Gwen Ingram O'Looney PapersGwen Ingram O'Looney Papers

Gwen Ingram O'Looney Papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: Gwen Ingram O'Looney Papers
Creator: O'Looney, Gwen
Dates: 1981-2010
Extent: 8.0 boxes (3 linear feet)
Collection Number: RBRL/372
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Gwen Ingram O'Looney served as the mayor of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County (1991-1998). Her papers document her service as a member of the Athens City Council and mayor, her political campaigns and activities, and her community engagement as well as the issues facing Athens-Clarke County during the 1980s and 1990s, such as increased growth, historic preservation and the impact of industry. Included are notebooks and journals, speech notes, datebooks, correspondence, campaign and political materials, clippings, programs, and photographs.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Gwendolyn Adelle Ingram O’Looney was born December 16, 1947, in Meridian, Mississippi, and grew up on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia. She attended Furman University before transferring to the University of Georgia where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology. She married John O’Looney in 1982.

Throughout her life, O’Looney has worked in the area of human and social services. During the Vietnam War, she spent 14 months in Vietnam with the Red Cross organizing non-military programs for American soldiers. In 1971, O’Looney moved to Atlanta, in 1973, took a position with then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter as a liaison to the state’s Department of Human Resources, advising on mental health issues. When Carter ran for president in 1976, she worked on his campaign. She later moved to New York City where she worked for the Boys Clubs of America (later the Boys & Girls Clubs) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

In 1980, O’Looney moved to Athens to become the director of Neighbors as Helpers, a nonprofit seeking to improve living conditions for those in Athens’ public housing projects. In the years that followed, she helped found Athens-based Community Connection and wrote grants to establish the Athens Area Homeless Shelter and Project Safe.

In 1984, O’Looney entered politics with her run to represent the Fifth Ward in the Athens City Council. After serving two terms, in 1990 O’Looney ran for the position of CEO (chief elected officer) of the newly formed Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, which she won in a run-off against E. H. Culpepper.

As CEO and mayor, O’Looney worked to consolidate the city and county governments, restructuring departments, bringing conflicting laws and ordinances into alignment, and equalizing pay for employees. She served two terms (1991-1998), launching several major capital projects, including the Classic Center and the Multimodal Transportation Center, establishing designated historic districts throughout Athens, and preparing the city to host severals events of the 1996 Olympic Games.

In 1998, she stepped down as mayor near the end of her second term to serve as director of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services office in Clarke County. In 2010, O’Looney ran for mayor again but lost to Nancy Denson, then the Clarke County tax commissioner.

As of 2016, O’Looney hosts the weekly radio show, Lunch with Gwen, on WXAG in Athens and remains active locally, serving on the board of the Athens-Clarke County Friends of the Library and participating in local Democratic Party activities.

Source: Online Athens

Scope and Content

The Gwen Ingram O'Looney Papers primarily document O'Looney's service as a member of the Athens City Council and mayor of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, her political campaigns and activities, and her community engagement as well as the issues facing Athens-Clarke County during the 1980s and 1990s, such as increased growth, historic preservation and the impact of industry. The papers include notebooks and journals, speech notes, datebooks, correspondence, campaign and political materials, clippings, programs, and photographs.

Organization and Arrangement

The papers are arranged in three series: I. Athens-Clarke County Government, II. Political, and III. Personal.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research with the following exception: Boxes with restricted materials are identified with an R before the box number. An access restriction note follows each restricted folder title with an explanation of the restriction and when the folder will be open.

Preferred citation

Gwen Ingram O'Looney Papers, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Conditions Governing Use note

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Mat Darby, November 2016.


Related Materials

Access Points

Athens (Ga.)
Athens-Clarke County (Ga.)--Politics and government.
Georgia--Politics and government.
Women--Political Activity--Georgia.

