Magnolia Matriarchs: Six Women's Contributions to the Community Press In Mississippi

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

David Davies

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


Historically, the journalism industry has been a predominantly male arena, but there has been one area in this field where women have played a major role. Women have consistently held a great deal of power in the field of community newspapers. Many of these smaller publications depended greatly on women in their ranks and would have not survived had it not been for the tireless devotion of these women. Nowhere was this phenomenon more greatly seen than in the South. Mississippi played host to many prominent community newspapers that survived due to the great labors of many pioneering women of the press. Mary Dawson Cain, Betty Werlein Carter, Hazel Brannon Smith, Rose Budd Stevens, Norma Hamilton Fields, and Rubye Del Harden paved the way for future generations of women in journalism, breaking down barriers and helping to establish a level of excellence for women in this industry. These women forged new ground for their gender during a time in which women were not always visible in roles outside the home. Understanding the power that a united front could bring, these women put aside any differences of opinions and offered a helping hand to one another, aware that women would never advance in this industry without a strong sisterhood of support. These women are just a sampling of the many women that tirelessly worked to improve the condition of women in this field and to enhance the community press in their beloved state. They continue to influence the field of journalism and will forever be an inspiration for generations to come. These magnolia matriarchs are well deserving of their place in the history books for the courageous and illustrious legacy they have left behind.