Monday, August 06, 2018

New Collection Open for Research

Plat of the East End Subdivision on St. Simons Island ca. 1928 
The Russell Library staff is pleased to announce the Alton H. Hopkins Collection of St. Simons Island Beach Case Records is now processed and opened. Researchers and others interested in civil litigation, property ownership, and private development along the Georgia coast will find this collection particularly useful. The Hopkins Collection contains materials related to a series of six court cases spanning from the late 1960s through the early 2000s. Holdings include legal briefs, contracts, exhibits, and court transcripts as well as correspondence, news clippings, and numerous maps, plats, drawings, and photographs.

View the complete finding aid here:

Friday, August 03, 2018

Abit Nix: The Classic City Candidate for Governor

Abit Nix in retirement

Last Tuesday, Georgia secretary of state Brian Kemp scored a come-from-behind victory over Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle in the Republican gubernatorial primary runoff. As Charles Bullock, the University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Chair of Political Science, has recently observed, Kemp’s margin of victory represented a swing of 43.9 percent from the primary to the runoff—a new Georgia election record. Kemp now advances to the general election where he faces former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams and Libertarian Ted Metz in what promises to be one of the most expensive and closely watched races in the 2018 election cycle.

An Athens native, Brian Kemp graduated from Athens Academy and the University of Georgia. Prior to becoming secretary of state in 2010, he represented Athens in the State Senate from 2003 until 2007. His grandfather, Julian H. Cox, Sr., served in both the Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate during the 1950s and 1960s. His father-in-law, Robert E. Argo, Jr., represented Athens in the House from 1977 to 1987. Unlike Democrats Cox and Argo, though, Brian Kemp is a Republican.

Brian Kemp is also the first serious gubernatorial contender from the Classic City since Athens attorney Abit Nix waged two pitched campaigns against Eugene Talmadge in 1932 and 1940.

Hosea Abit Nix was born near Commerce in Jackson County where his father was a well-to-do farmer, county commissioner, and state senator. Nix moved south to attend the University of Georgia where he graduated with an A.B. in 1911 and an LL.B. in 1912. Nix continued his legal studies at University of Chicago and Harvard, but he returned to Athens in 1913 to work and teach at his alma mater. Nix became a prominent Athens attorney rising to the rank of partner in the local firm of Erwin, Erwin & Nix (subsequently Erwin, Nix, Birchmore & Epting).

Nix's 1911 Pandora yearbook photo

Aside from his teaching and professional duties, Nix belonged to a dizzying array of fraternal and civic organizations such as the Elks, Moose, Freemasons, and Shriners. He was also a founding member of the Rotary Club of Athens, and he served as a club president, district governor, international director of that organization at various points in his career.

In 1932, Governor Richard B. Russell Jr. opted to run for the United States Senate rather than reelection. This triggered a free-for-all in that year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Agriculture Commissioner Eugene Talmadge, espousing his signature brand of reactionary populism, emerged as the frontrunner. The centerpiece of Talmadge’s 1932 campaign was a promise to sell automobile tags for a flat, three-dollar fee—a pledge immortalized in song by Fiddlin’ John Carson and Moonshine Kate.  

Nix, drawing heavily on his civic background and legal experience, launched his own gubernatorial campaign in May 1932. Nix could not hope to match Talmadge’s personal flamboyance and populist fervor so he sought to compensate with sober policy prescriptions, which he outlined in a lengthy, twelve-point platform. In it, he pledged “efficiency, economy and honesty” in government, the “elimination of waste and extravagance” in state affairs, and improved roads and schools. That message carried Nix to a respectable second place finish in 1932. Amassing just over 28 percent of the popular vote to Talmadge’s 42 percent, Abit Nix ran best in the urban centers and college towns the rural-oriented Talmadge disparaged so gleefully on the campaign trail.

Unlike that year’s other aspirants, Nix generally avoided attacking Talmadge directly. Instead, he railed against “professional politicians,” a distinction that included Eugene Talmadge as well as former governor Thomas Hardwick and State Highway Board chairman John Holder. Nix’s 1940 campaign for governor, however, was an entirely different matter altogether.

