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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Singing Helps this Alzheimer's Patient to Remember

Ted McDermott has Alzheimer's disease and often struggles to remember who his family and friends are. Therefore, in an attempt to make his life better, his son Mac started looking for ways to improve his dad's memory. His father has a huge passion for music, and even spent some of his younger years singing in bars and clubs across the United Kingdom. Despite his severe memory loss, Mac realized that his father still recognizes his favorite tunes and even sings along to them when they come on. In fact, his knowledge of songs is so vast, he is known as "The Songaminute Man." Furthermore, when he is singing, he seems to remember who his friends and family are.
Therefore, Mac started to sing along with his dad and the pair have now begun to record their singing sessions - they're working on raising money for Alzheimer's research through crowdfunding, and from the proceeds of their album sales.
This terrible disease affects so many people around the world, and while Ted McDermott still struggles with day-to-day life, Mac has found a sweet way to bring their family together while also raising money for a great cause.

Check out a short clip of them performing together below:


Elton John's Greatest Hits

In his five-decade career, the Rocket Man, best known as Sir Elton John, has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the most successful solo artists of all time. His career began in 1969, and he has since played more than 3,500 concerts in over 80 countries. He has had more than 50 Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive Number 1 US albums. One of his most loved songs, Candle in the Wind (the 1997 edition), sold over 33 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts in the process.
Picking a top 16 list from Elton John's career is a tall order. Nevertheless, much like his many public personas and musical identities, no matter what songs you prefer, there's always something new to find and love in every one. So, while these songs will take you back to your past, we hope that you enjoy this week's Music Box!

Crocodile Rock (1972)
Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1976)
Philadelphia Freedom (1975)
Bennie and the Jets (1974)
Sacrifice (1989)
Your Song (1970)
Candle in the Wind (1997)
Can You Feel the Love Tonight (1994)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
Daniel (1971)
Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me (1974)
Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word (1976)
Rocket Man (1972)
I'm Still Standing (1983)
Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting (1973)
Little Jeannie (1980)

Children Talk About Love

'Love' is one of the quintessential capacities of the human condition. But, if you were asked the question 'What does love mean?' how would you respond? In a quest to discover children's perception of love, a research group, led by Lecturer and Author Leo Buscaglia, asked a group of children aged 4 through 8 to answer this question. Their goal however, was to find the most caring kid. But along the way, they also discovered that the kids' perception on love was truly profound and deep. 

When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.
Rebecca, age 8

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.
Billy, age 4

Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired. 
Terri, age 4

Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs. Chrissy, age 6

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.
Danny, age 7

Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.
Emily, age 8

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.
Noelle, age 7

Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford. 
Chris, age 7


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Christina Crawford

Christina Crawford (born June 11, 1939) is an American writer and actress, best known as the author of Mommie Dearest, an autobiographical account of alleged child abuse by her adoptive mother, actress Joan Crawford. She is also known for small roles in various television and film projects, such as Joan Borman Kane in the soap opera The Secret Storm and Monica George in the Elvis Presley film Wild in the Country.

Early life and education

Crawford was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1939 to unmarried teen parents.
According to Christina Crawford's personal interview with Larry King, her father was married to another woman, and supposedly in the Navy, while her mother was unmarried. Christina Crawford was adopted from a baby broker in the state of Nevada because Joan Crawford was formerly denied an adoption by social services for being an unfit candidate in California in 1940. Christina Crawford maintains that Joan Crawford did not have a positive relationship with her own mother or with her brother, which contributed to social services' conclusion, as well as her multiple divorces. Subsequent documentation showed that the adoption was handled by Georgia Tann through Tann's infamous Tennessee Children's Home Society. Christina was one of five children adopted by Joan Crawford.[1] Her siblings are Christopher, adopted in 1943, and twin girls, Catherine (Cathy) and Cynthia (Cindy), adopted in 1947. Another boy, also named Christopher, was adopted in 1942 but he was reclaimed by his birth mother.[2]
Christina Crawford has stated that her childhood was affected by her adopted mother's alcoholism and violent menstrual mood swings. At the age of ten she was sent to Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, California, where many other celebrity children were in attendance. However, her mother removed her from Chadwick because of alleged "misbehavior" with several of the male students. Joan Crawford then placed her in a Catholic boarding school, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Cañada (now the city of La Cañada Flintridge), California, and curtailed Christina's outside contact until her graduation. After graduating from Flintridge, Crawford moved from California to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon School of Drama and then to New York City where she studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan. After seven years, she gained a bachelor of arts from UCLA.

Personal life

Christina met Harvey Medlinsky, a Broadway stage manager, while attending acting school. They were married briefly.[1] She met her second husband, film producer David Koontz, while she worked in public relations for Getty Oil.[1]

Acting career

Crawford appeared in summer stock theatre, including a production of Splendor in the Grass. She also acted in a number of Off-Broadway productions, including In Color on Sundays (1958).[3] She also appeared in At Chrismastime (1959) and Dark of the Moon (1959) at the Fred Miller Theater in Milwaukee,[4] and The Moon Is Blue (1960).[5]
In 1960, Crawford accepted a role in the film Force of Impulse,[6] which was released in 1961. Also in 1961, Crawford appeared in a small role in Wild in the Country, a film starring Elvis Presley. That year, she made a guest appearance on Dean Miller's NBC celebrity interview program Here's Hollywood,[7] promoting the films. In 1962, she appeared in the play The Complaisant Lover. She played five character parts in Ben Hecht's controversial play Winkelberg; that same year, she appeared on the CBS courtroom drama The Verdict is Yours.[8] In October 1965 she appeared in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, with Myrna Loy, a friend of her mother. She also had a role in Faces, a 1968 film directed by John Cassavetes and starring John Marley and Gena Rowlands.
Christina played "Joan Borman Kane" on the soap opera The Secret Storm in New York from 1968 until 1969. When she went on sick leave in October 1968, Joan Crawford, then over 60 years old, asked for the role of the 24-year-old character. She did this without mentioning it to her daughter, and under the guise of "holding the role" for Christina, so that the part wouldn't be recast during her absence, appearing in four episodes. Viewers increased 40% during this replacement time, and Christina, already feeling betrayed, also felt embarrassed due to her mother's seemingly intoxicated performance.[9] Eventually let go from the series, Christina believed her mother's interference had contributed to her departure. The producers, however, claimed that the character and her storyline had simply run its course.
Crawford would also appear on other TV programmes, including Medical Center, Marcus Welby, M.D., Matt Lincoln, Ironside and The Sixth Sense.[10]

