Women in Kentucky - Reform

Mary Sue Whayne: Whayne, whose family has been in Hickman County for six generations, remembers the day she read about the plans for the landfill in The Paducah Sun. “I felt physically sick,” she says. The dump was to be located on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi, near Columbus-Belmont State Park, a Civil War battlefield.

The front man for the proposed Hickman County mega-dump, John Horrell, showed up in the county and told residents he had come to “educate” them about all the good things the landfill would bring. “Sure,” says Whayne, “twenty thousand tons a day.”

Horrell’s comment “Really woke people up” and “made them mad,” Whayne says.

The community, with Mary Sue Whayne as a central leader, got together and formed the Coalition to Save the River Counties. As a result of the Coalition’s activism the county judge-executive passed a resolution against the landfill. This action changed Mary Sue Whayne’s life. Since the success of the Coalition, she helped form the Hickman County Local Government Project (LGP), which serves as a watchdog over local government and encourages citizen participation in government.

“I’ve made a lot of friends through this that have a lot in common as far as concern for the environment,” Whayne says. “And I found out there’s lots of groups out there working for the same cause. Until you get into it, you don’t realize that.”

Summarized from Robin Epstein. 1999. Citizen Power: Stories of America’s New Civic Spirit. Democracy Resource Center: Lexington, Kentucky. Used with permission.

Visit the Democracy Resource Center web page to learn more about grassroots movements in Kentucky, or to order a copy of Citizen Power: Stories of America’s New Civic Spirit.

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Site Overview


A. What

Performing Arts
Public Service

B. When

View a selected history of women
View a selected history of women
Sounds and images
Civil War Diaries

C. Where

Central / Northern Kentucky
Western Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky
Southern Kentucky


Selected Readings
Educational Tools
Web tools
Archival Collections
Children's Books

E. About this Project

Women in Sports:

Minnie Adkins
Elizabeth Barret, Anne Lewis, Mimi Pickering, & Justine Richardson
Jane Burch Cochran
Joan Dance
Enid Yandell

Women in Business:

Nelda Barton-Collings
Julia Dinsmore
Laura Freeman
Mattie Mack
Lena Madesin Phillips
Caroline Burnam Taylor

Women in Education:

Helen Lew Lang
Katherine Pettit
Jane Stephenson
Cora Wilson Stewart

Women in Health/Medicine:

Mary Britton
Linda Neville
Ora Framer Porter
Louise Southgate, M.D.

Women in Journalism:

Linda Boileau
Alice Allison Dunnigan

Women in Law:

Pearl Carter Pace
Lt. Colonel Linda Smith

Women in Literature:

Effie Waller Smith

Women in Military:

Lt. Anna Mac Clarke
Capt. Helen Horlacher Evans
Julia Ann Marcum

Women in Music:

Sarah Ogan Gunning
Helen Humes
Lily May Ledford
Reel World String Band
Jean Ritchie
Mary Wheeler

Women as Pioneers:

Esther Whitley

Women in Public Service:

Governor Martha Layne Collins
Emma Guy Cromwell
Rep. Mary Elliott Flanery
Sen. Georgia Davis Powers
Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall

Women in Reform:

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
Laura Clay
Eula Hall
Josephine Henry
Belinda Mason
Lois Morris
Eliza Caroline Calvert Obenchain
Charlotte Richardson
Joan Robinett
Mary Sue Whayne
Corinne Whitehead
Evelyn Williams

Women in Religion:

Eldress Nancy Moore
Rabbi Gaylia Rooks

Women in Science:

Sarah Frances Price
Ellen Churchill Semple

Women in Sports:

Terri Cecil-Ramsey
Geri Grigsby
Audrey Whitlock Peterson
Mary T. Meagher Plant