Eugene Talmadge, having been rebuffed by voters in back-to-back bids for the U.S. Senate in 1936 and 1938, was seeking a third term as governor that year. Talmadge had demonstrated a penchant for spectacle, demagoguery, authoritarianism during his two previous administrations. When the General Assembly balked at Talmadge’s “Three-dollar tag” in 1933, he lowered the fee by executive order. When the State Highway Department refused to comply with various demands, Governor Talmadge seized the department’s funds, ejected the board from office, and appointed loyalists who would do his bidding. Most controversial of all, perhaps, was Talmadge’s response to the United Textile Workers strike in September 1934. The governor declared martial law, dispatched the National Guard, and arrested pro-union picketers to quash the protest. The jarring images of bayonet-wielding guardsmen and labor activists incarcerated behind barbed wire at Fort McPherson dismayed Talmadge critics who worried the governor’s heavy-handed style flouted the rule of law and tarnished the state’s reputation.

Eugene Talmadge on the stump

Abit Nix launched his second campaign for governor in June 1940. Present as always were Nix’s acclamations of “honesty, efficiency and economy,” but he also denounced—constantly and vigorously—Eugene Talmadge in the most unflattering terms. “The people don’t want a blitzkrieg governor again,” Nix declared, referencing the style of warfare Nazi Germany was employing with terrible effect across Western Europe that summer. “I am making the fight to put our government on a common sense, democratic basis where law and respect of constituted authority shall prevail over the wishes of political officials armed with the bayonet.”  

An anonymous letter supporting Nix's 1940 campaign 

The race, which also featured Agriculture Commissioner Columbus Roberts, grew increasingly nasty in the run up to the September Democratic primary. A fistfight between Talmadge and Nix supporters erupted at one Warm Springs gathering when a fashionably late Eugene Talmadge arrived just in time to interrupt Nix’s stump speech. The tumult flared back up when Talmadge took the stage, and by the end of the day, a wheelchair-bound man had reportedly been hospitalized and an automobile torched. Both sides traded blame for the donnybrook, and Nix persisted in comparing his primary opponent to German chancellor Adolf Hitler for the remainder of the campaign.

For his part, Eugene Talmadge offered a more progressive platform and milder image in 1940 than he had in previous campaigns. Most historians now credit Herman Talmadge, Gene’s son and political heir, for smoothing his father’s rougher edges that year. Combined with incumbent governor E.D. Rivers’ numerous scandals and a divided opposition (which Talmadge exploited deftly), “Ole Gene” cruised to victory while Abit Nix ran a distant third.  

Talmadge, however, reverted quickly to his old ways when he instigated a purge of college administrators, teachers, and University System of Georgia regents on trumped up charges of advocating “communism or racial equality” in the summer of 1941. The original and most high-profile target of Talmadge’s ire was University of Georgia College of Education dean Walter Cocking. (Cocking served with Nix in the Athens Rotary Club.) Talmadge’s political interference in what became known as the “Cocking Affair” cost all state-supported white colleges and universities their accreditation, and it cost Talmadge reelection in 1942. Improbably, Talmadge would make one, final political comeback in 1946. But that’s another story entirely.  

Throughout his political career, Abit Nix was one of those Georgians who was, in the words of esteemed political scientist V.O. Key, Jr., “damned with the designation of ‘respectable.’” There is perhaps no clearer example than Nix of what another scholar, Joseph Bernd, dubbed “the best element” in Georgia politics. “The member of ‘the best element’ is the sort of person who places a high priority on high moral standards of official conduct, believing that the method of government aside from questions of policy, is important in its own right.”

Unfortunately for Nix and those subscribing to his political brand, he never had the opportunity to implement his vision. Abit Nix died in March 1959 at age 70. Harold Martin, an Atlanta Constitution columnist and editor who had volunteered on Nix’s 1932 campaign, reflected on the Athenian’s inability to break through with voters. “In that time…people didn’t want the quieter virtues in their candidates for governor. They wanted to see a showman on the stump, a ranter and snorter, a leaper and shouter. Abit Nix, somehow, just didn’t have it in him to play the demagogue.” To Nix, respectability in personal decorum and political affairs weren’t simply preferable—they were essential elements.    