Career after mother's death

After Joan Crawford died in 1977, Christina and her brother Christopher discovered that their mother had disinherited them from her $2 million estate, her will citing "reasons which are well-known to them".[11] In November 1977 Christina and her brother sued to invalidate their mother's will, which she signed on October 18, 1976. Cathy LaLonde (another Crawford daughter) and her husband, Jerome, the complaint charged, "took deliberate advantage of decedent's seclusion and weakened and distorted mental and physical condition to insinuate themselves" into Miss Crawford's favor.[12] A court settlement was reached on July 13, 1979, awarding Christina and Christopher $55,000 from their mother's estate.[13]
In 1978, Crawford's book Mommie Dearest was released. It accused her mother of being a cruel, violent, neglectful, and manipulative narcissistic parent, as she adopted her children for publicity instead of out of a desire to be a responsible, humane mother. It also raised public discourse about child abuse, which was just beginning to be widely acknowledged as a problem.[1] In 1981, a movie version of the same title was released, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford and Diana Scarwid as Christina. The film, while critically panned, went on to gross more than $39 million worldwide from a $5 million budget, and garnered five Golden Raspberry Awards. The film is now regarded as an unintentional comedy and a cult classic. Christina has published subsequent books, including Survivor. For seven years she served as a member of Los Angeles' Inter-Agency Council on Abuse and Neglect Associates, during which time she campaigned for the reform of laws regarding child abuse and child trafficking.[1]
After a near-fatal stroke in 1981, Crawford spent five years in rehabilitation before moving to the Northwest.[1] She ran a bed and breakfast called "Seven Springs Farms" in Tensed, Idaho, between 1994 and 1999.[1] She formed Seven Springs Press in 1998 to publish the 20th-anniversary edition of Mommie Dearest in paperback from the original manuscript. This included material omitted from the first printing about the years following her graduation from high school.
In 1999 Crawford began working as a director of marketing at the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Idaho. On November 22, 2009, she was appointed county commissioner in Benewah County, Idaho, by Governor Butch Otter,[14] though she lost her bid for election in November 2010.[15] In 2011, Crawford founded the non-profit Benewah Human Rights Coalition and served as the organization's first president.[16] In 2013, she made a documentary titled Surviving Mommie Dearest.


External links


Georgia Tann – The Baby Thief

From 1924 through 1950, Beulah George “Georgia” Tann ran the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, from a stately home on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, TN. Tann used it as a front for an illegal foundling home and adoption agency that placed over 5,000 newborn infants and children, from toddlers up to age 16, to sell to what Ms. Tann called “high type” families in 48 states.  

She used manipulation, deception, pressure tactics, threats, and brute force to take children from mainly poor single mothers in a 5 state area to sell to wealthy parents up until outrage, lawsuits, and complaints spurred a state investigation into her tactics closed her down in 1950.  
Protected by the infamous Edward Hull “Boss” Crump, she regularly altered and destroyed the records of the children “processed” through her custody and did not conduct checks on the adoption homes to which she sent children. Hers was a complicated story: Ms. Tann craved the wealth and power that her position and role afforded her – hopefully to eclipse her locally famous father who was a judge in Mississippi and who had prohibited her from entering the field of law. She delivered speeches about adoption in Washington, New York, and other major cities and was consulted by Eleanor Roosevelt regarding child welfare. So many children died while in Tann’s care that at one point, the infant mortality rate in Memphis, TN was highest in the country and many more deaths were never reported.
Notable celebrities such as Joan Crawford, June Allyson, and her husband Dick Powell, Smiley Burnette, and Pearl Buck used her services as well as the parents of New York governor Herbert Lehman and professional wrestler Ric Flair. Tann’s death prior to prosecution in 1950 led to more stringent laws on adoption in Tennessee in 1951. Fewer than 10% of these stolen children were ever reunited with parents or siblings due to the complicity of local and state officials such as Juvenile Court Judge Camille Kelley, who provided about 20% of the children adopted out by Tann, and difficulty finding true and accurate documentation for identification. Cindy Lou Presto was one of the children adopted by her and was reunited with her mother after 32 years. She was abducted by her while she was playing at a park when she was just a toddler. Two of her former children, Lynne Heinz and Nancy Turner, are looking for their birth families.

Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 13, 1989 episode. It inspired the movies, “Missing Children: A Mother’s Story” and “Stolen Babies.” The book, The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption, by Barbara Bisantz Raymond, was published in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.


Solved. Soon after the broadcast, Lynn was reunited with her father and two half-brothers. Nancy was also able to locate and reunite with her sister, Evelyn Routh, whom she hadn’t seen in over forty years.


Source: Baby Thief Web-Site
Follow us: @adoptiontraffic /  Adoption Trafficking – FB
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To join live Adoption Truth and Transparency FB group discussion visit here.
To get a copy of Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists visit here.


The Movie: "StolenBabies"


To childless couples, Georgia Tann was a salvation. From 1924 to 1950, Tann headed the Tennessee Children's Home Society, a highly respected adoption agency. During her tenure, permanent homes were found for more than 5,000 babies. Joan Crawford, Mary Pickford and Dick Powell and June Allyson were just a few of the famous people who received their children from the home. But Tann guarded a deep, dark secret: a vast majority of these children were actually stolen from their natural parents.

Lifetime's new movie, "Stolen Babies," premiering Thursday, dramatizes this shocking true story. Lea Thompson stars in the drama as a county welfare agent who works closely with the society, only to discover the illegality in adoption procedures; Mary Tyler Moore plays Tann.

Executive producer Kim Moses' interest in Tann was sparked when she read an article about her in a newspaper. But when she contacted the welfare department, the governor's office and the public relations office of Tennessee, everyone disavowed knowledge of Tann. "I felt that was curious, since it covered such a long period of time," Moses says. "I think it is really a mar on the state of Tennessee. It is something they are not happy about, so they really don't want to make it a part of that history."

So Moses and her partners, Ian Sander and J. Moses, began doing independent research. They found a social worker in Tennessee who had taken over the home after Tann died of cancer in 1950, and was responsible for writing the current laws to protect adopted children.

"She was the first one to be suspicious of Georgia Tann because she was putting together statistics (on adoptions)," Moses says. "There was a high percentage of children in the adoption system in Tennessee from (a certain) county who had mental problems. There were repetitive adoptions. People would bring them back because of their behavior."

Though there also were a number of Tennessee families awaiting children, there were large numbers of out-of-state adoptions. In Tennessee, adoptions were free, but Tann was able to charge any amount for out-of-state adoptions.

"Why would they be adopting so many children from out of state when in Tennessee they were still waiting for children?" Sander says.

The stolen children came mainly from poor, uneducated families.

"Many of the homes they were adopted to were financially very well off," Moses says, "even though they were not from good backgrounds. There was this story where they was a little girl who was adopted out to a wealthy family, and she ate garbage because they didn't feed her. But then there were other children who did get to college."

Tann's rule endured, Sander says, because of the Tennessee political machine. She worked with Judge Camille Kelly to "legally" get the children away from their natural parents.

"When there was a judge who went up against them, he found himself absolutely exiled on the bench," Sander says. "There was a flu epidemic and 40 children died because (Tann) wouldn't give them penicillin because she thought it was too expensive. When a doctor tried to uncover that, he found himself out of a job."

