Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Women's Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Layli Maparyan

Second Advisor

Dr. Amira Jarmakani

Third Advisor

Dr. Clifford M. Kuhn

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Sharon Y. Nickols


ABSTRACT This work answers the question “Who was Frances Virginia?” by recovering the story of an Atlanta entrepreneur, Frances Virginia Wikle Whitaker, and her tea room foodservice business. It acknowledges “Frances Virginia,” as the public knew her; and focuses on her career as demonstrative of an under‐theorized form of women’s activism. Her education and proclivity in the once all‐female domain of home economics have important characteristics that are under‐ represented, and often misinterpreted, in today’s discourse. I use a womanist theoretical lens within a historical frame to examine her story as a home economist during the tea room movement of the U. S. feminist movement’s Transition Era, 1920s‐1960s. Together, these elements illuminate the significance of Frances Virginia and her particular form of activism.