Julia A. Flisch Collection
Compiled by Robin O. Harris, 1991
The documents comprising the collection of Julia Anna Flisch (1861-1941), historian, author, teacher, feminist, and scholar, were donated to Russell Library at an undetermined time. It is believed that the donor was Julia Flisch's longtime friend, Alice Napier, who inherited them upon the death of Flisch. In 1988, Robin O. Harris, an undergraduate student in the History Department of Georgia College, began a complete inventory and evaluation of the collection which at that time consisted of three boxes of papers with the minimum of identification and organization. Processing has only recently been completed.
The results of the processing are seven boxes of papers carefully arranged in an order which was determined to be most conducive to research. Since it was impossible to determine the order of the materials upon donation, there was no restriction upon the organizational development of the collection which now follows that set forth in this guide. Following a biographical essay on Flisch's life and career is a general description of the scope and content of the papers which are divided into ten series. Narrative summaries at the beginning of each series give more detailed analysis of the contents of the individual sections. Box and folder inventories follow each series note. The papers document almost every interest and activity of Flisch's long career: early advocate for female education, teacher, historical scholar, and author of fiction.
The Flisch papers are available without restriction to all researchers.
Julia Anna Flisch was born 31 January 1861 in Augusta, Georgia, daughter of Leonard Flisch, a "confectionary," and Pauline Flisch. She was the middle child, with a older brother, Henry, and a younger sister, Leonnie. When Flisch was just an infant, the family moved to Athens, Georgia, where they lived for approximately twenty years before returning to live in Augusta.
Flisch graduated with honors from the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens (1877). She then applied for admission to the University of Georgia; her rejection from this all-male institution fueled her fight for education opportunities for women.
After a five year gap in documentation, Flisch appears as an advocate for occupational and educational opportunities for women through a letter written to the editors of the Augusta Chronicle (1882). For the next ten years Flisch served as a special correspondent for the Augusta Chronicle to which she contributed articles and letters on a wide range of subjects including appropriations of the Georgia legislature, involvement in the Spanish-American war, the Boston and New Orleans Expositions, and opportunities for women. When Flisch was a student at the Coopers Institute in New York City (1883-1884), the Chronicle published letters from her on many facets of life in New York City, including window shopping, the stock market, and building architecture.
Her first novel, Ashes of Hopes, was published in 1886. During this time she also had several articles accepted for publication in northern periodicals. Because of her early and strongly vocal advocacy of female education in Georgia, Flisch was asked to represent the women of the state at the laying of the cornerstone for the Georgia Normal and Industrial College (GNIC), the first state supported college for women in Georgia (1890). She was the only woman with a formal part on the program, and the paper she read that day was published in several state newspapers.
Flisch served on the faculty of GNIC where she was originally a professor of stenography and telegraphy, but later assumed the position of professor of History (1891-1905). During her tenure she attended summer classes at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, and also continued to contribute articles and comments on current affairs to newspapers throughout the state. Flisch became known as one of the most able and ready female speakers in the State. She spoke to such organizations as the Federation of Women's Clubs and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The University of Georgia presented Flisch with the first honorary degree ever given by the institution to a woman (1899).
Upon her resignation from GNIC, Flisch entered the University of Wisconsin where she received an M.A. in History (1908). As a student there she worked in the library and later as a secretary in the Department of Economics and Sociology. Flisch studied under Frederick Jackson Turner and Ulrich Phillips, two of the most noted historians of this period. She was a close friend of Phillips' mother who worked at GNIC in Milledgeville. Upon the death of Mrs. Phillips (1906), Flisch wrote a memorial article for the Union Recorder (Milledgeville). Flisch had two articles published in the American Historical Association Annual Report (1908-1909) which was a rare honor for a woman at this time.
Due to her mother's poor health, Flisch returned to Augusta (1908) where she began teaching at Tubman High School for Girls (1909). When the first junior college in Georgia was established in Augusta, Flisch was asked to serve as Dean of Women and professor of History (1926). Her second novel, Old Hurricane, was published this same year. Flisch retired from teaching in 1936 due to severe eye problems.
Flisch died on March 17, 1941, and was buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, Georgia. In her obituaries she was lauded as "having done more than any other person to advance the cause of women's education in Georgia."
Scope and Content
The Flisch Collection consists of seven manuscript boxes (three linear feet). It includes personal and professional correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, research notes, photographs, and copies of published articles and papers. The documents cover a span of years from 1862 to 1990.
Series 8, Unpublished Fiction, is the largest of the ten series (2 boxes). None of the manuscripts are dated. A correlation with correspondence from publishers/periodicals can provide some chronological information, but many of the manuscripts appear to have been written, and re-written, over a number of years. Some of the manuscripts have more than one draft, and there are fragments which are presumed to be various re-writes.
Series 2, Professional Correspondence, Subseries a, Publishers/Periodicals, is another large series. It contains letters received in response to manuscripts submitted for publication.
Series 10, Additions donated by Robin O. Harris, provides background and documentation of Flisch's life and career (Subseries d-h); Works written by Flisch (Subseries i-j) comprises those items published during Flisch's lifetime, and ascertained by Harris prior to the compilation of this guide. The works produced by Harris as a result of her research are in Subseries a-h.
There are gaps in the papers. Very few personal writings by Flisch are contained in the collection; there are periods of time where no published articles have been found, and there are allusions to published works as yet not located; time periods occur where there is no documentation whatsoever of Flisch's whereabouts or vocation. There are also many areas which require further expansion, such as her time at the University of Wisconsin, and her reputed participation and apparent orchestration of a county wide teachers strike in Richmond County, Augusta, Georgia.
More detailed information about the papers is provided in the individual series descriptions. There are no restrictions on the use of the papers. The collection arrangement varies within the following subject classifications in 10 series:
1. Personal Correspondence
2. Professional Correspondence
3. Non-Fiction Works
6. Biographical Documentation
8. Unpublished Fictional Works
9. Additions - Unknown Donor
10. Additions - Robin O. Harris, Donor
Provenance and Arrangement
After her death, Flisch designated Alice Napier as the recipient of her manuscripts and papers to dispose of as she saw fit. It is no known when Napier donated the collection to the Ina Dillard Russell Library of Georgia College.
Prior to the current organization of the collection, the papers were stored in three file boxes, loosely organized in manila folders. In 1988 in the process of updating the History of Georgia College, Dr. Robert J. Wilson, III, Associate Professor of History, Georgia College, found the boxes in Special Collections. He recognized the name, Julia A. Flisch, from early records of Georgia College, and felt that the papers could contain information previously undiscovered. He also felt it was important for the papers to be inventoried and the manuscripts evaluated. Robin O. Harris, an undergraduate student in the History Department, agreed to undertake the project. In the process of organizing and identifying the collection, Harris became intrigued by Flisch and began extensive research in order to document and expand the limited biographical and non-fictional information provided by the original collection.
Because there was no way to determine the original order of the collection, it was organized for the sole purpose of providing easy access for researchers. In 1990 it was decided to develop both an index, and a finding guide, for the collection. In anticipation of putting all similar collections on computer software, it was decided to use the Flisch collection to develop a software system that would be user friendly for researchers while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the collection and meeting the necessary archival requirements.
An extensive name-subject index card file with cross-reference information has been developed to provide access to the collection. The computer system remains in the developmental stage.
Box List (pdf)