No one was ever prosecuted for the illegal adoptions. Tann destroyed many of the adoption records. She died before she was brought to trial; Kelly resigned her post.

Mary Tyler Moore was drawn to the project because she felt that Tann was a fascinating character. "I wanted to play that character because I am sure she was a product of her time," says Moore, who is almost unrecognizable as the matronly Tann. "If you have a choice between raising a child in a wealthy home with little love, or a poor home with a lot of love, there is no question the children would do better in the wealthy home. That was the conventional wisdom."

Tann was the daughter of a doctor who was from the wrong side of the tracks. "She was not accepted by Tennessee society, so she used this position for power," Moore says. "She had leverage to work her way into the place she wanted to be. With Camille Kelly, they would look at somebody--a worker who was temporarily unable to support his family. They would take the children under the guise of temporarily protecting them, and then send them out for adoption. Because of the disclosure laws at the time, once that family was back on its feet and came looking for the children, they couldn't trace them. It was a heinous thing."

Thompson, who plays the idealistic social worker, says "Stolen Babies" is all about class. "It was really about the poor versus the rich," Thompson says. "'There was a heavy class system in the South--the poor white trash and the rich people. I totally see both sides of the coin, because I have really rich friends and they can't have babies and when a woman wants a baby, man, it is like an intense physical desire."

"Stolen Babies," Moore says, is an important piece not just because it shows how Tann persuaded herself that she was in the right but because it reveals "how people can convince themselves that they are right in all areas of life, when they are really doing terrible things. I am almost saying, don't be so sure of yourself, no matter what you are doing. Look very carefully at your motives and the outcome and be aware of other people's opinions before you take action."

"Stolen Babies" premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. and repeats Saturday at 6 p.m. on Lifetime.



The Tennessee Children's Home Society Lot At Elmwood

Image may contain: 1 person, tree, plant, flower, outdoor and nature

Within Elmwood’s extensive archives T-#504 is short for Turley Lot Number 504.  Of all the lots in Elmwood this is the only one that is forever imprinted on my mind. The mention of T-#504 brings to mind anger, disbelief, shock, curiosity, and especially sadness of the most profound degree.

The Lot Book says that this area is “Reserved for the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.   For those of you not familiar with the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, this was the agency run by Memphis’s infamous Georgia Tann, also known as the “Baby Thief”.

Visit T-#504 and you will see nothing but a grassy patch of ground.  No markers.  Yet within this plot are buried 19 children who died under the supervision of Miss Tann.

Image may contain: 1 person, plant, tree and outdoor

The first burial was on September 17th, 1923 and this little girl’s name as registered in the Elmwood records was Maud.  The last burial, Robert, was on October 10, 1949, less than a year before the agency was formally exposed for what it was and shut down.   Eight other children also have full names listed.  It is known, however, that Ms. Tann commonly changed the names of the children so it will never be known if these are the actual birth names.  Ten of the children are only listed as Baby Estelle, Baby Billy, Baby Herbert, and so on. 

Thousands of children went through this agency and were often deceptively stolen from their legitimate parent/s and sold at a profit through Tann’s nefarious ‘adoption system’.  Hundreds of children died while under her care from neglect, abuse, and improper medical care. No one knows for sure what happened to their bodies.  One story, as told in Barbara Raymond’s book The Baby Thief,  has it that some of the bodies were disposed of through an agreement  Miss Tann had with a local mortuary to cremate the remains. It was said that she liked cremation because ‘graves left a trail’. 
T-#504 is one small, sad, visible reminder of that ‘trail’.  The children buried there still wait for a marker to tell the world who they were and what happened to them.


The Hollywood Baby Snatcher:

Georgia Tann
George Beulah Tann (Georgia)

The sinister story of the woman who stole children and sold them to the stars

The baby snatcher: Georgia Tann stole children from their real families and sold them for her own profit

As she watched her baby coughing in her cot in a corner of her tiny apartment, Alma Sipple felt increasingly desperate.

A single mother in Tennessee, she could not afford medical care for ten-month-old Irma. Suddenly, a knock on the door heralded a turn in her fate: there stood a woman with close-cropped grey hair, round wireless glasses and a stern air.

She exuded authority as she explained she was the director of a local orphanage and had come to help. Alma rushed to show the lady her sickly child.

Examining the baby, the woman offered to pass her off as her own at the local hospital in order to obtain free treatment. She warned Alma not to accompany her, explaining: 'If the nurses know you're the mother, they'll charge you.'

Lifting the child from the cot, the woman turned on her heel and disappeared. Two days later, Alma was told her baby had died.

In fact, Irma had been flown to an adoptive home in Ohio. Alma would not see her daughter again for 45 years.

For far from being her saviour, the woman who had taken Irma was a baby thief.

For 30 years, Georgia Tann made millions selling children. A network of scouts, corrupt judges and politicians helped her steal babies. She also targeted youngsters on their way home from school, promising them ice cream to tempt them away from their homes.

Legal papers would be signed saying they were abandoned - most would never see their families again.
Now, her story has been revealed in a new book. After painstakingly contacting her surviving victims and a forensic search through the archives, Barbara Bisantz Raymond calculates that Tann sold more than 5,000 children - and killed scores through neglect.

During the time she ran her 'business', the infant mortality rate in Memphis was the highest in the country.

Tann molested some of the girls in her care and placed children with paedophiles.

She charged fees to couples desperate to be parents

Some victims were sold as underage farm hands or domestic skivvies. Others were starved, beaten and raped. The lucky ones were sold to wealthy parents, with Hollywood stars, including Lana Turner and Joan Crawford - who adopted twins Cathy and Cynthia - lining up for babies.

Some of the children were featured in magazine articles. A number were placed with families in Britain.
So, who was Georgia Tann and how did she come to ruin so many lives?

Born in Hickory, Mississippi, in 1891, her father, George, was a high court judge and her mother, Beulah, a Southern belle. Inside their lavish house, all was not well.

Sold: Joan Crawford with her adopted daughters Cathy and Cynthia. Many other victims of Georgia were not so lucky
Sold: Joan Crawford with her adopted daughters Cathy and Cynthia. Many other victims of Georgia were not so lucky

Tann's father was an arrogant, domineering womaniser. From an early age, it became clear Georgia was a disappointment to her strait-laced parents.

Big-boned and broad-shouldered, she wore flannel shirts and trousers: unacceptable clothing for a woman at the time. A car accident had left her with a limp.

Social work was one of the few acceptable careers for women of Tann's class, and despite having no empathy with the vulnerable, she saw it as an escape route from her staid home.

She developed her own theories on society. In eugenic language which would be echoed to infamous effect in Nazi Germany, she described wealthy people as 'of the higher type'.

She considered the poverty stricken young women left in poverty by the Depression as 'breeders', privately referring to them as 'cows'. She argued that poor people were incapable of proper parenting.
After getting a job at the Mississippi Children's Home-Finding Society, she began to translate her beliefs into action.

