Friday, August 29, 2014

The Story of School Lunch: FDR and Surplus Commodities

In the summer of 2014 Russell Library intern Kaylynn Washnock assisted in curating the new exhibit, “Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch” opening September 26th in the Russell Library’s Harrison Feature Gallery. The exhibit examines the complicated past of the National School Lunch Program, from feeding malnourished children and putting excess commodities to good use, to the more recent debates over childhood obesity and nutrition in America.  This post is one in a series where Kaylynn provides a preview of key documents in the exhibition.   

Amidst the Great Depression, the Roosevelt administration began disbursing donations of surplus commodities through several New Deal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Federal Surplus Commodity Corporation (FSCC), and the Surplus Marketing Administration (SMA). But the onset of World War II in 1941 reshaped federal support for lunch programs. Although Congress began rationing supplies and diverting labor to support the war effort, federal grants offered subsidies to school lunch programs for the purchase of food and milk.

Miscellaneous Publication 467,
produced by the USDA, October 1941.


The USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 467 demonstrates the effect of war on the program. The lunch program peaked during the 1941-1942 school year with nearly 6 million children served annually.

By March of 1941, most states in the economically depressed South and West had enrolled and worked with the Surplus Marketing Administration to receive foodstuffs. Georgia had the highest average for school enrollment in the nation at 61.7 percent. Ultimately, rising food and labor costs forced cuts in lunch service during the war years, which saw numbers dwindle.

At the close of World War II, school lunch proponents found a new advocate in Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. With his leadership, the still piece-meal initiative would navigate both houses of Congress and become a mandate of federal law. In 1946, Congress passed the National School Lunch Act establishing a nationwide program.

Want to find out more about School Lunch? Visit Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch on display in the Harrison Feature Gallery inside the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries from September 26, 2014 through May 15, 2015. The Russell Library gallery is free and open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. For more information, email russlib@uga.edu or call 706-542-5788.


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Story of School Lunch: Experimentation in the Progressive Era

In the summer of 2014 Russell Library intern Kaylynn Washnock assisted in curating the new exhibit, “Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch” opening September 26th in the Russell Library’s Harrison Feature Gallery. The exhibit examines the complicated past of the National School Lunch Program, from feeding malnourished children and putting excess commodities to good use, to the more recent debates over childhood obesity and nutrition in America. This post is one in a series where Kaylynn provides a preview of key documents featured in the exhibition.   

Front cover, USDA Farmer's Bulletin
No. 712 published in March 1916.
Experimentation with school lunch in the United States began during the Progressive Era (1890-1920). In growing urban centers like New York, Philadelphia, and Boston religious institutions, professional women’s groups, and charities launched the first free milk and lunch programs to combat pervasive childhood malnutrition.

As the USDA Farm Bulletin No. 712 noted, “Growing children have special needs in the way of food.” As the future generation of America, the growth of healthy children was of the utmost importance. The USDA’s sample menu relied on available foods according to season. While the winter menu baked apples, the summer diet offered students a variety of fruits.

Without state or federal aid, the majority of American school children continued without a school-provided lunch. But shortly, a period of financial depression and war would reshape thoughts on the issue.


Want to find out more about School Lunch? Visit Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch on display in the Harrison Feature Gallery inside the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries from September 26, 2014 through May 15, 2015. The Russell Library gallery is free and open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. For more information, email russlib@uga.edu or call 706-542-5788.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

New Installation in Russell Gallery Connects Visitors to Cartoons, Oral Histories



The History Lives Showcase Gallery occupies the central portion of the Russell Library’s exhibit space inside the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries. The gallery features materials drawn from the Russell Library’s collections and highlights six key collecting areas: Politics, Social Relations, Public Good, Environment, Economy, Peace and War. The contents of these cases rotate every six to twelve months and offer visitors a sample of the kind of documents and objects found in the archival collections.