The Richard B. Russell Library houses a collection of papers and artifacts related to Abit Nix’s political career and civic activities. His unsuccessful 1940 gubernatorial campaign is extensively documented. Researchers will gain particular insight into Mr. Nix’s rationale for launching his campaign as well as his supporters’ political attitudes and outlooks. The Russell Library also holds the papers of state representative Bob Argo as well as the Rotary Club of Athens records.  

N.B. If elected, Brian Kemp would become the first native Athenian to hold that office. Two other prominent residents, Wilson Lumpkin (1831-1835) and Howell Cobb (1851-1853), have served as governor, but neither were born and raised in Athens. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Moore's Ford: The Nation's Last Mass Lynching

Moore's Ford Lynching historical marker

The slayings of George and Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger and Dorothy Malcolm by a white lynch mob occurred on July 25, 1946 near the Moore’s Ford Bridge on the Appalachee River between the Walton and Oconee counties. The brutal killings seized national headlines and triggered a federal response. Compelled to act, President Harry S. Truman dispatched FBI agents to Georgia to investigate the murders. President Truman also issued an executive order in December 1946 establishing the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, which issued a host of recommendations including federal anti-lynching legislation. Faced with uncooperative witnesses, however, U.S. attorneys declined to seek indictments, and intransigent lawmakers—chiefly representing southern states—blocked anti-lynching legislation in Congress. 

Governor Roy Barnes ordered the case reopened in 2001, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation followed suit in 2006. State and federal officials closed the case in December 2017, and the nation’s last mass lynching remains unsolved. 

FBI ballistics report from 1946
The Russell Library houses a number of Moore’s Ford related collections. The records of the Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee, donated by Richard Rusk and Rosemary Woodel, document the efforts of black and white citizens of Walton and Oconee counties to commemorate the slayings, seek justice for the Dorseys and Malcolms, and endow memorial scholarships for local students. The Samuel J. Hardman Research Files include a number of documents produced by the FBI during its 1946-47 investigation. Copies of investigation summaries, witness reports, description of physical evidence, internal bureau communication, and an article penned by Hardman feature prominently.

These and other collections are currently open for research.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Remembering Tom Crawford

Tom Crawford giving an oral history interview at the Russell Library in August 2017 
I met Tom Crawford on the third-floor landing of the Hull Street Parking Deck early one morning late last August. We had arrived almost simultaneously for our scheduled interview, and Tom had paused at the landing to knot his burgundy, patterned necktie. We walked together up the slope to Russell Special Collections Libraries building where we spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon discussing history, politics, and the business of covering politics.

Crawford interviewing Johnny Isakson circa 1974
Tom Crawford, Dean of the State Capitol Press Corps, died Wednesday morning after waging a decades-long battle against cancer. A quick wit and, according to all accounts, an even quicker typist, Tom’s journalism career actually began here in Athens. A 1968 graduate of Clarkston High School, he had opted for UGA over Georgia Tech and majored in journalism. He worked at the student-led Red & Black, rising to rank of sports editor. Tom graduated with honors in 1972 and began his professional career as a beat reporter at the Alabama state capitol for the Montgomery Advertiser.

From 1972 to 1983, Tom worked at the Advertiser, Atlanta ConstitutionMarietta Daily Journal, and Atlanta Journal reporting on local, county, and state politics. He became a fixture on the campaign trail and under the Georgia Gold Dome during those hurly-burly legislative sessions of the 1970s and early 1980s. Although it surely did not seem so at the time, Tom was witnessing what one of his colleagues, the late David Nordan, dubbed the end of “southern gothic” politics in the state. Indeed, Tom chronicled the relatively swift, if excruciatingly overdue, modernization of Georgia’s political system.

