I grew up hearing stories about working-class and middle-class women in my family who left rural towns in south Georgia for larger cities. My paternal great-grandmother Gertrude Phillips was a spiritualist who migrated to Detroit, Michigan where her children and grandchildren became a part of the working-class backbone of the Motor City. The "Alford Sisters," who included my maternal great-grandmother and her sisters, migrated to Chattanooga, Tennessee where they became "club-like" women. One sister, Sally Crenshaw, started the first daycare center for Black and white working-class women in the city.
My family stories and experiences in Atlanta, GA and Detroit, MI shaped my interest in exploring the connections between the migrations and labor resistance of domestic workers and African American clubwomen. The tools that I gained from Spelman College allowed me to freely explore the archive where I also found connections between the histories of African American and Irish immigrant women.