Monday, December 21, 2009

Brown Bag Film Series

On May 17, 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas, putting an end to legal segregation in public schools. A major triumph in the struggle for civil rights, the Brown decision fueled an entrenched campaign of massive resistance by many fearful whites throughout the region. In the years that followed, school desegregation took center stage in the media, as well as in the hearts and minds of citizens across the country. This spring, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia, invites you to consider the history and legacy of school desegregation by attending the Measuring Deliberate Speed Brown Bag Film & Discussion Series.

The Russell Library will host lunchtime screenings of five documentary films that explore the impact of school desegregation in the United States. Drawn from the collection of the Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection, the short films examine different perspectives and range in creation date from 1961 to 2007. Each screening will begin with an introduction from Peabody Awards Collection Archivist Mary Miller, and will conclude with an informal discussion about the topics addressed. The series will take place each Friday afternoon, from 12:00-1:00PM, January 22, 2010 through February 19, 2010 at the Richard B. Russell Library. A final screening and discussion event will be held on the evening of February 25, 2010 from 7:00-9:00PM, also at the Russell Library.

Schedule of Screenings:

Film: School: The Story of American Public Education (2001)
Date: Friday, January 22, 2010
Time: 12:00-1:00PM

Film: Hoxie: The First Stand (2003)
Date: Friday, January 29, 2010
Time: 12:00-1:00PM

Film: A Tale of Two Cities, 1961: Atlanta-Dallas Prepare for School De-Segregation (1961)
Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
Time: 12:00-1:00PM

Film: Busing: Some Voices from the South (1972)
Date: Friday, February 12, 2010
Time: 12:00-1:00PM

Film: The Education of Ms. Groves (2006)
Date: February 19, 2010
Time: 12:00-1:00PM

**Evening Screening Even!**
Film: Little Rock Central High: 50 Years Later (2007)
Date: February 25, 2010
Time: 7:00-9:00PM

This program series is free and open to all. For further information, please contact or call (706) 542-5788. For more information on the films listed above, visit the Peabody Awards Collection Database.

The Russell Library's exhibit, Measuring Deliberate Speed: Georgians Face School Desegregation, will remain on display in the library's main gallery through February 26, 2010. For more information on guided tours for groups or individuals, contact

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From the Director

2009 marked the Russell Library’s 35th year—a year so busy that we have had no time to pause or reflect. Our celebration seemingly has been an acceleration of activities that demonstrate the growth and prominence of the Russell. If you follow us on the Web or otherwise, you have a good idea of what’s happening. With my first blog post, however, I am going to pause and reflect about the productive year we have had.

In September 2009, our online launch of a new database of research finding aids eclipsed any other event. A project of several years (not counting those in which we only could dream of the possibility) brought to fruition, it was almost “show-stopping”; we are so proud. The database allows patrons to conduct full-text searching of collection finding aids, browse by subject, and browse alphabetically by collection title and collection creator. Not only are our collections more accessible for off-site users but also all patrons can target collections that are most relevant to their areas of interest. At present, the database contains finding aids for over a hundred of our collections – a number that will grow extensively as staff members continue to build this resource.

The same month, the Vintage Baseball database was put online. It was also a project of numerous years, but so worth the wait. The development of the databases was a collaborative effort among former and current staff members of the Russell Library, the Digital Library of Georgia, and the Libraries Systems department. On the frontline for us was Abby Griner, who is persistent and obviously loves challenges. Brava, Abby.

Below: oral history interview with Bill Stuckey

Our Media and Oral History unit spent the year on the road again with Bob Short. Reflections on Georgia Politics produced its 89th interview and the project team has great plans for 2010. Fortunately, this project continues to garner financial gifts for its operation. Chris Lopez’s arrival in midyear was welcomed by all and allowed the unit more flexibility for completing administrative work and managing the media collections. The unit has also expanded partnerships on and off campus that will build collections, promote programming, and provide needed support. Congratulations to Craig Breaden and MOH for steadily building one of the top such programs among research centers.

Below: Sheryl and Kat on collecting trip
Arrangement and Description, led by Kat Shirley, bears the challenge of preparing for our first move. Conducting a complete inventory of holdings at four sites, correcting intellectual and physical errors and updating records; contributing to decision-making on bar coding and high density retrieval systems, on new building workflow, storage, and office systems, specs for a paper Conservation Lab; planning the physical move of collections and re-shelving are just a few of Kat’s tasks. Although there is some student assistance, she has no respite from regular duties such as collection pick up, accessioning, processing and supervising. She is a “Wonder-Woman,” and we appreciate her. Project Archivist Renna Tuten has completed the two-year grant to process the Hugh Peterson, Sr. Papers and announced the opening of the collection. We all rejoice at job well done—and meeting deadline.