Tom stepped away from reporting in 1983 and assumed an accounts executive position at Pringle Dixon Pringle, a full-service public relations agency in Atlanta. From writing company newsletters and corporate speeches to coordinating press conferences and media interviews, the job proved a perfect fit for someone with Tom’s skill set.
He also dabbled in speechwriting during the 1980s and 1990s. One supposes that after hearing and reporting on enough speeches delivered by others on the stump and from the House and Senate wells that Tom figured he would try his hand at crafting his own for public consumption.

Already a print media veteran, Crawford blazed a trail for online journalists and bloggers in the state when he launched Capitol Impact­—now known as Georgia Report—in 2000. Like countless others, I first encountered Tom through his weekly columns that appeared in more than 35 newspapers across the state. Another equally important aspect of the Georgia Report was its subscription service targeted at the lawyers, lobbyists, and myriad other political insiders who relied on Tom’s timely reporting and insightful analysis.
Crawford and a colleague at the Capitol

Indeed, those same qualities convinced me to send Tom an email last August requesting an interview with him for the Russell Library’s Two-Party Georgia Oral History Project. The reply I received was Tom Crawford distilled, and it is worth quoting in full.

“That’s an interesting proposal you have passed along. I’m curious: why would you want to interview me? I’m just an obscure journalist who has written on occasion about state government and politics. Few people know who I am; most who meet me face-to-face assume that I’m [Atlanta Journal-Constitution lead writer] Jim Galloway (which, I can assure you, I’m not).
I should point out that your title for this effort, ‘Two-Party Georgia,’ is a bit of a misnomer. Georgia is and always has been a one-party state. It was formerly a one-party state controlled by Democrats and is now a one-party state controlled by Republicans. Same difference, as far as I can see.
I’d be happy to assist in this project, although I’m not sure how much I could add.”
Needless to say, Tom Crawford contributed mightily to our understanding of Georgia politics over the years. Not only did Tom sit for an oral history interview, but he also donated his papers to the Russell Library. Those papers, which include columns from every stage of his journalistic career as well as his reporter’s notebooks, are currently being processed. His collection awaits seasoned researchers seeking Tom’s observations on countless, hot-button political topics as well as eager students and budding journalists discovering Tom Crawford for the very first time.  

Tom Crawford’s Two-Party Georgia interview can be viewed on the Russell Library Oral History Program’s YouTube page at    

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Build Civic Knowledge On Your Lunch Break!

This April the Richard B. Russell Library invites attendees to consider the powers and function of the U.S. Congress through an event series titled Civic Knowledge, Civic Power. This weekly program hosted from 12:30-1:30 p.m. looks to increase civic knowledge on campus and in the community with short lectures and informal discussion from speakers in UGA’s Department of Political Science
The powers of the United States Congress are considerable and well established. Congress can collect taxes, coin money, declare war, raise and support armies and a navy, and make all laws necessary and proper to carry out its powers – just to name a few. But understanding Congress cannot be done in a vacuum or just through a listing of powers

Hosted for the first time in 2017, the weekly lunch-and-learn series was created as a way to promote greater understanding at a time when surveys show declining levels of knowledge and confidence in Congress. “A 2016 survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that citizen knowledge of government basics is at a new low,” said outreach archivist Jan Hebbard. “At a time when many citizens seem increasingly interested in playing a more active role in politics, we wanted to create a space for informal learning about this branch of government and its history.” Last year’s events were so successful, the event series will now happen annually, hosted in tandem with the national Congress Week initiative each April.

At each event featured speakers will address a selected topic, beginning on April 3 with Dr. Anthony Madonna discussing how a bill becomes a law, with a particular focus on recent efforts to reshape the Affordable Care Act. Other topics on the schedule include how elections work; balancing the federal budget; and polarization in Congress. Organizers hope addressing issues that have garnered widespread attention since the 2016 presidential election will engage people from both the campus and community. “We try to keep our programming connected both to our collections, and to current events – helping people to draw connections between the past and present,” said Jill Severn, head of access and outreach for the Russell Library. 

Partners for the series include the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, the UGA College Republicans. For more information contact or call 706-542-5788.