A look at the last installation of the Politics of Peace
and War case in the History Lives Showcase Gallery.
Beginning in August 2014 the cases will showcase a selection of political cartoons drawn from the Clifford H. (Baldy) Baldowski Editorial Cartoon Collection. The cartoons have been matched with the library’s six collecting areas to spotlight stories connected to each of the "politics" areas.

In addition to selecting which cartoons to display, student curator Kaylynn Washnock also sorted through hours of the Russell Library's oral history recordings to find six audio clips that connect with the cartoons on display. The clips were selected from a variety of collections including the Reflections on Georgia Politics Series, The First Person Project, and The Georgia Environmental Oral History Project – all ongoing initiatives of the Russell Library’s Oral History and Media Unit. The clips have been compiled into a playlist on the Russell Library's SoundCloud page.

Signage in the gallery space provides a QR code which, when scanned, will connect a visitor directly to the SoundCloud playlist of audio clips. You blog readers can play these clips directly from the embedded link below! We hope visitors will enjoy this playlist either while they tour the gallery space or from the comfort of their personal computer. Our staff hopes this experiment in the gallery gives visitors a greater sense of the breadth of oral history collections at the library and a quick look into some of the most recent interviews conducted by the Oral History and Media Unit team, Callie Holmes and Christian Lopez.

The Russell Library Gallery is free and open to the public weekday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. For more information on the exhibit, email russlib@uga.edu or call (706) 542-5788.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Powell A. Moore Papers Now Open for Research

Powell Moore in his office during the
Nixon administration, ca. 1974.
The Richard B. Russell Library is pleased to announce that the Powell A. Moore Papers are now open for research. The papers capture Moore's nearly five-decade career involved in legislative affairs, public policy and international relations within the federal government and the private sector   By virtue of his various positions, Moore corresponded and interacted with a wide range of individuals at different levels of the government, including prominent U.S. Senators, and clients in the private sector, from international corporations to foreign governments. His correspondence also documents the myriad of professional and personal inquiries and requests he received. Moore retained a wealth of documentation related to the man who gave him his start in Washington, Senator Richard B. Russell. Moore’s papers also feature information related to the many congressional delegations he accompanied abroad during his tenure. The papers include reports, news clippings, invitations, program materials, artifacts and audiovisual materials related to his work and to numerous presidential campaigns, conventions and inaugurations from 1972 to 2009. Photographs feature portraits of well-known Georgia and national political figures and other images, including six United States Presidents.

Moore’s earliest government service was in the U.S. Army. Part of that time he was stationed in Germany, during the construction of the Berlin Wall, which he credits for his developing an affinity with the Republican Party. The opportunity that brought him to Washington, D.C., in 1966 was his work as press secretary for Senator Richard B. Russell. Moore’s papers go beyond documenting his working relationship with the Senator and also chronicle the period surrounding Senator Russell’s passing. Moore’s life-long interest in Senator Russell’s life and accomplishments is evidenced in the material from dedications and events that have helped keep Senator Russell’s legacy alive.

Moore went on to be part of four presidential administrations. During the Nixon administration he was Public Information Officer in the Office of Attorney General within the Department of Justice. Moore was part of the Committee to Reelect the President during the 1972 campaign and was later the Director of Press Relations for the Inaugural Committee.

Moore with President Gerald Ford, August 1974.
During Nixon’s second term and into the early part of Ford’s term, Moore was Deputy Special Assistant to the President in the Congressional Relations Office. Moore did not remain a “Nixon leftover” for long as he left the federal government to start his own consulting firm, Powell Moore & Company, to advise and represent a variety of clients. After six years, he re-entered government service under the Reagan administration. First he was appointed Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs in 1981. Moore oversaw the Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor while holding this position. He later was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs.

