Skip to main content

Emily Bourne Grigsby visual arts materials

Collection number: ahc.VIS391

Scope and Contents

This collection contains images of Emily Bourne Grigsby's career as an opera singer and model, as well as her time as president of the Atlanta Music Club. Included are production stills from The Tales of Hoffman and Rigoletto with the San Francisco Opera, and images from the Moonlight Opera Company in Atlanta, Georgia. There are also photographs of Grigsby modeling at The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia; on top of Stone Mountain; for an automobile advertisement, and others. Of special note is an image of Grigsby on stage during a reception for the Havalanta Games, an annual athletic competition between teams from Havana, Cuba, and Atlanta, Georgia, sponsored by the Northside Atlanta Kiwanis Club. The collection also contains an oral history interview conducted through the Georgia Institute of Technology's Living History program.


  • 1940-2004, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

This material is protected by copyright law. (Title 17, U.S. Code) Permission for use must be cleared through the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. Licensing agreement may be required.

Administrative/Biographical History

Emily Bourne Grigsby (1922-2020) was born in Lexington, Kentucky, to Morton Humphrey Bourne (1869-1953), attorney and founder of the University of Kentucky School of Law, and Isabel Rebecca Hunt Bourne (1885-1935). Her father raised her in Owenton, Kentucky, after her mother died when she was 13. In 1942 Emily married Paul Grigsby (1911-2006). The Grigsbys moved to California where Emily became the youngest chorus member for the San Francisco Opera. The Georgia Institute of Technology rejected her college application because she was a woman, so she attended Mills College in California where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. After receiving her degree, she worked at a psychology clinic administering tests. In 1945, the Grigsbys moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked as a runway and print model for department stores, including Rich’s, for 15 years. In the early 1960s she began painting and her work was shown in galleries throughout the United States and France. Grigsby and her husband became licensed pilots during this time.

In 1974, Grigsby earned her Master of Science in City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She then earned her law degree from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1982. She was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1986 and practiced as an arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Directors (NASD) and as a mediator for the Justice Center of Atlanta. During these years, she also studied art at the Atlanta College of Art. She served on the Board of Directors for the Possible Women Foundation and the Partnership Against Domestic Violence. As a philanthropist, Grigsby supported several organizations such as Kennesaw State University, the Shepherd Center, and the Atlanta History Center, where she provided funding for exhibitions, including Any Great Change and Fashion in Good Taste. She was also a past president of the Atlanta Music Club and the Atlanta Women’s Club. She published her autobiography, A Hole in My Soul, in 2004.


92 item(s) (59 black and white photographic prints, 31 color photographic prints, one digital video file, and one VHS tape)



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged alphabetically according to titles supplied by staff.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

A MP4 video was made of AV-VIS 391.001, A Living History Interview with Emily B. Grigsby. Please ask an archivist for access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 2004

Related Materials

Emily Bourne Grigsby papers, MSS 1201, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2020.

Emily Bourne Grigsby visual arts materials
Kate Daly
September 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305