Tuesday, April 3, 12:30-1:30
Lunch & Learn, How a Bill Becomes a Law (Healthcare Redux)
Room 277, Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries)

Tuesday, April 10, 12:30-1:30
Lunch & Learn, Balancing the Federal Budget
Room 277, Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries)

Tuesday, April 17, 12:30-1:30
Lunch & Learn, How Campaigns Work: 2018 Mid-Term Elections 
Room 277, Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries)

Tuesday, Apr. 24, 12:30-1:30PM
Lunch & Learn, Polarization in Congress
Room 277, Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries)

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Lecture to Spotlight Ongoing Ethics Debate in Congress

Can the American Congress be ethical in an age of intense partisan warfare? Princeton University professor and CNN political analyst Julian E. Zelizer will take up the topic of ethics in Congress on Thursday, April 5 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.
Titled, “Ethics in the Age of Partisan Warfare,” Zelizer’s talk will explore past debates over ethics reform, as well as the push for new oversight and enforcement on the heels of growing allegations of sexual misconduct in Congress. In a recent op-ed piece for The Atlantic, Zelizer submitted that the legislative branch botched a chance to curtail sexual harassment in the 1990s and illuminated the failures of the rules and regulations put into effect in that decade. 

Dr. Julian Zelizer, Princeton University Professor
and CNN political analyst
“Unlike the other institutions rocked by harassment scandals this past year, the inner workings of Congress remain a mystery to the American people,” said Russell Library director Sheryl Vogt. “As a founding member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC), the Russell Library wants to promote a better public understanding of Congress as the branch of government closest to the people. Julian Zelizer is the ideal scholar to enlighten us about the partisanship and ethics scandals that characterize that elective body today.”

The author of numerous books, articles and op-eds, including a weekly column on, Zelizer has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. His current book project focuses on the ethics scandal that ousted Congressman Jim Wright from his position as Speaker of the House in 1989. “This was the moment,” Zelizer explains, “when the hopes of the post-Watergate reforms faded into the darkness of rampant partisanship in Congress.”  

The lecture complements a slate of lunch-and-learn programs the Russell Library will host during the month of April which look to increase civic knowledge and awareness on campus and in the community. Promoted collectively under the Civic Knowledge, Civic Power moniker, the series will feature speakers from the UGA Department of Political Science and address topics focused on Congress, its powers and responsibilities. The series was inspired by the ongoing Congress Week initiative, an annual program of ACSC.

“Ethics in the Age of Partisan Warfare” is free and open to the public; a light reception will follow the program. The event is co-sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of History For more information call 706-542-5788 or email  

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Recap: 4th Annual School Lunch Challenge

This Year's Winners...

Each year we give out two awards at the School Lunch Challenge -- our overall champion, determined by our panel of student judges (students in grades 2-12 drawn from schools in the Clarke County School District) and our crowd favorite, voted on by all attendees at the event. This year for the first time in our competition's history, the same team won both awards! Dondero's Kitchen's chicken fajitas and spiced roasted sweet potatoes won over adults and kids alike! This winning dish will be incorporated into the school lunch menu for the Clarke County School District during the 2018-2019 school year. 

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe came in a close second in the crowd favorite voting with their pizadilla served with chopped salad. The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia came in second in the crowd favorite voting for their turkey, cheese & veggie panini served with steamed broccoli with lemon zest. As always, the voting this year was incredibly tight, and we are grateful to all of our teams for their efforts in creating such delicious dishes! A full listing of our participating restaurants, chefs, support staff, and dishes can be found below. 

As always, our teams all did a great job creating dishes that met the USDA nutrition guidelines and which met the cost ($1.50 per full plate produced) and time restrictions (1.5 hours to prep and serve) provided to them. We thank all of our chefs, volunteers, and sponsors for making this event happen! Photos from the event are available on the Russell Library's Facebook Page.

Politics in Everyday Life

This even was inspired by the exhibition, Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch, produced by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies in 2015. Georgia's Senator Richard B. Russell co-sponsored the National School Lunch Act, passed in 1946, which created the National School Lunch Program. Our staff produced the School Lunch Challenge to connect people to food, history, and each other -- and to highlight the ongoing impact that a single piece of legislation can have on the daily lives of citizens. 