At the time, adoption was uncommon in the USA. Tann would change that.

At first, she simply placed orphans for adoption. But soon, she realised she could make money by charging hefty fees to couples desperate to become parents.

Mothers were falsely told their newborn had died

By 1920, exploiting the lack of regulations on adoption and her father's position as a judge, Tann began placing children she had kidnapped from poor women.

One of the first mothers she targeted was Rose Harvey. One spring morning in 1922, Tann drove her Ford Model T to a cabin in Jasper County, Mississippi.

Asleep inside was pregnant Rose, who was young, poor, widowed and suffering from diabetes. Her two-year-old son, Onyx, was playing on the back porch.

Tann lured the sturdy, black-haired, brown-eyed boy into her car. Her father signed legal papers declaring Rose to be an unfit mother and Onyx an abandoned child. He was placed with an adoptive family. Rose engaged a lawyer, but was unable to regain custody.

In 1924, Tann started work at the Tennessee Children's Home Society, where she turned part-time baby snatching into big business.

'I can still hear her steps down the hallway. She had big feet and wore black lace-up shoes,' says a former resident at the children's home.

'She always went upstairs to see the babies. There would be masses of them one day. They'd be gone the next.'

Lana Turner
Wealthy parent: Lana Turner, pictured in the film Another Time, Another Place, was another Hollywood actress to adopt a child through Georgia

Tann acquired the protection of Memphis's corrupt and all powerful mayor, Edward Hull Crump, and eventually set up her own orphanage, at 1556 Poplar Avenue.

By then, she had met her lesbian partner, Ann Atwood Hollinsworth, who helped Tann ferry babies around the country - as far from their natural parents as possible.

Tann adopted a daughter, June, in 1922. June's daughter, Vicci, says: 'Mother said Georgia Tann was a cold fish; she gave her material things, but nothing else. I don't know why she bothered to adopt her.'

By the Thirties, Tann was charging wealthy couples up to £100,000 in today's money for babies. So, how did she arrange a steady flow of children she could sell?

In some cases, single parents would drop off their children at nursery - when they came back to collect them, they would be told they had been taken away by welfare officers.

Tann offered accommodation to children whose parents were in trouble and targeted the most beautiful infants she could find, dressing them in lace outfits to meet prospective clients.

Older children would be instructed to 'sit on that man's lap and call him daddy'.

Newborns were most in demand. Tann bribed maternity hospital nurses, who falsely told mothers their babies had died.

Irene Green remembers being told her baby was stillborn. 'But I heard him cry!' she protested. She asked to see the body, but was told it had been 'disposed of'. In fact, Georgia's workers had snatched the child.

Tann would falsify birth certificates

Mary Reed was a typical victim. In 1943, aged 18, she gave birth to a baby boy. She was barely conscious when she was presented with a 'routine paper' to sign by a woman dressed in white.
By the time Mary came round and asked for her baby, the child was in New Jersey.

She hired a lawyer but never got her child back. Tann would alter the children's records and falsify birth certificates to make them more appealing to prospective adopters.

Their mother would be described as 'the daughter of a doctor' who had fallen pregnant accidentally, while the father would be 'a medical student'.

She knocked years off the children's age, so they appeared precocious - and to stop them being traced.
Some youngsters were accused of disappointing their adoptive families. Joy Barner was told as a teenager by her father: 'I paid 500 dollars for you - I could have gotten a good hunting dog for a lot less. You come from the lowest scum on earth.'

She later found out she had been stolen in 1925 from a loving family living on a houseboat.

Many of the children were abused. Jim Lambert and his three siblings were taken from their mother by Tann in 1932.
Adoption remains popular in Hollywood: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have adopted three children but thankfully evil Georgia is no longer around to organise the placements

The Chicago couple he was placed with divorced and Jim's stepmother hung him up from a hook in the basement.

He and his siblings eventually traced their birth mother, only to find she had died. In her Bible, beside the names of her stolen family she had written: 'The children of a brokenhearted mother. I have no one to love me now.'

He later said: 'I feel angry, frustrated, as if I was cheated out of a whole lot of life.'

Billy Hale recalled being driven away from his mother, crying, in a limousine, with two women in black.

His loving adoptive parents repeatedly reassured him no such event had occurred.

Through his childhood, he suffered from seemingly motiveless rages. It was only many years later, when he researched his background, that he realised his memory was correct.

He tracked down his mother, Mollie, only to be told by her brother she had died of cancer eight years previously, calling out for her son at the end.

He was told: 'She looked for you all her life, Bill.'

'She was a relentless, cold-blooded demon'

By 1935, Tann had placed children in every U.S. state. A social worker who knew her says: 'She placed with no regard to whether children would be happy in their adoptive homes. She wanted to get her hands on every child she could.'

Among the most disturbing cases are the adoptions by single men of young teenagers - Bisantz Raymond suspects they were paedophiles.

Keen to make more money, Tann began running 'Georgia's Christmas Baby Ads' in the local newspaper under the headline: 'Want a real, live Christmas present?'

A brilliant publicist, she gave lectures on adoption, arguing that adopted children 'turn out better' than birth children, saying: 'Ours is a selective process. We select the child and we select the home.'
She was lauded in the national Press as 'the foremost leading light in adoption laws'.

Eleanor Roosevelt sought her counsel regarding child welfare, and President Truman invited her to his inauguration.

But by 1940, alerted by the rising infant mortality rate in the city, some people were on to Tann.

'She was a relentless, cold-blooded demon,' says a paediatrician who tried to curb her. 'She got bigger and bigger the more power she had. She was pompous and self-important, riding around in a Cadillac driven by a uniformed chauffeur. She terrorised everyone.'

By 1950, officials began a long-overdue investigation into Tann's business. State investigator Robert Taylor reported the horror of what had taken place at Tann's orphanage, saying: 'Her babies died like flies.'

Infants were kept in appalling conditions in suffocating heat. Some were sedated until they could be sold. Many were ill. Some were sexually abused - Tann preyed on young girls and a male caretaker would take little boys into the woods.

A news reporter believed he saw a body being buried in the garden.

In 1945, a bout of dysentery caused the deaths of between 40 and 50 children in less than four months.

The damage suffered at Tann's hands could never be undone

The net was closing, but Tann would evade justice. Three days before her death due to cancer, the governor of Tennessee revealed at a press conference that Tann was not the 'angel of adoption' she claimed to be.

He did not mention the grieving parents or dead babies, but focused on the illegal profits she had made while receiving state funding.

Conveniently for the corrupt politicians who had collaborated in her black market baby trade, Tann was too sick to be questioned about her crimes. She died in her four-poster bed at 4.20am on September 15, 1950.

What became of her victims? Many never saw their families again - after Tann's crimes came to light, there was no attempt to return children to their rightful homes.

