Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Panthea Reid


Josephine "Jo" Joel Heyman (1901--1993) provides an intimate and touching record of twentieth century upper-middle-class Atlanta-Jewish life through her teenage and young adult diaries and letters. Through her autobiographical writings, this twentieth century Southern-Jewish woman's regional, ethnic, and gender identities are revealed. Mrs. Heyman, an influential civic leader in Atlanta, Georgia, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College. She began writing diaries as a child to express her private feelings and thoughts, and as a young adult she wrote letters from college to her future fiance. The backdrop of her personal story is the story of the Southern-Jewish community, which began with her grandparents immigrating to the United States in the nineteenth century and continues with the lives of her children and grandchildren into the twenty-first century. Josephine Joel's childhood was conventional for an Atlanta Jewish girl, but she developed a particularly forceful personality. As an adult she chose to use her talents to better humankind through an extensive volunteer, leadership career. She was active in progressive Atlanta Jewish circles during turbulent and memorable decades of fights for African American Civil Rights. Mrs. Heyman's adult life provides a prime example of the new roles provided for women and American Jews in the twentieth century.