From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Marlatt, Abby

(born: December 5, 1916  -  died: March 3, 2010) 

In 1956, Abby Marlatt was appointed director of the University of Kentucky (UK) School of Home Economics [now the School of Human Environmental Sciences]. Dr. Marlatt is not African American; she was a believer in equality and fairness. She was active in the UK student YMCA's counseling of students about civil disobedience toward nonviolent objectives for racial equality. While in Kansas, she had served on the board of the YWCA, and helped student members of both the YMCA and the YWCA to play sit-ins at lunch counters.

Dr. Marlatt was a member of CORE [Congress of Racial Equality] in Lexington, KY, and participated in sit-ins and stand-ins at establishments in Lexington. KY. She and another faculty member were investigated for imprudent acts by a committee appointed by the UK Board of Trustees and Dr. Marlatt was demoted from director of the School of Home Economics, effective September 1, 1963. She was also removed from teaching duties for one year.

Recognition of Dr. Marlatt's community service and civil rights leadership occurred years after her demotion. In 1985 Dr. Marlatt was awarded the UK Sullivan Medallion for service to the community and University. Dr. Marlatt was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2001. 

Dr. Abby Marlatt was born in Manhattan, KS, the daughter of Annie and Frederick Marlatt. She died in Lexington, KY, and is buried at the Sunset Cemetery in Manhattan, KS. She was a graduate of Kansas State University and the University of California at Berkeley.

For more see the Abby Marlatt Papers and pictures at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center, Explore UK; also search for Abby Marlatt in the University of Kentucky Senate Minutes and the Board of Trustees Minutes; see 1960s articles in the Lexington Herald-Leader; K. Bednarski, "Abby Marlatt, Central Kentucky civil rights activist, dies at 93," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/04/10, Obituary section; see Abby Marlatt in Oral history interview: Agatha Norton & Mary Ellen Roach Higgins (0542) at Minds @ UW.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Marlatt, Abby,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 1, 2022,

Last modified: 2022-09-03 11:07:21