Jill Severn, with Jan Levinson and Abby Griner, has taken Access and Outreach to new heights. Jill and Jan managed to fabricate two major exhibits during the year while promoting partnerships and public programming on and off campus. I am exceptionally proud of their presentation of Measuring Deliberate Speed: Georgians Face School Desegregation, the culmination of a year of research and planning. The exhibit was created to showcase materials that illuminate the tactics, rhetoric, and reactions of Georgians to federal school desegregation mandates. Using text panels, artifacts, and selected audio and film clips, the display examines the landmark federal and state legal decisions that led to the desegregation of public schools in Georgia between 1950 and 1961.
Below: Participants at RFCLG 2009 PPI
The Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia continues to prosper under Jill’s leadership. Now the core outreach program for the Russell, the Forum fulfills Senator Russell’s call for an informed citizenry and follows the National Issues Forums model for civic engagement and deliberative discussion. Jill, Jan, and Forum consultant Margaret Holt, with various partners held institutes and forums this year. Crusaders or not, this is one dedicated and enthusiastic team. Abby Griner also established the Russell’s electronic records program for its collections. She inventoried and assessed collection electronic records, worked with local Systems personnel for server needs, outsourced old formats for transfer or evaluation, and began contacting congressional offices’ systems managers. Woo Hoo!!! You go, girl, and we’ll soon be in the advance.

And, what have I done? I’ve pedaled hard to keep abreast of the talented Russell staff; it’s a reward for me to encourage, support, advocate, cheer on, and participate in their visions, projects, and accomplishments. I, too, have been embroiled in new building and moving plans, meeting with architects and consultants, responding to Spec requests, and traveling to see how others have done it. It is challenging, it is exciting, and it is almost unbelievable that we are breaking ground in late January.

I have to observe that the Russell’s 35th year is also my 35th year at the Russell. Spending most of my time now with donor relations and development, I have traversed Georgia and ventured to the DC area to meet with former, new, and prospective stakeholders. What a delight to renew old friendships and make new ones. What a reassurance to engage with Georgians and others who are interested in our work, active in politics and policy, and who recognize the importance of preserving and making accessible our record as a democracy. What an affirmation of our mission and Senator Russell’s legacy.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season. We look forward to seeing you in 2010.

Sheryl B. Vogt

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Forum Report: Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance: A Matter of Policy and Philosophy
Policy and attitudes related to balancing work with quality of life were the focus of the Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia’s December informal Forum on Friday afternoon. Led by new moderators Monica Pereira and Pat Priest, the group of 12 participants used the Lattice Group’s deliberative issue guide to consider three approaches to achieving a work life balance.

Moderators Pat Priest (left) and Monica Pereira (right)
Before the group tackled each approach they talked generally about the issue and their relationship to it. There was a wide range of ages in the forum group and this diversity was reflected in participant’s attitudes about the challenges of balancing work and life. Younger twenty-somethings who were either single or in relationships that didn’t include children felt that often definitions of life balance were too narrowly defined around childcare and family issues in American society. Some of the older forum participants reflected on experiences and expectations from their earlier working lives when it was more typical for workers to achieve acclaim in their jobs by working long hours and always putting work before family.

Other areas of early reflection were the impact of women in the workforce and the consideration of an international perspective -- thinking about policies in place in European countries regarding vacation time. Rounding out the initial discussion, one forum participant commented that she felt that discussion of this topic in the midst of all the economic turmoil the country faces feels almost like a luxury since so many people aren’t balancing work with life, but are struggling to balance their personal relationships and family connections with the time and energy and emotionally draining challenge of unemployment and economic hardship.

Informed by this historical and geographic overview of the issue, and chastened by the harsh reality of the economic times, the group moved to consider the three approaches:

Approach 1: Balance is Unrealistic: This approach argues that to maintain the United States’ competitive edge, worker productivity must remain the most important goal, and as such, people should develop realistic priorities even if it means difficult choices between work and family.

Approach 2: Balance is Good for Business: This approach argues that implementing policies that help workers achieve better work life balance is actually a good business strategy. Proponents of this approach site studies that show that flexible work life policies improve productivity increase the pool of competent workers and retain good workers over time.

Approach 3: Balance is a Social Responsibility:
Proponents of this approach argue that the current work-life model is bad for American families and perpetuates gender-based inequalities. The government plays a role in this approach by providing, mandating, and enforcing paid maternity and paternity leave, paid sick leave, and public childcare.

