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TAYLOR, RHOBIA CAROLYN

TAYLOR, RHOBIA CAROLYN (1908–1990). Rhobia Carolyn Taylor, advocate of women's working rights, was born on September 26, 1908, in Navasota, Texas, the daughter of Lawrence Aleck and Nora Lee (Stephenson) Taylor. She attended the Houston public schools before receiving an undergraduate degree from Mary Hardin-Baylor College (now the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor) in Belton in 1934. She later did postgraduate studies at Columbia University, American University, New York University, and the University of Buffalo. Her professional career began at Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, where she served as an advisor and director of the Baptist Student Center from 1934 to 1942. She then moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and worked as assistant director for women's activities for the United Service Organizations until 1945. From 1945 until 1964 she held several public relations positions in the health field. She was a recruitment representative for the United States Cadet Nurse Corps in Kansas City, Missouri, and special-events coordinator for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She also worked for the United States Public Health Service, the Veterans Administration Nursing Service, and the National League for Nursing. While at the league, an organization devoted to student recruitment, she coordinated state and local efforts to increase interest in the nursing profession in the South. For this work she received the Allstate Gold Medal Nursing Award in 1962 from the league.

In 1964 Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz appointed Taylor a regional director of the Women's Bureau of the United States Department of Labor. She was placed in charge of a new region that had its headquarters in Dallas and covered a nine-state area from Texas to Wyoming. The region later was reduced to five states in the Southwest-Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Specific goals she pursued through the bureau included teaching women to utilize federal outreach and work-incentive programs, providing career counseling, addressing needs of minority women, establishing more child-care programs for working parents, and broadening opportunities for women's vocational training. Taylor was a strong advocate of equal pay for equal work. She believed in cooperation between the federal government, private industry, and unions to assist in raising the status of working women and moving them into management. As a way to assist in these efforts, she helped establish governors' commissions on the status of women for each of the five states in her region. She was also the Labor Department's first female representative to the Federal Executive Board and was a recipient of the department's Distinguished Career Service Award in 1977. Taylor served on the board of directors of the National Association of Executive Women in Government and also was active in the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Dallas, Women in Communications, Federally Employed Women, and the Women's Center of Dallas. In 1990 she announced plans to retire from the Women's Bureau after directing the southwest office for twenty-six years. One of her final efforts was a project with Texas Woman's University to trace the history of working women and the Women's Bureau in the Southwest; Taylor conducted interviews that are now part of the Woman's Collectionqv at TWU. She suffered a stroke and died in Dallas on October 29, 1990. Upon her death, Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole noted Taylor's "wonderful spirit...and dedication to the Women's bureau and the [Labor] department." Funeral services were held for Rhobia Taylor in Dallas and Stoneham, Texas; she was buried in the Stoneham City Cemetery. She had no immediate survivors.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Downtown News, August 14, 1978. Dallas Morning News, October 31, 1990. Dallas Times Herald, April 12, 1964, October 31, 1990. Jonathan Grossman, The Department of Labor (New York: Praeger, 1973).

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "TAYLOR, RHOBIA CAROLYN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ftayc), accessed April 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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