Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

John Kneebone


This investigation explores the relationships and experiences in the urban community that connected black and white women to understand the complexities of Jim Crow, its breakdown, and the subsequent expansion of female activism in Richmond, Virginia. By examining the South’s famous department stores, Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads, this research attempts to focus on female-created and female-oriented spaces within downtown Richmond, from 1954 until 1973, and draws a line from the Thalhimer boycott staged by African-American women in 1961 to the sit-in performed by white women in the Thalhimers male-only soup bar in 1970. Historical context is developed to show changing patterns surrounding racism and gender roles during the 1950s and 1960s within urban space, particularly department stores. The changes made within white and black women’s organizations, such as the YWCA, alongside these downtown stores, supplied important social and employment opportunities for women in the community and throughout the state, and influenced women of different cultures and races. The formation of multi-racial female coalitions within areas of employment set the stage for the formation of the women’s Movement in Richmond as women displayed subtle forms of feminist activism within the conservative environment of the Commonwealth.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2011

Included in

History Commons