Papers of Local Women’s Rights Activist and Educator: Lilialyce Akers

by Andrew Clark

Andrew Clark is currently pursuing his master’s in Public History. For the past year, Mr. Clark has been processing the Lilialyce Akers Papers.

Dr. Lilialyce Akers, ca. mid 1950’s while teaching at Midway Junior College

Dr. Lilialyce Akers, ca. mid 1950’s while teaching at Midway Junior College

The Lilialyce Akers Papers, located at the University of Louisville’s Archives and Special Collections, are the record of a life well-spent in the service of humanity. Dr. Akers was an academic, a human rights activist, and an advocate for women’s rights on a local, state, national and international stage.  Her papers serve as an important addition to the historical narrative of Louisville, Kentucky, as well as to the nation in the last half of the twentieth century.

The collection material spans from Akers’ undergraduate schooling at Wheaton College in the late 1930’s through her service in the American Red Cross during World War II, her graduate and doctoral work in Sociology at the University of Kentucky in the 1950’s, teaching positions at Midway Junior College, Morehead State College, Kentucky Southern College and the University of Louisville, ending with her death in 2008. The collection reflects the wide range of interests and activities that informed her life.

In 2001, after approximately 27 years of teaching, Dr. Akers received the “Distinguished Service” medal during the Celebration of Faculty Excellence.

In 2001, after approximately 27 years of teaching, Dr. Akers received the “Distinguished Service” medal during the Celebration of Faculty Excellence.

She was a committed educator whose career was spent at five colleges and universities in fifty plus years in academia.  Her interests and activities varied widely throughout her life but the constant theme is that of an engaged and committed social justice activist, primarily concerned with feminist issues.

The papers were donated in two separate segments.  The first was donated and processed in 2006, while Dr. Akers was still alive.  This initial donation consisted of professional and personal papers and ephemera from her work with women’s issues. The primary focus of this portion of the papers was concentrated on her efforts to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as her work with local political organizations.  The remainder of the collection was received by the archives after her death in 2008 and contained the additional personal papers as well as those of her husband Dr. Dee Ashley Akers.

As exemplified by this letter, the Lilialyce Akers Papers reflect her life-long activism related to women’s issues and equality. Dr. Akers served on the board of the Kentucky Women’s Agenda Coalition which worked to “improve the status of women in the Commonwealth.”

As exemplified by this letter, the Lilialyce Akers Papers reflect her life-long activism related to women’s issues and equality. Dr. Akers served on the board of the Kentucky Women’s Agenda Coalition which worked to “improve the status of women in the Commonwealth.”


3 Comments on “Papers of Local Women’s Rights Activist and Educator: Lilialyce Akers”

  1. Rebecca Kepner says:

    Great article about a wonderful woman, who made a great impact on the advancement for women. Well written by Mr. Clark

  2. read here says:

    Aw, this was a very good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a superb article… but what
    can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.

  3. Teena Halbig says:

    It was a great honor to have Dr. Lilialyce Akers as my mentor and wonderful friend. We had so many awesome times together working on events. We laughed a lot! I got her involved with the League of Women Voters when I was state President for 3 years and she got me involved with the United Nations Association of the United States of America, KY Division where I remain today as State President (over 4 years now). She was a great support and would say, “You are the President, just do it!” In 2016, I still think of her and the great fun we had and shared with other folks. I was glad she lived to meet and see Hillary Clinton run earlier for office but she would have immensely enjoyed listening to the debates for President today. In her honor, I recommended and we established the Akers Humanitarian Award that began in 2009; this year, the award will be presented to Sophie Maier in April 2016. I thought of her when House Resolution 6 for CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women was adopted in the 2016 KY General Assembly’s House of Representatives. KY is now the FIRST state to have state CEDAW legislation in the United States! She would have loved that. and would have loved to help UNA-USA KY in our fight and share our victory with us! She was generous to bequeath to U of L so her legacy lives on. She helped and supported so many women over the years. UNA-USA KY also planted a yellowwood tree at Juniper Hill in Frankfort and we held a dedication ceremony – board member, Barry Holder, often gives the board a report on how the tree is doing. We planted 3 trees total to honor two other members in addition to Dr. Lilialyce Akers. We all miss her! Teena Halbig


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