The conversation was rich and the group grappled with the tensions in each of the approaches. Great consideration was given to what people were best and least served by each solution - from corporations to small business owners, service industry employees to white collar workers. For a full report on the deliberative discussion at this forum, click HERE or on the image of our moderators above.

Mark your calendars for our next informal forum on Friday January 15, 2010 from 3:00-4:30PM at the Russell Library -- the topic: "The New Challenges of American Immigration: What Should We Do?" For more information call (706) 542-5788 or visit The dates for all of our upcoming forums can be found on the Russell Forum Training and Program Calendar.

On the Road with Bob

A few weeks ago I had the chance to take a road trip to south Georgia with Bob Short, the Russell Library’s interviewer for its Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series. We had a couple days to drive down and speak with Harry Dixon in Waycross, and then with Ford Spinks in Tifton. Our trip south started early. Bob had already driven a couple hours down from Blairsville to meet me in Athens, but he was ready for the trip ahead. We pulled out of the UGA motor pool and headed down Hwy 15.

It was a beautiful, late autumn day with little traffic and our conversation made the ride pass by quickly. We were equipped with Bob’s GPS (a perky device called “Lucy”), but we didn’t need it. The drive was straight ahead through a series of small towns -- Soperton, Hazlehurst, Mount Vernon – just two lane roads, cotton fields, and timber forests. As we rolled through hamlets across the Georgia countryside Bob recited the names of hometown politicians. In Soperton, Bob asked me to make a quick stop so he could visit his friend Hugh Gillis. Gillis gave ROGP a great interview just last year. Bob wanted to say a quick hello and “thanks again.” Lucky for us, Gillis was in and our stop was a pleasant surprise. Hugh, 91 years old, was busy at work but made the time to chat. Before we knew it, Gillis offered to make a donation to the Russell Library's oral history program, a wonderful gesture which we gladly accepted!

Though Bob Short never held public office (aside from a one-time run for Public Service Commissioner), he has been deeply involved in Georgia politics for nearly fifty years. In 1999 he published, Everything is Pickrick: the life of Lester Maddox, for which he was honored as Georgia Writer of the Year. He seems to know everything about Georgia politics from the last half of last century and, what’s more, he has an uncanny ability to recall even the smallest details. We talked national and state politics most of the day before we tired of it. Our first interview (or conversation, as Bob prefers to call them) was late that same afternoon in Waycross with Harry Dixon. A former state legislator who served for over 30 years in the Georgia General Assembly, Dixon is a spirited man with many stories to tell. He loves a good story and offered up more than a few during the interview, including a few about Governor Marvin Griffin. His recollections of politics were interwoven with personal memories from his time working as a railroad engineer. Almost two hours later, Harry and Bob wrapped up with Harry inviting us to return for “part two!”

We next headed west to Tifton where we had dinner and spent the night at a Holiday Inn. We talked shop a bit and laughed again at Dixon’s sense of humor. As it got dark and the rain started the conversation turned more towards Bob, with whom I’ve worked a lot with over the last six months but knew little about personally. Road trips are good for getting to know someone. Bob told me he played basketball and baseball at Georgia Southern on a scholarship. His first job was at the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a sports journalist. He served in the LBJ administration as head of what later became FEMA. He coached Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and basketball for thirty years. He plays guitar and has a son who has recorded and toured with some top name country stars. He is the parent of an adopted child. I was surprised at the number of things we had in common, though our backgrounds couldn’t be more different.

The next morning, after a free breakfast buffet “Lucy” located the home of Ford Spinks, former state legislator and public service commissioner during Governor Jimmy Carter’s administration. Spinks was a thoughtful and soft-spoken man who got sentimental when recalling events that were, in his words, “long ago and far away.” Storms had been brewing all morning and I heard a little sizzle in my headphones during one nearby lightning strike. Luckily, we finished the conversation with Mr. Spinks without any electrifying complications. I loaded up and away we went up I-75 in stormy weather.

It was a wet drive but we made good time. I wanted Bob to have some daylight in which to drive back over the mountains to Blairsville that evening. Bob’s been calling me “Earnhardt” ever since, though I maintain I did not speed. The conversation was easy, floating back and forth from politics to music, with Bob again noting every hometown politician along our route up I-75 to Macon between our discussions of country music and his old friend, Zell Miller.

I knew I would get a real education in Georgia politics on this trip, but I think I was surprised by how much Bob Short and I have in common. I think we’re a better oral history team as a result of our conversations. Hopefully we’ll be back on the road again soon, gathering more reflections on Georgia politics.