If you are interested in learning more about legislative history or politics in Georgia, please visit our website to browse our collections, or stop in to visit our reading room or exhibit gallery at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries on the UGA campus. The building is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Interested in scheduling a group tour? Fill out our online tour request form or stop by for our weekly Tuesday Tour at 2PM.

It Takes a Village! Thank You to Our 2018...

Event MC
Dr. Caree Cotwright

Event Sponsors
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Clarke County School District
Mayfield Dairy Farms
Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department
College of Family and Consumer Sciences, UGA
Department of Foods and Nutrition, UGA
The Fresh Market
Seed Life Skills
Athens Land Trust
Athens Farm to School
Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market

Competing Teams
Last Resort Grill
Chefs: Larry Vivian, Jordan Sanchez
Menu: Macaroni & Cheese with Chicken & Cheetos Cauliflower
CCSD Volunteers: Sara Sheridan, Sonya Lawrence, Teresa Sisson

Dondero's Kitchen
Chefs: Tim Dondero, Isabella Westrich
Menu: Chicken Fajitas & Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes
CCSD Volunteers: Jenissa Gordon, CIndy Lane, Yinelis Hernandez

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe
Staff: Whit Richardson, Ana Camacho
Menu: Pizadilla with Chopped Salad
CCSD Volunteers: Chelsea Freeman, Ana Vaca, Dawn Baker

Food Bank of Northeast Georgia
Staff: Beegee Elder, Tracey Massey
Menu: Turkey, Cheese, & Veggie Panini with Steamed Broccoli with Lemon Zest
CCSD Volunteers: Larkin Kelly, Selene Huato, Michelle Lawrence

Demonstration Chefs
Charles Hay (The Olive Basket)
Ashley Na & Renee Smith (Athens Land Trust)
Brent Plagenhoef (Taqueria del Sol)
Rachel Hicks (Young Urban Farmers)

Information Table Hosts
Athens Farmers Market
School Garden Network/Keep ACC Beautiful
Richard B. Russell Library
Food Bank of Northeast Georgia
Strong Girls
Northeast Georgia Dietetic Association (NEGDA)
UGA Peer Nutrition Educators
Athens Area Master Gardeners
Athens Clarke County Solid Waste Department
Oconee River Greenway Commission

Planning Committee
Caree Cotwright
Connie Roberts
Hillary Savage
Jessica Rothacker
Jill SEvern
Joe Dunlop
Paula Farmer
Stacy Smith
Rachel Watkins
Jan Hebbard
Kelsey Thompson

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Peanut Gallery

Rep. Lindsay Thomas poses with
Georgia Peanut Princess, ca. 1980s.
Robert Lindsay Thomas Papers
What do the U.S. Navy, the National School Lunch Program, and the former Soviet Union have in common? Why, peanuts of course!

The new installation inside our History Lives Gallery explores Georgia's second largest cash crop through the lenses of our six key collecting areas: politics, public good, social relations, environment, economy, and peace and war. Assembled by volunteer researcher Bill Hugunine, the selection of items on display provides a series of stories about peanuts, from World War II through the 1990s, found in the Russell Library’s collections. Be sure to stop by on your next visit to the Russell Library Gallery!

Do you have a suggestion for what topic we should take on next in the gallery? Tweet your idea to @RussellLibrary and it may be the next to appear! 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Campus and Community Partners Host 4th Annual School Lunch Competition

Local chefs will once again take on the School Lunch Challenge March 24, creating tasty dishes that meet USDA requirements for the National School Lunch Program. Attendees will have a chance to sample the creations at the cooking competition from 12-1:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Whitehead Road Elementary School. 

Building on increased interest in the National School Lunch Program, and inspired by the 2014 exhibition, Food, Power,Politics: The Story of School Lunch, the Richard B.Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and others partnered in 2015 to create this fun, educational event to engage the Athens community with the past, present, and future of school lunch. “Richard Russell co-sponsored the legislation which created the National School Lunch Program in 1946. We are glad to host this event, now an annual happening that draws attention to the NSLP today,” said organizer Jan Hebbard, outreach archivist at the Russell Library. 