Powell Moore serving as Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs
in the George W. Bush administration, May 2001.
Towards the end of 1983, Moore left the Reagan administration to become Vice President for Legislative Affairs for the Lockheed Corporation. He went back to consulting from 1985 to 1998, working for Ginn, Edington, Moore, and Wade; Capitoline International Group; and Global USA. In 1998 he returned to federal government service once again to become Chief of Staff for Senator Fred Thompson.
Moore became part of a fourth presidential administration when he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs during George W. Bush’s first term. During this period, he received the Defense Department’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service. He went on to become the Managing Director for Federal Government Relations for McKenna, Long & Aldridge. In 2006, Moore became the Representative of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna, Austria. In 2010, he joined Venable LLP.

Moore was born on January 5, 1938, in Milledgeville, Georgia. He is a graduate of Georgia Military College and was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. Moore remained an active alumnus of both institutions and received a number of honors from them throughout his career. He was editor of the Milledgeville newspaper,  The Union-Recorder, and worked for Southern Natural Gas before working for Senator Russell. Throughout his life he has been involved in a number of civic activities. He currently works as a consultant and lives with his wife, Pamla, in Washington, D.C. Together they have two sons and two daughters.

Moore was interviewed for the Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series in December 2009. You can view the ROGP interview below through the Russell Library's YouTube channel. To read the interview transcript, visit: http://podcaster.gcsu.edu/podcastdata/UGA/Channel_14896/podcast_2433199/2433199.pdf


The Richard B. Russell Library is open for research from 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday (with the exception of University of Georgia holidays). For more information on this and other collections call (706) 542-5788, email russlib@uga.edu, or visit www.libs.uga.edu/russell.

Post by Mark Walters, Political Papers Processing Intern, Russell Library 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Memorex: Adventures in Unusual Formats

As 1974 was drawing to a close, Powell A. Moore wrote a letter to President Gerald Ford resigning from his post as Deputy Special Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Moore had been a so-called “Nixon leftover,” having stayed on after Ford entered office. Perhaps he was following standard protocol or perhaps he wanted to use the latest technology, but Moore’s decision to use a Memorex magnetic card as the media to preserve the letter he had written to the President presented me with my first encounter with this piece of 1970s technology while processing the Powell A. Moore Papers during my internship this summer.

A Memorex memory card containing Powell Moore's letter resigning from the
Ford administration.

So what exactly is a magnetic card? To me it looks like a piece of undeveloped film or microfilm without any images, except in the shape and size of a punch card minus the punches. (Without “Powell’s Resignation letter to the President” written on the self-proclaimed “Flexible Folder” in which the magnetic card was enclosed, I would have had no idea what content it contained.) According to the promotional material I discovered online, Memorex released a new “writable surface” magnetic card for use with IBM’s second generation Mag Card II, Mag Card Selectric, and Mag Card Executive typewriters in early 1974. So in order to understand what properties this card has, I needed to look at how the equipment transferred information to and retrieved information from this magnetic card.

All of IBM’s Mag Card typewriters stored information on magnetic cards and had the ability to erase errors by backspacing and typing over the error, automatically saving the new data to the card. New content could be inserted into the text by only typing the changes; what is already stored will appear without the need to retype it. Editing and revising the document happens on the card, not on the sheet of paper. But unlike later word processing typewriters, there was no screen; your only frame of reference was your paper. You had buttons to help you navigate by paragraph, line, and word to get to the location where the correction was to be made. Once errors were corrected and your draft finalized, the typewriter typed your document automatically from the information stored on the card at a rate much faster than even the most skilled typist could type.

It is not possible to tell which type of IBM typewriter Moore used to prepare his letter by examining the magnetic card alone. And the Russell Library does not have the typewriter that could tell us if the card is still viable. In large part because of the cost – the Mag Card II Typewriter was priced at $11,000 in 1973 -- the typewriters and card reader systems would have been restricted to use in an office environment. And the typewriters were never produced on the scale that personal computers came to be, making the format even more obsolete than the floppy disk.

