Monday, December 28, 2009

28 December 1907 - An Escape from the Asylum

On this day in 1907, the Athens Banner published a front-page story about a young woman named Miss Este Parkman who had come to the local Y.W.C.A. claiming to be recently emancipated from the Hapeville orphanage and hoping to find a stenographer job in Athens. According the article, Miss Parkman was "tall, emaciated, even melancholy in her appearance."

When the lady disappeared the next day, it was discovered she was not from the orphanage, but had escaped from the asylum in Milledgeville, something "the authorities" at the asylum did not realize until the Y.W.C.A. called in concern over Miss Parkman's welfare. She was last seen purchasing a train ticket to Atlanta at the Southern depot, and nothing more was published about her in the surviving newspapers.

Many colleges and universities, including the University of Georgia, did not admit women in the early 20th century. For many young women, their only option was attending business school to learn stenography, shorthand, bookkeeping, and typing. The Y.W.C.A. offered these women, who frequently had leave their families to find office work in larger towns, a safe and reputable place to live. The Y.W.C.A. had women-only residences throughout the United States and all over the world. In Athens, the Y.W.C.A. was on the corner of N. Thomas and Washington Streets, where the Hilton Garden Inn is today.

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