They were granted rights to their birth certificates and adoption records only in 1995, after a long battle. A small number were reunited with their birth mothers, but the damage they had suffered at Tann's hands could never be undone.

Forty-five years after Tann had walked into her apartment, Alma Sipple finally found Irma, but they were unable to form a lasting relationship.

'Only someone who has lost a child this way can know how horrible it is,' says Alma. 'There's a hole in my heart that will never be filled.'
  • The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond (Metro, £18.99). To order a copy at £17.10 (P&P free), tel: 0845 155 0720


Kelleygrams: Signed Edition Hardcover – January 1, 1950

by Camille McGee Kelley (Author), Photos (Illustrator), Mary Pickford (Foreword)

A collection of wisdom gathered from the courtroom of renowned Southern judge, Camille Kelley. She was implicated in the infamous "Baby for Sale" Scandal in Memphis during the 1940's with Georgia Tann, the director of The Tennessee Children's Home of Memphis, Tennessee. Judge Kelley, without due process of law, would place children with The Tennessee Children's Home, and Georgia Tann, its director, would deliver them to Los Angeles for placement with Movie Stars and wealthy Los Angeles families far away from Memphis. In 1948, Anti-Crump Governor, Gordon Browning appointed a young prominent lawyer, Bob Taylor, a descendant of two Tennessee Governors, to investigate rampant rumors of baby selling. Mr. Taylor staked out the Tennessee Children's Home, and then followed a nurse with several infants to the Memphis Airport where they both boarded a plane to Los Angeles. Mr. Taylor followed the nurse to a hotel where he witnessed the baby transfer in the lobby of a hotel. Shortly thereafter, Judge Kelley, no longer protected by political boss, E.H. Crump, was allowed to retire, and Georgia Tann died before she could be prosecuted. The foreword to this book was written by Mary Pickford. Several books, television documentaries and exposes were done on this scandal which ruined many innocent lives in the process.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 100 pages
  • Publisher: By Author (January 1, 1950)
  • ASIN: B0007F9EPU
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
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Edward Hull (E.H.) Crump

E.H. Crump cph.3b20183.jpg 
Edward Hull "Boss" Crump in 1945
Edward Hull "Boss" Crump (October 2, 1874 – October 16, 1954) was an American politician from Memphis, Tennessee. Representing the Democratic Party, he was the dominant force in the city's politics for most of the first half of the 20th century, during which the city had a commission form of government. He also dominated Tennessee state politics for most of the time from the 1920's to the 1940's. He was elected and served as mayor of Memphis from 1910 through 1915, and again briefly in 1940. But, he effectively appointed every mayor elected from 1915 to 1954.


A native of Holly Springs in northern Mississippi, where he was born in 1874, Crump at the age of 19 moved to Memphis, Tennessee on September 21, 1893, according to the Holly Springs Reporter.When he first arrived in Memphis, the ongoing Panic of 1893, the worst recession in the United States history to that time, made it hard for Crump to find work. Eventually, he obtained a clerical position with Walter Goodman Cotton Company located on Front Street in downtown Memphis. This was the start of a successful business career as a broker and trader.

In early 1901, Crump began seriously courting a 23-year-old young woman by the name of Bessie Byrd McLean. Bessie, or "Betty," McLean was a prominent Memphis socialite and has been described as "one of the city's most beautiful and most sought after women." She was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Robert McLean. Her father was then serving as the vice president of the William R. Moore Dry Goods Company. Crump and McLean were married on January 22, 1902 at the Calvary Episcopal Church.


Alongside his rising business career, Crump began to make the political connections that served him for the rest of his life. He was a delegate to the Tennessee Democratic State Convention in 1902 and 1904. In 1905, he was named to the municipal Board of Public Works, and was elected to the powerful position of Commissioner of Fire and Police in 1907, among three commissioners who governed the city.

Starting in the 1910's, Crump began to build a political machine which came to have statewide influence. He was particularly adept in his use of what were at the time two politically weak minority groups in Tennessee: blacks and Republicans. Unlike most Southern Democrats of his era, Crump was not opposed to blacks voting; Memphis blacks were reliable Crump machine voters for the most part. The party often paid the poll taxes required by state law since the late 1880's; otherwise this requirement resulted in disenfranchising many poor blacks. One of Crump's lieutenants in the black community was funeral director N. J. Ford, whose family (in the persons of several sons, including Harold Sr. and John Ford, daughter Ophelia, and grandson Harold, Jr.) became influential in Memphis, state and national politics, continuing to be so today. A symbiotic relationship developed in which blacks aided Crump, and he aided them, as was usual in politics. Crump also skillfully manipulated Republicans, who were numerically very weak in the western two-thirds of the state due to the disenfranchisement of blacks, but dominated politics in East Tennessee. Frequently, they found it necessary to align with Crump in order to accomplish any of their goals in the state government.
Crump was influential for nearly half a century. He usually preferred to work behind the scenes and served only three two-year terms as mayor of Memphis (1910–1915) at the beginning of his career. He essentially named the next several mayors. His rise to prominence disturbed many of the state political leaders in Nashville. The "Ouster Law", designed to remove officials who refused to enforce state laws, was passed primarily with Crump and his lax enforcement of state Prohibition in mind. He was county treasurer of Shelby County from 1917 to 1923. He was elected seven times as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Crump became involved in earnest in state politics during the 1928 gubernatorial election when Henry Horton was seeking election in his own right. Horton had earlier been speaker of the state senate and succeeded to the position of governor when Austin Peay died in office. Crump supported Hill McAlister in the Democratic primary, while the Nashville machine of Luke Lea supported Governor Horton. Horton won the primary despite the strong vote for McAlister in populous Shelby County. When Horton ran for reelection in 1930, Crump and Lea cut a deal, and Crump swung his formidable political machine behind Horton. Horton defeated independent Democrat L. E. Gwinn in the primary and Republican C. Arthur Bruce in the general election.

After years of working behind the scenes, Crump decided to run for U.S. Representative in 1930. He was easily elected to the Tenth District, which was then co-extensive with Shelby County (it became the Ninth in 1932). He served two terms: from March 4, 1931 to January 3, 1935. (The Twentieth Amendment was enacted in 1933, shifting the starting date of Congressional terms.) During this time, he was also a regent of the Smithsonian Institution. He remained hugely influential in Memphis as well. He was in constant communication with his operatives there and visited during each congressional recess.

In 1936, Crump was named to the Democratic National Committee, serving on that body until 1945. In 1939 he was elected a final time as mayor, although that term was officially served by Walter Chandler. Chandler was U.S. Representative for the Ninth District, and Crump thought that Chandler's time was better spent tending to congressional matters in Washington than campaigning for mayor in Memphis. So, without a platform, without a speech, and without opposition, Crump was elected mayor of Memphis.

