Savannah's Black "First Ladies," Vol. 1: The Past, Present, and Future
by Pamela Howard-Oglesby and Brenda L. Roberts

Outskirts Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-432-73112-0.
Reviewed by Susan Wittig Albert
Posted on 10/23/2010

Nonfiction: Biography; Nonfiction: Cultural/Gender Focus

Savannah's Black First Ladies is a collection of profiles recognizing African-American women who pioneered in their vocational and professional fields and opened doors for the women who followed them. From the founder of the first order of African-American nuns in Georgia (Mother Mathilda Taylor-Beasley) to the State Command Chief of the Georgia Air National Guard (Betty L. G. Morgan), the book compiles brief biographies of two dozen highly accomplished black women.

All of the biographies reveal fascinating lives and give a glimpse of the struggles that each woman must have experienced. Alice Woodby McKane (1865-1948) was Savannah's first female physician. During her adventurous life, she opened a training school for black nurses, lived for a time in Liberia, and established a hospital for women and children.

Gertrude Green was the first black female social worker in Savannah. Her career began in the first years of the Depression, when black women had limited opportunties, and spanned more than 50 years.

Phyllis Mack was committed to becoming a dentist. A single mother, the only black female in her class of 60 at the Medical College of Georgia, she graduated in the top five percent. After many attempts to get a bank loan to start a private practice, she finally succeeded. Her advice to black women: "You don't have to settle for a job or a marriage you don't like. Do what you want in life."

Savannah's Black First Ladies is an inspirational book for young women everywhere. It shows women working hard, dreaming big, and doing great things, at a time when most of them were told that it couldn't be done. Recommended for school library collections and for readers who would like to know more about the achievements of black women.

Pamela Howard-Oglesby collaborated with her long-time friend, Brenda L. Roberts, to conduct intensive research to bring their book to press. Both women are native Savannahians working to improve their communities.

Authors/Publicists: For promotion purposes, you may quote excerpts of up to 200 words from our reviews, with a link to the page on which the review is posted. ©Copyright to the review is held by the writer (review posting date appears on the review page). If you wish to reprint the full review, you may do so ONLY with her written permission, and with a link to Contact our Book Review Editor (bookreviews at with your request and she will forward it to the appropriate person.

StoryCircleBookReviews provides a review venue for women self-published authors and for women's books published by independent and university presses.

Email me with news about your book reviews

Sarton Women's Book Award

Your ad could be here.
Advertise with us!


Visit us on Facebook and Twitter and goodreads.

Buy books online through by simply clicking on the book cover or title. Your purchase will support our work of encouraging all women to tell their stories.
This title is currently available ONLY as an e-book