Moore’s position with the federal government led to the creation of a record on this technological format. Had he not used a Memorex magnetic card to preserve his resignation letter, I would not have learned about this small technological current that rose and crested in the 1970s.

Post by Mark Walters, Political Papers Processing Intern
Mark Walters, Russell Library summer intern.


Friday, May 30, 2014

"The Right Leadership at the Top:” The Records of the Georgia Republican Party Chairman

Note: In February of this year, the Russell Library embarked on a one-year project to process the records of the Democratic Party of Georgia (Georgia Democrats) and the Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP), funded by a generous grant of up to $58,777 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). In her second blog post for the project, archivist Angelica Marini highlights the role of Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and the records that illustrate the Chairman’s influence.

In 1995, Rusty Paul, fresh off stints in the federal government, took part in a competitive race for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. His campaign literature promoted grassroots activism, political training, and how, as Chairman, he would lead the party to “the next plateau” as “the right leadership at the top.” This statement speaks volumes about how the party viewed itself as an organization at the time. And the records of the Georgia Republican Party show a political organization dedicated to grassroots political action and local politics in the 1990s, but also one that favored top-down, business-style leadership. In particular, the Administrative and Political series in the GAGOP Records provide a unique view of how the party transformed with the election of new executive officers and their appointed administrative staffs and reflect important changes in grassroots leadership, management styles, and fundraising and finance.

The Administrative series contains files of the men who served as Chairman from 1980 to 1998: Bob Bell (1983-1985), Paul Coverdell (1985-1987), John Stuckey (1987-1989), Alec Poitevint (1989-1993), Billy Lovett (1993-1995), and Rusty Paul (1995-1999). (Sue Everhart, the first woman to be elected to this important leadership role, served two terms from 2009 to 2013.) These files contain correspondence, memos, publicity releases, meeting minutes, and major reports and political plans. Additional materials in the Political series consist of candidate and issue research files, convention materials, and district and county files. Taken together, these records offer researchers countless insights into the political leadership, organization, and focus of individual Chairmen and their staffs.

The records of Alec Poitevint, for example, reflect a Chairman who was involved in nearly every aspect of party management. Records from Billy Lovett’s administration are interspersed with the records of the political director, implying a leader who was directly involved with and focused on campaigns. In contrast, the records of Rusty Paul’s chairmanship show a significant redevelopment of planning and political direction for the party as a whole.



Delegate tallies hurriedly scrawled on an Alec
Poitevint bio sheet reflect the quickly changing
fortunes in a chairman's campaign.
The 2013 Rules of the Georgia Republican Party outline the duties of the State Party Chairman and stress the importance of this position. He is the “Chief Executive Officer, chairman of the State Committee, chairman of the State Executive Committee and spokesman of the GRP.” (Rules of the Georgia Republican Party, 2013) He convenes and presides at the State Committee meetings and conventions, and he appoints committees and the positions of General Counsel, Finance Chairman, and other members of the state party staff. While the State Chairman is obligated to appoint individuals to committees and carry out the administrative business of the party, he is also asked to be a “spokesman of the GRP.” Being a spokesman for the Georgia Republican Party includes leading the party in a general direction and providing a solid political plan.

The Georgia Republican Party elects its Chairman at state party conventions held every two years in odd number years. Some of the election cycles for the Chairman position could be quite competitive. Rusty Paul was first elected at the 1995 convention dynamic and remembered it as raucous and fun. He recalled a dynamic convention atmosphere and an election that required a lot of movement; Paul said that “the whole process of watching a convention and how it functioned; it’s not like an election. I mean there’s the ebb and flow of support back and forth. And, you know, you’re on your walkie-talkie listening and you say, well, the delegation in this area has got some questions and you hustle over there to answer questions.”  (Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 121 Rusty Paul) The elections were often highly competitive as the party grew in size and political strength.