Crump was sworn in at a few minutes past midnight on January 1, 1940, in a snow storm on the platform of the railroad station, just before leaving for New Orleans to see the Sugar Bowl. In high humor, he resigned immediately. Vice Mayor Joseph Boyle became Mayor till the next day, when the faithful City Commission met and elected Chandler. Watkins Overton's term had ended at midnight, and thus Memphis had four mayors in less than twenty-four hours.

Crump's statewide influence began to wane in the late 1940's. Edward J. Meeman, editor of the Memphis Press-Scimitar, opposed Crump's initiatives and called for a city manager government and abolition of the poll tax to weaken the power of the machine. He also worked to unseat U. S. Senator Tom Stewart, whom Crump supported in the 1948 Democratic primary against his intra-party challenger, U.S. Representative Estes Kefauver. Gordon Browning, a one-time protégé whom Crump had helped elect governor in 1936, was elected governor again in 1948, this time over Crump's opposition. For the rest of his life, Crump's influence was largely limited to Memphis. In 1952, his longtime associate, Senator Kenneth McKellar, was defeated in the Democratic primary — in those days with a practically powerless state Republican party, the real contest in Tennessee — by Congressman Albert Gore, Sr.. A final triumph for Crump was the victory in 1952 of his chosen candidate, Frank G. Clement in the gubernatorial primary over Browning.

Crump died less than two years later. He is interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.

The Crump machine

From the 1910's to the 1950's, Memphis was a locus of machine politics under the direction of "Boss" Crump, a Democrat. He obtained a state law in 1911 to establish a small commission to manage the city. The city retained a form of commission government until 1967 but Crump was in full control at all times. He used all the familiar techniques of the big city boss: ballot manipulation, patronage for friends, and frustrating bureaucratic obstacles for the opposition. Crump built a complex alliance with established power figures at the local, state, and national levels. He ensured that dissidents had little or no voice. At the center of his network was "Cotton Row": the business elite that dominated the cotton industry. Second, he included the modernizers: business-oriented progressives who were most concerned with upgrading the city's waterfront, parks, highways, and skyscrapers, as well as a moderately good school system. Working-class whites got their share of jobs, but labor unions were of marginal influence. Roger Biles argues that the political system was virtually unchanged from 1910 into the 1950s and 1960s, thanks to Crump's wire-pulling. Crump was the leading Tennessee supporter of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. In return, the city received ample relief programs, which provided jobs for the unemployed, as selected by machine lieutenants. The city also got major federal building projects, which helped fund the business community. Crump incorporated the black leadership in his outer circle, dispensing patronage in return for the black vote. Memphis was one of the largest southern cities in which blacks could vote, but segregation was as rigid as anywhere.


Statue of E.H. Crump in Overton Park, Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Crump was a strong supporter of fire service and for many years the Memphis Fire Department was considered one of the best in the country; it still has a high reputation.
  • He believed that separate operations for each municipal utility were inherently inefficient and combined them; in the early 21st century, Memphis Light, Gas and Water is one of the largest combined municipal utilities in the United States.
  • Crump thought that cities should not be too noisy; Memphis has strong noise ordinances that are more aggressively enforced than those of many other jurisdictions.
  • He was an early supporter of requiring automobile safety inspections; all of Memphis-registered vehicles were inspected annually (twice a year until the 1990s), until June 28, 2013, when all city inspections ceased after a de-funding of the department by the Memphis City Council.
  • The city's Crump Stadium and Crump Boulevard are named after him.
  • The lyrics to The Memphis Blues by composer and bandleader W.C. Handy mention "Mr. Crump." The song was published in 1912, but may have originated during Crump's 1909 mayoral campaign.
Crump's association with Georgia Tann suggests a less flattering view of his legacy. Tann enjoyed Crump's powerful protection in Memphis as she illegally placed babies in adoptive homes; often these babies were stolen. Tann's legacy—and by extension, Crump's—lives on today, in that 32 states (as of January 2007) seal birth certificates for adoptees.
Boss E. H. Crump's Influence In Politics

Edward Hull Crump: The Boss, Part VII

Despite encountering stiff opposition to the candidates supported by Shelby County Boss E. H. Crump and Tennessee’s senior United States Senator Kenneth D. McKellar, the two men were supporting Jim Nance McCord for governor in 1944.

McCord had been elected to a single term in Congress, but had held one elective office or another in his native Marshall County for decades.  McCord ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination without opposition and easily won the general election.  Both McKellar and Crump supported Franklin D. Roosevelt’s unprecedented bid for a fourth term that same year.

FDR summoned Crump to the White House as he began his fourth term for a conference.  The purpose of the conference was to encourage Crump to convince Senator K. D. McKellar to retire in 1946.  Roosevelt was anticipating the post-war world and he thought it would be a better one without McKellar in the Senate.  McKellar was then reaching the apex of his political career and wielded enormous influence in the United States Senate.  He had just been elected President Pro Tempore by his colleagues and was the Acting Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as Chairman of the Senate’s Post Office Committee.  FDR likely did not wish to have to contend with the McKellar influence in the Senate.

Crump told President Roosevelt that McKellar intended to run again in 1946 and to which FDR replied that if he did, McKellar would be beaten.  Crump, understanding Tennessee politics far better than FDR, retorted McKellar would not only run again, but would be reelected to a sixth term.  Crump was right; McKellar was reelected to another term in the United States Senate and by that time FDR lay in his own grave.

Crump decided in 1945 to give up his post as Tennessee’s committeeman on the Democratic National Committee.  Morristown businessman Herbert S. “Hub” Walters, a McKellar stalwart, took Crump’s place on the national committee.

The opposition to the McKellar – Crump domination of Tennessee politics made a stronger effort in the 1946 elections.  Edward “Ned” Carmack had quite nearly defeated junior United States Senator Tom Stewart in 1942 and Stewart’s margin of victory had come from Shelby County.  Carmack was eager to hold public office and had announced as a candidate for governor in 1944, but had dropped out well before the primary.  Chattanooga Congressman Estes Kefauver had seriously considered running against McKellar, but after making a few inquiries decided the old senator was still a formidable candidate.  Kefauver opted to run again for Congress, leaving Carmack to make the race against Senator McKellar.

Jim McCord was to be opposed by former governor Gordon Browning, who remained in Europe following the allied victory in World War II as part of the military government.  Browning’s campaign would be run in absentia, while Carmack carried most of the brunt of the actual campaigning.  McCord and McKellar ran as a ticket, along with Andrew “Tip” Taylor for the Public Service Commission.  As it turned out, McKellar’s own campaign was run in absentia.  Despite several announcements McKellar was returning to Tennessee to personally participate in the campaign, the senator remained in Washington, D. C.  Tennessee was brutally hot throughout the summer of 1946 and Senator McKellar was plagued by various ailments and illnesses and his campaign managers thought it best for him to remain at his post of duty in the Senate.