The 2018 event will offer 200 free tickets to the general public. The centerpiece of this event is a cooking competition which invites participating teams, advised by nutritionists from the Clarke County School District (CCSD), to create dishes in accordance with USDA guidelines for the National School Lunch Program. A panel of student judges drawn from CCSD schools will vote to determine an overall winner. The winning team’s plate will be incorporated into the CCSD school lunch menu during the 2018-2019 school year. 

Students from the Clarke County School District serve as judges at the competition,
taking notes and voting for their favorite dish. 
Last year local restaurant Last Resort Grill was voted the overall winner by student judges. Led by chef Larry Vivian, the team won over judges with a chicken parmesan sandwich paired with honey thyme glazed carrots. This recipe debuted on the CCSD School Lunch Menu in September 2017. The Last Resort team will return in 2018 to defend their title against new competitors Taziki’sMediterranean Cafe, Dondero’s Kitchen, and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia

Members of the Last Resort team celebrate their victory after being named
2017 Overall Champions by the student judging panel. 
The 2018 event will include cooking demonstrations from local chefs, focused on healthy snacks and meals that can be prepared by kids. Organizations connected to sustainable agriculture, community gardens, childhood nutrition, and farm to school programs in the Athens area will host information tables alongside a display of historical documents and artifacts related to the history of the National School Lunch Program. This year's event will also feature the Junior Food Fight, a live cooking competition in which two teams of high school students from the Athens Land Trust’s Young Urban Farmers program will compete to create dishes based on an assigned seasonal ingredient.

A family attending the event stops to learn more about
Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful (KACCB), one of the information table hosts
at the 2017 School Lunch Challenge. 
 The event is free and open to the public but attendance is limited. Tickets are available beginning Feb. 24 through the Eventbrite website. Attendees are encouraged to bring donation items to benefit the Food 2 Kids program operated by the Foodbank of Northeast Georgia. Requested items include jars of peanut butter, individual oatmeal packs, beef ravioli (pop top cans), chicken and rice (pop top cans), spaghettios with meatballs (pop top cans), mac and cheese (individual dry packs), and granola bars. 

Students in the Athens Land Trust’s Young Urban Farmers program
cook on stage during the event, competing in the first ever
Junior Food Fight event. 
The 2018 School Lunch Challenge is sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the Clarke County School District, Mayfield Dairy Farms, the Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department, UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences and Department of Foods and Nutrition, The Fresh Market, Seed Life Skills, Heirloom CafĂ© Athens, Athens Land Trust, and Athens Farm to School.

To obtain tickets visit

For more information, contact Jan Hebbard at or (706) 542-5788. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

UGA Special Collections Libraries Recruiting for Volunteer Tour Guide Program

The University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries is now accepting applications for participants in its docent program.  

The Docent Corps is made up of a group of volunteers who provide tours of the exhibit galleries to visitors, ranging from second graders to senior citizens. Docents are trained to highlight permanent and rotating exhibitions and to help increase awareness of the many resources offered by the three special collections libraries: The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The Walter J. Brown Media Archive and Peabody Awards Collections, and The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies

“Participation in the docent program requires a substantial commitment of time and energy on the part of volunteers, but can be tremendously rewarding,” said Jan Hebbard, outreach archivist with the Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, who coordinates the program. 

A 10-week training program, hosted from Feb. 13 through April 17, will provide an opportunity for docents to meet curators, archivists, and other special collections staff; learn about the collections and techniques for leading tours; and become familiar with all parts of the special collections libraries building. Follow-up monthly meetings throughout the year will provide continued opportunities to learn about new exhibits and programs sponsored by the libraries. All candidates selected for admission to the docent program will be required to submit to a background investigation. 

“We are looking for applicants who are enthusiastic, flexible, and open to working with visitors of all ages,” Hebbard said. “We don’t require prior experience in the arts and humanities, but a love of history and experience with teaching or public speaking is desirable.” 

For more information about the training schedule and expectations, please visit the FAQ’s page. Applications must be submitted by Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Please direct any questions to Jan Hebbard at or (706) 542-5788.  

Interested individuals can apply online by visiting: