Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, an Augusta woman known for her Civil War-era diaries in addition to her later promotion of women’s rights, was honored by the Georgia Women of Achievement during March 13 ceremonies in Macon.
“We are very pleased to be able to honor Gertrude Clanton Thomas on behalf of the citizens of Georgia,” said Leigh Goff, GWA board president.
“Ms. Thomas and her family have given us quite a gift in sharing her memoirs detailing a pinnacle time in our country’s history. Her personal story of a socialite turned suffragist is truly an inspiration.”
Thomas is best known for the extensive journal she kept of her life before, during and after the Civil War. Duke University Library owns her journal, and an edited version of it was published in 1990 under the title “The Secret Eye.”
Considered a valuable resource for historians of the era, the journal spans the period between 1848 and 1889.
Thomas was active in Augusta, undertaking leadership positions in the Ladies’ Missionary Society of St. John’s Methodist Church in Augusta, the Hayne Circle literary society, the Ladies’ Confederate Memorial Association of Augusta, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
In the last years of her life, Thomas assumed leading roles in several civic and social organizations and described herself as a feminist and suffragist.
In 1899 Thomas was elected president of the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association, and she spent her last years speaking at various women’s suffrage conventions across the nation. In 1903 she was publicly commended by Susan B. Anthony and made a life member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Thomas joins almost 80 notable Georgia women who have been honored by GWA. The group recognizes women in Georgia’s history who have made outstanding contributions to the state and who inspire today’s Georgians.