Tennesseans were once again treated to Crump purchasing full-page ads in newspapers throughout the state promoting Senator McKellar and Governor McCord.  In his ads, the Memphis Boss ridiculed the opposition to the McCord – McKellar ticket.  Crump’s loathing of Gordon Browning was as profound as ever.  Crump’s comments about the former governor were as pointed as they had been during Browning’s failed reelection bid in 1938.  Crump had claimed a particular art gallery in France held no less than twenty-six pictures of Judas Iscariot and opined, “None look alike, but they all resemble Gordon Browning.”

Unlike 1942, the election was not close.  Senator McKellar thrashed Ned Carmack without having even returned once to Tennessee to campaign for reelection personally.  Governor McCord easily defeated Gordon Browning.  It was to be the last election which the McKellar – Crump alliance won a smashing victory.

Yet in Memphis Crump remained as strong as ever.  Memphis had won several nationally prestigious awards over the years and the municipal stadium in Memphis was named for Crump.  The machine’s candidates occupied virtually every office in both the city and county governments.

As the 1948 elections loomed, Crump, like many Southerners, was growing increasingly alarmed by President Harry Truman’s commitment to civil rights.  Oddly one of Crump’s strongest objections to Truman was the fact the Missourian had come from the Pendergast machine in Kansas City.  Crump and McKellar both were dissatisfied with Truman and the Memphis Boss was soon indicating he would support the State’s Right ticket of South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond and Mississippi Governor Fielding Wright.  McKellar refused to leave the Democratic Party following the convention nominating Truman, but he told Crump he held out little hope for Truman being elected.

Crump’s dissatisfaction was hardly confined to Harry Truman; the Memphis Boss was not enthused about Senator Tom Stewart, who was also up for reelection in 1948.  Crump had been mortally embarrassed wen Stewart had been reelected in 1942 on the basis of the vote returns in Shelby County.  Crump was also constantly reminded by Will Gerber, a prominent attorney and sometime Crump officeholder in Shelby County, that Stewart very well might be anti-Semitic, though there was little in Stewart’s record to reflect that allegation.  In December of 1947 came the announcement Crump would not support Senator Stewart for renomination in the Democratic primary the following year.  Many expected Stewart to simply meekly retire to private life rather than run again and Crump probably thought the same thing.  Stewart stubbornly insisted he would be a candidate with or without Crump’s support.  Congressman Estes Kefauver, seeing his opportunity with the split in the machine, declared he, too, would be a candidate.  It proved to be Crump’s single biggest political miscalculation and mistake.

Crump’s senatorial candidate was Judge John A. Mitchell of Cookeville who was a cousin of former Congressman J. Ridley Mitchell, who had been a Crump opponent.  Crump had never even met John Mitchell, although he related he heard fine things about the judge.

Senator McKellar wrote Crump to say he had informed his junior colleague that he could not help him win reelection and noted Stewart had taken the news “coolly”.  McKellar went on to confess that Senator Stewart had “not had much to do with me since.”  McKellar admitted he was embarrassed by the situation and told the Memphis Boss he did not believe Judge Mitchell could win.

As the election approached, Crump grew increasingly uneasy and Senator McKellar stressed the importance of defeating Congressman Kefauver.  There were indications Crump intended to drop his support of Judge Mitchell and again back Senator Stewart.  The Kefauver campaign having heard the rumors, shrewdly predicted Crump would abandon John Mitchell and throw his support to Tom Stewart.  Crump reacted as they hoped, denouncing the claim as a lie.  He stuck with Mitchell to the bitter end and Kefauver won the senatorial nomination.  Crump’s blunder was compounded by the defeat of Governor Jim McCord by Gordon Browning, who was back in Tennessee and campaigning in person.
McCord, believing education needed more support in Tennessee, had convinced the legislature to institute a sales tax.  Tennesseans, not surprisingly, liked the free textbooks the tax provided, but did not like the tax.  Browning beat McCord soundly.  The Crump candidates had been overwhelmingly rejected at the polls and the Memphis Boss’s own influence would sink further when Harry Truman was elected that fall.  Although Thurmond carried Shelby County, Truman carried Tennessee.

The 1948 elections destroyed whatever national influence Ed Crump still possessed; the long rule of the McKellar – Crump alliance in Tennessee was shattered.  Both Crump and McKellar were aging and when the old senator announced in the summer of 1951 he would run for a seventh term, the Memphis Boss discreetly tried to talk McKellar out of running.  McKellar was eighty-two years old, frequently ill, and out of touch with many Tennesseans.  Once McKellar’s mind was made up, Crump determined to support his old ally again.  Crump also threw the backing of the Shelby County machine to young
Frank Clement who was making a strong bid to unseat the hated Governor Gordon Browning.
McKellar lost to Congressman Albert Gore, Sr., while Clement beat Browning.  Crump was pleased with Browning’s defeat, but it was to be his last statewide election success.  The Memphis Boss was himself aging and contented himself with local matters, his financial affairs, and his family.  Little escaped the Memphis Boss’s attention and he remained approachable by nearly everyone and his directives to city and county officials continued to flow from his office.  Crump enjoyed watching the squirrels cavort in his yard and remained the “Boss” until death carried him away.

E. H. Crump died on October 16, 1954.  Among the many mourners at Crump’s funeral was his long-time political partner and friend, former Senator Kenneth D. McKellar.  McKellar was “in pretty bad shape” at the funeral, distraught by the close of a friendship and association that spanned almost five decades.

Crump’s influence in Memphis and Shelby County lasted several years following his passing.  There are still numerous reminders in Memphis of Crump’s long rule and there is an imposing of statue of E. H. Crump in Overton Park.  The statue still surveys what was once completely Crump’s domain.

Written By: Ray Hill

Source: and

‘The Little Irish Judge’ Camille Kelley

Camille Kelley: ‘The Little Irish Judge’Camille Kelley, Judge of the Shelby County Juvenile Court, 1940
One of the more fascinating, as well as disturbing, stories in Tennessee history is that of Camille Kelley who became Judge of the Memphis Juvenile Court. A widow, Camille Kelley was a star in the crown of the Crump machine and when she assumed the bench, she was one of only two female judges in the South and the first woman to be a judge of the juvenile court. A plump, matronly woman with a pleasant smile and given to wearing nice clothes and a flower pinned to her ample bosom, she was also almost certainly corrupt.

Camille Kelley, one of the most prominent members of the Crump machine, would go from national recognition to a suspect in one of the most despicable and lurid scandals in Tennessee history.
Born the daughter of a physician and like many at the time, coy about her actual age, Camille McGee attended medical school for a couple of years before she chose to marry a successful attorney, Thomas Fitzgerald Kelley. Her husband had died by the time she ascended the bench in 1920. Camille Kelley was not a lawyer, but she seemed like a good choice to serve as Judge of the Juvenile Court, at least to Edward Hull Crump, master of the Memphis political machine. Crump and his political ally, Senator Kenneth D. McKellar, were strongly in favor of rights for women, which meant the entire machine favored increased rights for women. Crump and especially McKellar worked hard to give women the right to vote in Tennessee.

