. They had three children: Gladys, Charles, and Sara.

Tillett's interest in politics and her participation in the women's suffrage movement led her to help create the North Carolina state chapter of the League of Women Voters and a Mecklenburg County chapter; she served as president of the latter in 1922-1923, and of the former in 1934.

As a Democrat, one of Tillett's initial accomplishments was to increase the participation of women in North Carolina Democratic Party activities, first by becoming her precinct's vice-chair, and, in 1927, by insuring that party law provided that a man and woman would serve jointly as party chair and vice-chair on precinct, party, and state levels. Tillett herself was the North Carolina Democratic Party's vice-chair from 1934 to 1936. In 1932, 1936, and 1940, she was a North Carolina delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Tillett headed the Speakers' Bureau of the Democratic National Committee in 1936 and 1940, recruiting and scheduling the appearances of speakers for Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1940, she became vice-chair of the Democratic National Convention, and chair of its Women's Division, delivering the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in July 1944. She resigned from those positions in 1950 to co-direct (with Jeff Johnson) the senatorial campaign of Frank Porter Graham, but continued to be active in national Democratic Party affairs, working on both of Adlai Stevenson's presidential campaigns in the 1950s.

Tillett was involved with the United Nations from its inception; she and her husband attended its Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in 1945, and the UNESCO conference in Paris in 1949. From 1954 to 1958, she was co-chair of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Association for the United Nations. President John F. Kennedy, for whom Tillett had actively campaigned in 1960, appointed her to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 1961. In that capacity, she traveled to such places as Nigeria, South and Central America, Japan, and Mongolia, studying the political, educational, social, and economic rights of women around the world. Reappointed to the Commission in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, she served until 1968.

Tillett had been a proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment since the 1920s. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, she became increasingly involved with the movement for the ratification of the amendment, serving as president of the North Carolina chapter of E.R.A. United in 1974 and 1975.

Gladys Avery Tillett's health began to decline in the late 1970s, and in 1980, she entered a nursing home. She died on 21 September 1984.

From the guide to the Gladys Avery Tillett Papers, 1700s-2000, (Southern Historical Collection)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Alphonso Calhoun Avery Papers, 1761-1977 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf Porter, Julia Gorman, 1897-. Julia Gorman Porter papers, 1906-1987 (bulk 1928-1987). UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Tillett, Gladys Avery, 1891-1984. Collection, 1960-1978 (bulk 1978). University of North Carolina, Charlotte, J. Murrey Atkins Library
creatorOf Tillett, Gladys Avery, 1891-1984. Gladys Avery Tillett papers, 1700s-2000. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Charles Walter Tillett Papers, 1853-1954 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Avery, Alphonso Calhoun, 1835-1913. Alphonso Calhoun Avery papers, 1761-1977 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. Albums, 1861-1962 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Charles Walter Tillett Papers, 1853-1954 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf Gladys Avery Tillett Papers, 1700s-2000 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Audiovisual Collection. 1957 - 2006. Photographs Relating to the Administration, Family, and Personal Life of Harry S. Truman. 1957 - 2004. Photograph of Mrs. Bess W. Truman with Democratic Women
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Avery, Alphonso Calhoun, 1835-1913. person
associatedWith Cone, Bonnie E. (Bonnie Ethel), 1907- person
associatedWith Democratic Party (N.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. person
associatedWith Dewson, Molly, 1884-1947. person
associatedWith Elliott, Harriet, 1886-1980. person
associatedWith Graham, Frank Porter, 1886-1972. person
associatedWith Hickok, Lorena A. person
associatedWith Marney, Carlyle, 1916-1978. person
associatedWith Myers Park Baptist Church (Charlotte, N.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Porter, Julia Gorman, 1897- person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962. person
associatedWith Tillett, Charles Walter, 1888-1952. person
associatedWith United Nations corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
North Carolina
United States
Charlotte (N.C.)
Charlotte (N.C.)
Subject
Women political activists--History--20th century
Young Women's Christian associations
Women--Political activity
Equal rights amendments
Women in public life--History--20th century
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1891

Death 1984

English

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