Some conventions could be raucous and fun, but Georgia Republicans at the 1989 state convention were still dealing with political divisions caused by the Republican presidential nominating conventions. In 1988, supporters of religious conservative candidate Pat Robertson threatened to derail the Georgia convention over the presidential nomination. In 1989 delegates at the state party convention were still factionalized and it took four ballots to elect Chairman Alec Poitevint. Files from the convention in Poitevint’s records illustrate how close the election for Chairman was that year; numerous typed and handwritten vote counts taken throughout the convention recorded various election possibilities. A number of convention materials, like the biographical information about Poitevint, have delegate tallies scrawled on them. These recorded vote counts reflect the immediate political campaigning that Rusty Paul described in his interview. As candidates dropped out of the race Poitevint and his team were able to tally up more supporters as delegate votes swung to those still in the race.

In the 1990s Republicans in Georgia experienced very real change in their political landscape. Redistricting based on the 1990 census reflected an explosion in suburban growth in Georgia, a population that largely voted Republican. In 1992 and 1994 Republicans had enormous electoral successes.  As the Georgia Republican Party grew, the state conventions also grew in size and scope. At the 1995 state convention in Savannah -- the first Georgia GOP convention to attract lobbyists -- the growing pains of the party were apparent and the competition for the chairmanship was keen. Candidates that year represented old and new Georgia Republicans -- Christian conservatives, the state party establishment, an expanded base of suburban voters, and newly Republican rural voters.

In that hotly contested 1995 election for Chairman, top candidates had garnered statewide media attention by accusing each other of dirty tricks. Of the four candidates running for the position, Rusty Paul was the perceived outsider and underdog. Paul had plenty of political experience, though. He managed Jack Kemp’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988 and served as a Bush appointee in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in the early 1990s. He didn’t think he would win but thought running would be a good way to get back into state politics.

"Rusty's Contract With The GOP" makes the
case for Paul as the party's next Chairman.
“The way we would select a chairman of the Republican Party,” Paul explains, “is different than any other office. I mean, you run around the state like you’re a statewide candidate but instead of talking to voters you’re talking to people who are likely to be the delegates to their local conventions. Whether it’s their precinct caucus, or their county convention, their congressional district convention, and then the state convention.”  (Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 121 Rusty Paul) Paul’s commitment to running for the office of Chairman was in part what got him elected. His distance from perceived problems in the state party, his experience managing political campaigns, and his political plan for the party made him an appealing choice. His campaign literature focused on making a positive impact on Georgia politics. Paul capitalized on recent Republican successes and pitched “Rusty’s Contract With the GOP,” a la Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract With America, in his campaign literature.
 

The Administrative and Political Series together shed light on the personal leadership styles of the individuals at the top of the party. As a result, these records provide researchers a fuller, more complex picture of the GAGOP as an organization.

Next up:  The role of the GAGOP’s Executive Director and the development of political plans…

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Choosing to Participate Exhibit Opens May 2nd

A new exhibit intended to inspire people of all ages to create positive social change, Choosing to Participate, opens May 2, 2014 at the Richard B. Russell Library Gallery on the University of Georgia campus.

A set of 11 graphically compelling posters developed by The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the educational organization Facing History and Ourselves serves as the core of the exhibit. The graphics present the experiences of individuals and communities, explore the impact of cultural differences, and encourage viewers to consider the consequences of everyday choices—to discover how “little things are big”—and to make a difference in their own communities. A companion website features a host of resources for teachers, families, and communities: www.sites.si.edu/choosingtoparticipate 

Using the poster set as a framework, Russell Library student worker Sarah Hughes, a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs, acted as curator and selected items from the Russell Library's archival holdings to highlight topics, events, and people that tie into the larger themes explored in the graphic panels. The combination of the graphics and primary resources is intended to encourage dialogue, engagement, respect, and participation among visitors. Choosing to Participate will remain on display at the Russell Library through August 30.

