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“E” is for Ellis, Mary Gordon (1890-1934). Legislator.

“E” is for Ellis, Mary Gordon (1890-1934). Legislator. A native of Williamsburg County, Ellis graduated from Winthrop. In 1924 she was elected superintendent of education for Jasper County, serving until 1928. She stressed better teacher training and firmly believed that education was for all children regardless of color. The county’s representative had her fired. Her response was to oppose him in the next general election. When he filed for the S.C. Senate, she did so as well and defeated him. Taking her seat in 1929, “Mary G” as her male senate colleagues called her became the first woman to serve in that body. She was an active senator and proposed legislation affecting women and African Americans. Ill with ovarian cancer, Mary Gordon Ellis was unable to campaign for re-election and was defeated.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.