Southern Bell

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Not to be confused with Southern belle.
For the company founded in 1983 as Southern Bell, see BellSouth Telecommunications.
Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company
Industry Telecommunications
Fate Merged
Successor SBT&T Co.
Founded 1879
Defunct 1983
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Products Local telephone service
Parent American Bell (1879-1899)
AT&T (1899-1983)

Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company was the Bell Operating Company serving the states of Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina prior to the divestiture. Southern Bell began 1879 as the Atlanta Telephonic Exchange and was based in Atlanta. It shortened its name to Southern Bell.[1]

Southern Bell also operated in Charleston and other parts of West Virginia, from 1883 until 1917, when the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of West Virginia took over operations there.[2]

Split into South Central Bell & Southern Bell[edit]

On December 20, 1967, Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company formed South Central Bell Telephone Company to operate in five of its nine states (Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee).

Landmark sex discrimination case[edit]

Weeks v. Southern Bell was an important sex discrimimnation case in which Lorena Weeks claimed that Southern Bell had violated her rights under the 1964 Civil Rights Act when they denied her application for promotion to a higher paying position because she was a woman. She was represented in the case by Sylvia Roberts, a National Organization for Women attorney. She lost the initial case but won in 1969 after several appeals. Weeks v. Southern Bell was an important case as it marked the first victory in which NOW used the Civil Rights Act to fight gender-based discrimination.

Reincorporation[edit]

Southern Bell logo, 1960-1969

Southern Bell, originally incorporated in New York, was reincorporated in Georgia in 1983 as SBT&T Co.[3] The original Southern Bell was then merged into SBT&T Co., at which point that company was renamed Southern Bell. Since BellSouth, the new owner of Southern Bell and South Central Bell upon the divestiture of AT&T, was based in Georgia, it was more practical to have Southern Bell incorporated in the same state. Southern Bell was renamed BellSouth Telecommunications until It was merged into AT&T in 2006.

Southern Bell was headquartered in (what is now) the AT&T Midtown Center building in Atlanta, Georgia. Most Atlanta operations have now been relocated to AT&T Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. Downtown Atlanta's telephone exchange is located in the Art Deco AT&T Communications Building.

See also[edit]

References[edit]