The poster set is being distributed at no cost to schools, libraries, museums, and community organizations through partnerships including Teaching Tolerance, Boys & Girls Club of America and the American Library Association. Special thanks to the Walmart Foundation, the national Sponsor of Choosing to Participate. Support for distribution to Teaching Tolerance made possible by the Malka Fund.

The Russell Library gallery is free and open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. For more information on the exhibit, email russlib@uga.edu or call 706-542-5788.

Want a quick overview of the exhibit? Check out this introduction from our student curator, Sarah Hughes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdI1g19vZQs 

Want a behind the scenes tour of the exhibit? Check out our interview clips with Sarah Hughes on her role as student curator and choices for the display on the Russell Library's SoundCloud page. Or use the QR code below!  

https://soundcloud.com/russelllibraryoralhistory/sets/ctp

Media and American Civil Liberties: A Multimedia Event @ Russell Library


What: "Media and American Civil Liberties: Moments in Time"
When: Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 12-3 p.m.
Where: Room 271 Russell Special Collections Libraries Building  

Students enrolled in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication course "History of Mass Media in the United States" will present their semester-long projects from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Libraries. The event is open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Working in groups, students have studied eight moments in history when American liberties were either strengthened or diminished, and their reports will highlight media involvement in those important historical moments.

This project grew out of a University of Georgia Center for Teaching and Learning "Faculty Learning Community," and has been done in collaboration with the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries, including Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library; Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies; and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection. Students have worked with Professor Janice Hume, and Archivists Jill Severn, Mary Miller, and Charles Barber.






Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting the Party Started: Processing the Records of Georgia's Political Parties

Note: In February of this year, the Russell Library embarked on a one-year project to process the records of the Democratic Party of Georgia (Georgia Democrats) and the Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP), funded by a generous grant of up to $58,777 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Because the records will not be open for research for several months, project archivist Angelica Marini will be providing a series of short articles throughout the year highlighting various aspects of the records as she works to organize, describe and make them available. In this, her first blog post for the project, she underscores the value of the Georgia Republican Party Records as an important resource for studying the historic political realignment of the state in the second half of the twentieth century.

A small sampling of the GAGOP records awaiting processing.


Once available for research, the Georgia Republican Party Records will be one of the largest processed collections of official state Republican Party records in the country and the largest in the Southeast. Complementing the University of South Carolina’s Republican Party of South Carolina Papers and Auburn University’s Alabama Republican Party Records, the Georgia Republican Party Records, dating from 1975 to 1998, are a unique collection of administrative records, political files, financial and fundraising materials, and campaign files that will enable researchers to gain new insights into the dramatic political realignment of the South in the twentieth century.

In 1960 there were only two Republican members of the State House and just one Republican State Senator in Georgia. The Georgia Republican Party was politically weak and the state was dominated by the Democratic Party of Georgia. It was not until later in the second half of the twentieth century that Georgia was a truly modern two-party political system. The records reflect this historical development of the party as the bulk of materials date from the later period. While the Republican Party collections in South Carolina and Alabama contain materials from the 1920s, most of the materials date from this modern period, 1960 to 2000. The bulk of the South Carolina Republican Party records date from 1962 to 2001 and the records of the Alabama Republican Party date from 1960 to 1994. Likewise the Georgia Republican Party saw their most significant gains after 1980 and the bulk of the materials date from 1980 to 1996.

What kept the Georgia Republican party from power for so long? The explanation requires a look at the political history of the South. An alleged political deal between Democrats and Republicans in 1877 brokered the end of Reconstruction. The contested presidential election resulted in a compromise between the parties that allowed for Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes to be seated in return for the end of federal military intervention in the South. Over the next twenty-five years, all across the South, the Republican Party lost what limited power they held during Reconstruction. The historical legacy of Reconstruction affected the political growth of the Republican Party far beyond the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, though, as the Democratic Party dominated Southern politics until the 1960s.

