Volume 77
Number 4

Health for All

Fear of Flying

Flying II: High Anxiety

Virtual Vietnam

Uncovering the Past

Wired New World

Enigma: Physics Band

Emory University

Association of Emory Alumni

Current News and Events

Emory Report



Sports Updates





















































When Evangeline T. Papageorge ’29G came to Emory in 1928 on a $500 fellowship, she was anxious to work, eager to help her recently widowed mother support her six brothers and sisters. “I’m going to work so hard,” she told her mother, “they won’t be able to do without me.”

And she did. Papageorge went on to become the first full-time female faculty member at Emory’s School of Medicine, teaching biochemistry and clinical chemistry from 1929 to 1956, and then its first dean of students. Papageorge died September 15 at the age of ninety-four.

Students were always the first priority for Papageorge. “To me, teaching was most important, the primary purpose of the medical school,” she said in an interview a few months before she died. “I liked it. I had many students say, ‘I never would have made it if it weren’t for you,’ and of course I knew that was a lot of baloney. But they should remember that I did everything I could to help them.”

In one of many such instances during her nineteen years as dean, a medical student was sent to her for falling asleep in class. When she learned that he was working weekends to support a wife and baby, Papageorge sought a scholarship for him and insisted he give up the weekend job. “After that,” she said, “he did well.”

Papageorge officially retired in 1975 but continued to serve on the alumni board and was a regent emeritus until her death. In 1993, alumni gave the first Evangeline Papageorge Teaching Award and have since presented the award annually to the faculty member deemed the best teacher in the medical school. A number of scholarships are given each year in her name.

The daughter of a Greek minister, Papageorge was born in Turkey and moved to Atlanta with her family in 1922. Her sister, Callie C. Canaris, worked as a medical technologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for thirty-two years, and the two had shared the same house on Springdale Road since 1958.

Papageorge earned a degree in chemistry from Agnes Scott College, a master’s degree from Emory, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Michigan. When Emory was developing its own Ph.D. program, she was a voice of patience and thoroughness. “I didn’t want to see Emory give a cheap Ph.D.,” she said. “There’s no good in that.”–P.P.P.

STANDING AMONG THE TOMBSTONES in the African-American section of the Oxford Historical Cemetery, assistant professor of anthropology Mark Auslander surveys the trimmed grass, flowerbeds bursting with gold and red mums, and floral arrangements placed on carefully tended graves. The orderly landscape is far removed from the wild thicket that covered the area a few years ago, making it impossible to view or visit graves.

The transformation, wrought by students, faculty, and community volunteers, has uncovered not only century-old markers but, says Auslander, the forgotten contributions of many who built and supported the University with their life’s labors.

“It’s revealed the hidden history of the University–a retelling from the African-American perspective,” says Auslander, who gave a Great Teachers Lecture, “Uncovering the Past at Oxford’s Segregated Cemetery,” in October at the Miller-Ward Alumni House. “Everyone who built every building at Emory, who worked there as chefs, as bricklayers, laundresses, chauffeurs, . . . their history is here as well.”

When Auslander’s sociology class toured the cemetery near the Oxford College campus in the winter of 1999 as part of a lesson on family rituals, they saw trees growing out of tombs and numerous broken and buried headstones overgrown with briers.

“To their credit, the students were curious about why that section was so poorly maintained and decided to look into it,” Auslander says. “They soon became both fascinated and outraged.”

The class discovered that Oxford’s only public cemetery had been segregated for more than one hundred and fifty years, divided into a “white” section–the final resting place of many of the town’s historical figures, including bishops Young J. Allen and James Osgood Andrew, and Emory presidents Atticus Haygood and Warren Candler–and a “black” section, where African-American ministers, townspeople, and slaves were buried.

A private organization, the Oxford Historical Cemetery Foundation, which received funds from the town, maintained the white side. Oxford historian and mathematics professor emeritus Marshall Elizer says the non-profit foundation, formed in 1965, consisted of a handful of well-meaning“little old ladies” in the community who raised money through bake sales and donations and decided to clean up the part of the cemetery where their relatives and ancestors were buried.

Auslander and others, however, believe deeply ingrained racism not only created the cemetery’s stark division but has helped to maintain it. Oxford students decided to work to restore the neglected area with the help of City Councilman J. P. Godfrey, who returned to Oxford in 1995 after twenty-seven years in the Air Force. His parents’ and grandparents’ graves were among those that had become inaccessible.

The class also did genealogical research and historical documentation, combing over census and town records to determine the identities and occupations of the hundreds of African Americans buried there, many in unmarked graves.

During the clean-up, the cemetery’s oldest tombstone was uncovered. It reads: “Potter, a colored minister of the ME Church, faithful, useful and respected. 1812-1851.” Students also discovered that Robert Hammond, the college’s head janitor for many years, is buried in Oxford cemetery, as is stone mason Israel Godfrey, grandfather of J. P. Godfrey Jr., who constructed Day Chapel at Oxford College.

Oxford student Rebecca Weave researched census records from the late 1800s in the Newton County Public Library and the Oxford library, and discovered the names of Israel Godfrey’s mother and father. “That was very fulfilling for me. I had discovered something no one else had discovered and I had helped a family trace their roots in the process,” Weaver said. “That small piece of information was the key that was needed to unlock several other answers.”

African Americans weren’t officially able to attend classes at Emory’s Atlanta or Oxford campuses until 1962, even though their families may have worked at Emory for four or five generations. Just as Emory eventually was integrated, so too was Oxford’s public cemetery–for years, plots have been sold without regard to race. And in July, the Oxford City Council and the Oxford Historical Foundation reached an agreement that guarantees perpetual care of all the graves.

Volunteer cemetery work days continue, drawing a blend of students and faculty, town leaders, Oxford Dean Dana K. Greene and her family, visiting scholars, and white and black townspeople. Emory’s MARIAL center, where Auslander is a core faculty member, donated flowers and a cedar tree, which were planted by Oxford College freshmen in the northeast section.

“This past Easter, there were people here everywhere with flowers,” says Godfrey, motioning to the carefully tended and decorated graves surrounding his own family’s markers. “Many of the older women said it was the first time they could come and visit the grave sites. It was a wonderful thing to see.”–M.J.L.

Photos, documentation, and student research stemming from the cemetery project have resulted in several exhibitions, including “Tragic Beauty,” which can be viewed on Emory’s MARIAL Center Web site (www.emory.edu/COLLEGE/MARIAL/exhibitions/cemetery/Titlep.html), and “A Dream Deferred: African Americans at Emory and Oxford Colleges, 1836-1968,” on display in Woodruff Library’s Special Collections.


Also in Précis:

Crawford Long Hospital undergoes $270 million renovation

Doc Hollywood: The Musical

A Journey of Reconciliation

Growing Green

Library augments literary holdings

Depression and high blood pressure make deadly combination

A Race of Singers

The Poetry of Natasha Trethewey and Janet McAdams ’96PhD

Faith Journey: Daniel B. Cole ’93C



© 2002 Emory University