Related Collections in this Repository

Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 004 Gwen O'Looney interviewed by Betsy Bean, Part 1

Athens Oral History Project, AOHP 004 Gwen O'Looney interviewed by Betsy Bean, Part 2

Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files

Heidi Davison Papers

Talmadge C. DuVall Papers

Cardee Kilpatrick Papers


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

Series I. Athens-Clarke County Government

Scope and Content: Series I. Athens-Clarke County Government documents O'Looney's service as a member of the Athens City Council and as mayor of Athens-Clarke County as well as the period surrounding the unification of the city and county governments. Included are clippings, correspondence, photographs, notebooks, datebooks, and related materials. Particularly noteworthy are notebooks that O'Looney used throughout most of her time as a councilmember and mayor. These notebooks reflect many of the issues affecting the city and county during the 1980s and 1990s, such as increased growth, historic preservation and the impact of industry, as well as the everyday business of local government.
City Council
BoxFolder
11[Clippings], 1984-1990
12[Photographs], 1984-1990
Unification
BoxFolder
13Clippings, 1990-1991
14Programs, 1991
15Photographs, 1990-1991
Box
6"A New Beginning" Unification memento, 1991 January 14
Chief Elected Officer/Mayor
BoxFolder
16Correspondence, 1990-1998
17Clippings, 1991-1998
18-12Photographs, 1991-1998
Box
4[Laminated Letter and Clipping from Billy Henderson], 1998 April 19
BoxFolder
113[Leaving Office], 1998
Box
4 Flagpole Magazine [O'Looney on the cover], 1998 October 14
Box
R.3Olympic Lawsuit, 1996-2001
Conditions Governing Access note: This folder contains restricted attorney-client privileged records and is open for research on January 1, 2052.
BoxFolder
114Business Cards, 1984-1998
115-19Notebooks, 1984 May-1992 July
120Notebook, 1995
121-23Datebooks, 1989-1998
Box
6Name tags, 1985-1998
Box
7Patches: Athens-Clarke County Police Department, 1990-1991
 

Series II. Political

Scope and Content: Series II. Political primarily documents O'Looney's campaigns for Athens City Council (1984-1987) and chief elected officer (1990) and mayor (1994) of Athens-Clarke County; her other political activities are also represented. Included are brochures, posters, a t-shirt, buttons, political cartoons, clippings, and photographs.
1984 City Council Campaign
BoxFolder
124Brochures, 1984
125Clippings, 1984
126Photographs, 1984
Box
5Poster: Elect Gwen O'Looney, 5th Ward, Athens City Council, 1984
1987 City Council Campaign
BoxFolder
127Clippings, 1987
128Correspondence, 1987
129Brochures, 1987
Box
5Poster: Re-elect Gwen O'Looney, 5th Ward, Athens City Council, 1987
1990 Chief Elected Officer Campaign
BoxFolder
130Brochures and Bumper Stickers, 1990
131Correspondence, 1990
132Clippings, 1990
BoxFolder
21Clippings, 1990
22Photographs
Box
7T-shirt: Vote Gwen O'Looney, 1990
Box
6Name tag: Gwen O'Looney, Candidate Chief Elected Officer - CEO, 1990
Box
5"Vote Gwen O'Looney Chief Elected Officer" signs, 1990
5Poster: [Campaign Volunteers], 1990
5[Hand-written Election Results], 1990
1994 Mayoral Campaign
BoxFolder
23Brochures and Bumper Stickers, 1994
24Clippings, 1994
25Correspondence, 1994
26[2010 Mayoral Campaign], 2010
Box
5Sign: Honk for Gwen, 2010
BoxFolder
27[Other Elections], 1986-2002
28"Gwen O'Looney: The Savvy Small Town Political Campaign of a Female Underdog" [paper], 2003
29[Political Cartoons by William Lowrey], 1990-1991
Box
4[Political Cartoon by William Lowrey], circa 1991
BoxFolder
210[Georgia Federation of Democratic Women], 1993
211[Democratic National Convention], 2008
212[Presidential Inaugural], 2009
Buttons
Box
6O'Looney Campaigns, 1984-1990
6Candidates, Political Causes, and Athens Issues, 1984-2008
6Democratic National Convention, 2008
 

Series III. Personal

Scope and Content: Series III. Personal documents, to some extent, O'Looney's engagement with the wider Athens community and her personal interests. Of particular interest are her notes for speeches and remarks delivered to a variety of audiences throughout her time in Athens. Also included are clippings, cards, photographs, programs and other ephemera.
Box
8[Speech Notes], 1981-2009
BoxFolder
213Clippings, 1983-1984, 1998
214R.E.M., 1999
215Roast O'Looney, 2008
216[Programs and other ephemera], 1994-2009
217Photographs, 1980s-2000s