The national Democratic Party started to change in the 1960s and broadly supported civil rights legislation and aligned with more liberal policies. The changes in national party platforms alienated conservative Southern Democrats and by the 1970s many Southern states were in the process of moving to a Republican majority. In Georgia, this regional political realignment was influenced additionally by migration to the state. Beginning in the 1950s, state politicians and policies promoted Georgia as a friendly place for business. Republicans increased their favor as they promoted themselves as the political party that stood for business interests. Georgia Republicans also recruited party members from transplanted Northern Republicans. The first Republican since Reconstruction to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate, Mack Mattingly (originally from Indiana), noted that “What they [the Democratic Party] didn’t understand back then were what we call ‘demographics.’ They did not understand that the demographics of Georgia had changed – your IBMers from Indiana, you know, everybody from all different places – it had changed.” (Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 014 Mack Mattingly) These changes made a real difference in the political strength of the Republican Party in Georgia. By 1997, the Republicans elected 79 members to the State House and 22 members to the State Senate. The last decades of the twentieth century saw the Republican Party become a major political power in the state and in 2002, Georgians elected their first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue.

The bulk of the Georgia Republican Party Records date from a period of substantial political growth for the party. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Republican Party emerged as a powerful political opponent to the Democrats. The records document the party’s administration by Party Chairmen and Executive Directors. Political files include research materials maintained by the political directors, state convention materials, and county and district files. Financial records reflect the growth of the party through fundraising and events. The campaign records contain strategic planning documents and statistical analysis of election results using the ORVIS program (Optimal Republican Voting Strength) adopted in the 1980s. These records are an invaluable source of information for anyone interested in researching the growth of the Georgia Republican Party during an important transitional period.


Post by Angelica Marini, Project Archivist, Russell Library

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Happy 225th Birthday, Congress!



The Russell Library joins its Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC) partner institutions across the nation to celebrate this landmark birthday during Congress Week 2014—April 1-7 with a week-long Twitter Fest focused on the forty-seven members of the U.S.  Congress and Senate representing Georgia who have placed their papers with the Russell Library.  The Twitter series is curated by Russell Library student assistants Sarah Hughes and Patrick Klibanoff and presents key moments from the careers of these Georgians.


The central goal of Congress Week is to foster the study of the United States House and Senate, and to promote a wider appreciation for the vital role the legislative branch plays in our representative democracy. Our celebration lauds its survival and its level of success over 225 years in finding ways to make representative democracy work.

Actually, the birth of Congress was not a single day event but a process of deliberation in the Federal Convention that met in the spring and summer of 1787. The Constitution provided for Congress to convene on March 4, 1789, and on that date, in New York City, the first meeting place of Congress, cannons fired and church bells rang to announce Congress's birth.

But only a few members had arrived on that date. Weeks passed before the House achieved its first quorum on April 1, with the Senate following five days later on April 6. Some members worried that the government would fail before it began. Fisher Ames of Massachusetts a member of the House, wrote "We lose credit, spirit, everything. The public will forget the government before it is born."

The fact that the House achieved its first quorum on April 1 was not lost on members then and will probably not be ignored today when we note that the first quorum was achieved on April Fool's Day. We could use a little humor as we contemplate the serious role Congress has played in shaping the long-range success of a mighty nation, whose Capitol is a symbol of freedom throughout the world.

In 2003, ACSC was founded as an independent alliance of institutions and organizations that support a wide range of programs designed to inform and educate students, scholars, policy-makers, and members of the general public on the history of Congress, legislative process, and current issues facing the United States Congress. ACSC encourages the preservation of material that documents the work of Congress, including the papers of representatives and senators, and supports programs that make those materials available for educational and research use.  The association also welcomes the participation of institutions and individuals committed to our goal of promoting a better understanding of Congress.

To experience the Georgians in Congress Twitter Fest, follow the Russell Library on Twitter: @RussellLibrary.  To find other congressional centers celebrating Congress Week on Twitter, search for the hashtag #CongressWeek