It was just after Tennessee ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution that Camille Kelley became Judge of the Shelby County Family Court. It allowed the Crump machine to appear progressive and compared to most political organizations, especially in the South, it was. The Memphis Boss had cobbled together virtually every aspect of Memphis’s social life to comprise his political machine. Business, labor, public employees all played important roles in the machine, which extended to the PTA and beyond. Several high ranking members of the Crump machine were Jewish, notably Will Gerber and Abe Waldauer; Crump even encouraged African-Americans to vote, a fact which frequently outraged the machine’s opponents. As judge of the Family Court, Camille Kelley was not only a demonstration the machine was progressive, but believed in the ability of women to serve in office. Judge Kelley herself commented that women really belonged in the home rather than elective office, but she remained on the bench for thirty years and only resigned when details of a sordid public scandal began to emerge.

As one of the few women in America to serve as a judge, Camille Kelley attracted national attention. Kelley delighted in sharing her opinions about child rearing and just about everything else, which were usually in the form of homilies. Never wearing a robe into her courtroom, Judge Kelley explained, “Robes would scare the children to death.” Kelley went on to explain the corsage pinned to her breast: “They’re not so timid when they see that I am wearing a flower.”

Eventually, Judge Kelley would publish three books chock full of her opinions, witticisms, and advice. The first, “A Friend In Court,” was published in 1942. Five years later, the judge penned “Delinquent Angels,” followed by Kelleygrams in 1949.

Kelley’s grandmotherly appearance, despite her love of fine clothes, furs and flowers, made her seem anything but threatening. Despite her lack of formal education, Judge Kelley was clever in her understanding of public relations. Following her original appointment to the bench, Camille Kelley was routinely elected by the people of Shelby County on the Crump ticket. Unlike some of her ticket-mates, Kelley was so popular, she rarely ever had opposition.

Jennifer Ann Trost has written an interesting book, “Gateway to Justice: The Juvenile Court and Progressive Child Welfare In A Southern City,” which contains much information about Camille Kelley.
Ms. Trost points out the Shelby County Family Court “cannot be understood without examining the life and ideas of its chief judge, Camille Kelley. So much of what the juvenile court was and subsequently became was defined by her philosophy and personality.”

As Ms. Trost points out, Camille Kelley was quite contradictory about her own role, as well as that of other women in public life. Kelley opined, “No woman should enter public life if it makes her less a woman, for there is no height to which she may climb equal to real home making or wifehood or motherhood.” Yet Judge Kelley acknowledged the need of many families for two incomes and she staunchly defended the right of women to work outside the home, but Kelley also excoriated many working mothers for neglecting their responsibilities at home.

“A mother in the home is of greater value to a child than money in the bank,” was Judge Kelley’s lofty opinion.

Apparently Camille Kelley had fixed opinions about most everything and never doubted her own wisdom. Kelley believed girls were more difficult than boys and one Memphis newspaper told its readers, “Nor does a boy have to be a ‘sissy boy’ to be a good boy – – – in fact Judge Kelley doesn’t care for ‘sissy boys’. She likes boys who are manly, boys who are ‘reg’ler fellers’.”

Although some black youngsters complained of harsh treatment while in the custody of the Shelby County Family Court, Ms. Trost notes Judge Kelley did not attempt to mete out different or harsher punishments to African-American children than she did to white youngsters. In fact, Camille Kelley apparently sought to better conditions for African-American children. Ms. Trost writes, “For her, the condition of childhood necessitated protecting black children as well as white children.”

Judge Kelley believed “love is the modern way to educate children” and frowned upon parents spanking children, declaring it to be not “the scientific, advanced method” of discipline in the home. To say the least, that was quite a progressive view at the time.

Being one of the very few female judges in the country, Camille Kelley drew considerable attention not only in Memphis, but nationally. Judge Kelley was the recipient of several national awards and was regularly invited to appear on radio and television programs. By the time she resigned in 1950, Camille Kelley’s service on the bench was fodder for a Hollywood production company which intended to produce both a movie and a television series about her work.

Although certainly a member of the Crump machine, the Memphis Boss was content to let Kelley rule her own domain. Kelley herself boasted her court was untouched by politics. Judge Kelley
condescendingly stated she did not participate in the sordid political arena, opining that women should not “supplant the men in public jobs they have held for hundreds of years. Women are capable, of course,” she added, “but we can’t spare them. We need them to concentrate on child welfare and education, work we are inherently better fitted to do than men.”

When she was finally forced out of office, Judge Kelley told the mayor, “No political interference has ever touched the inside of my courtroom, so help me God.” That was not entirely true.

As Jennifer Trost describes in her book, one of Judge Kelley’s trusted aides was fired at the insistence of one of Memphis’s City Commissioners. The public perception of Judge Camille Kelley was such that local newspapers roared their collective fury at the offending City Commissioner with blaring headlines demanding “Hands Off Judge Kelley’s Court” and “Free the Juvenile Court of Interference.”
The official fired from the court was Beulah Wood Fite who was the chief probation officer for the Shelby County Family Court. The working relationship between Judge Kelley and Ms. Fite was apparently quite close, as after Kelley was widowed, Ms. Fite moved into the judge’s home. Another employee from the juvenile court, one Altye Barbour, who presided over the mental exams given the children, also moved into Judge Kelley’s home.

Fite was evidently well liked by many of the children whom she encountered in the course of her professional life and was generally referred to as “Mamma”. Unfortunately for Ms. Fite, she was less well liked by some of the adults she worked with. Ms. Fite was not above chastising anyone she believed to have made a mistake, which extended to other officials. Described as having a “brusque” personality and regularly scolding parents whom she felt had done less than a stellar job with their children, Ms. Fite’s forceful personality caused her to run afoul of the City Commissioner who demanded she be fired. A serious flood in 1937 caused the Memphis Red Cross to request children in the custody of the juvenile court to be moved to a location it considered safer. Ms. Fite arbitrarily rejected the request, which caused the City Commissioner to demand the Juvenile Court Advisory Board to dismiss her immediately.

Jennifer Trost writes that “Kelley was strangely silent about losing one of the best-qualified members of her court.” Yet there is an explanation for Judge Kelley’s silence. It is difficult to imagine any member of the City Commission to have demanded Ms. Fite’s resignation without the express consent of Mr. Crump. Memphis and Shelby County was E. H. Crump’s domain and it is not hard to believe the Memphis Boss would have been less than amused by a minor official haughtily rejecting a request by the Red Cross. Had Crump sanctioned Ms. Fite’s dismissal, Judge Kelley would have had nothing to say about it, realizing to cross the Memphis Boss would imperil her own continued tenure at the court. Camille Kelley was too experienced and too shrewd to think she could countermand an order from Boss Crump.

Written By: Ray Hill