Post by Christian Lopez, Oral History Coordinator, Russell Library.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peterson Collection Now Open

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies is pleased to announce that the Hugh Peterson, Sr. Papers are now open for research. Peterson served in the U.S. House for twelve years from 1934 to 1946. A Democrat, he represented Georgia’s 1st District, which included the cities Savannah, Statesboro, and Vidalia.

Hugh Peterson was born in 1898 in Ailey, Georgia and was a 1918 graduate of the University of Georgia. He served in the Georgia Legislature from 1922 to 1932 and his involvement in state politics included work on the Aviation, Public Highways, and Appropriations Committees. His most well-known piece of legislation was the State Reorganization Act of 1931, which consolidated over 100 state agencies into 19.

Below: Hugh Peterson, Georgia General Assembly portrait, 1925
In 1934, Peterson won a seat in the 74th Congress as a representative of Georgia’s 1st Congressional District. He remained in office until 1946 and his service included extensive research on agriculture and public lands and territories in the United States. He spent his first few terms drafting H.R. 8286 - A Bill to Provide Homesteads Free of Debt for Actual Farm Families, the goal of which was to help American farmers during the Great Depression with their farm debt. As in the state legislature, Peterson was active on numerous committees including: the Committee on Public Lands, the Committee on Territories (in which he spent time studying Hawaii and Alaska), and the Public Roads Committee, the service of which took him to Central America to inspect the Inter-American Highway (now known as the Pan American Highway) as it was being built.

After his congressional career, Peterson continued to be active in politics. He was appointed by General Lucius Clay to serve as an advisor in Germany in 1948. From his retirement from Congress through his death in 1961, Peterson spent the rest of his career as a lobbyist for the Georgia Power Company, the United States Cane Refiners Association and the American Turpentine Farmers’ Association. He also pursued development interests around southeast Georgia, including the resurrection of the Ocean Steamship Company and the establishment of a radio and television station. He also researched further development around Sylva, North Carolina. It was there that he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on October 3, 1961. He was survived by his wife, Patience Russell Peterson (a sister of Senator Richard B. Russell), who died in 2002 at the age of 100, and his son, Hugh Peterson, Jr., who is a retired attorney in Atlanta, Georgia.

The papers primarily document Peterson’s political career in Georgia and Washington, D.C. as well as his personal and business affairs in Ailey, Georgia. They include legislative research files regarding agriculture, public lands and transportation, correspondence with contemporary politicians, campaign files, correspondence from constituents, speeches and statements, photographs, and artifacts. The finding aid for the Peterson Papers is available at

Above: Rusty clips removed from the collection during processing.

Post by Renna Tuten, Project Archivist, Russell Library

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fun Facts About Turpentine

Founded in 1936 by Judge Harley Langdale of Valdosta, Georgia, The American Turpentine Farmer's Association (ATFA) was formed to represent gum naval stores' factors, producers, and dealers in the United States "turpentine belt" (comprised of Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas). ATFA greatly aided the gum naval stores industry by organizing producers to stabilize the market, improving the marketing and production of gum turpentine and its byproducts, promoting the conservation of pine forests, taking control of surplus, and initiating a loan program for ATFA members. Ultimately, ATFA worked to show that turpentining was an agricultural, not an industrial, process.

Recently the Russell Library acquired some of the meeting minutes of ATFA. In preparation for the online database, which will allow users to view and search the minutes, archivists Abby Griner and Kat Stein have been researching the history of turpentine in the South. To whet your appetite for the upcoming database, here are a few fun facts they've learned along the way about turpentine:

Georgia almost became the "Turpentine State" instead of the "Peach State" Before turpentine was sold in bottles in 1939, customers used buckets to pull it out of barrels for purchase There are two mains types of pine tree that produce turpentine in Georgia, long-leaf and slash pine

Post by Abby Griner, Access and Electronic Records Archivist, Russell Library

Friday, December 04, 2009

Informal Forum (12/11/2010): Work-Life Balance: How Do We Get Some?

The Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia (RFCLG) is hosting National Issues Forums on a monthly basis at the Russell Library. Our next informal forum will take place next Friday, December 11th from 3:00-4:30PM in the Russell Library auditorium.

The US offers some of the least generous-work-life policies of any developed nation. Is this something that needs to change? And if so, what are the ways that we, as a nation, can work towards a new balance of work and family obligations?This month's deliberative forum considers the issues surrounding work-life balance. Using the issue guide Work Life Balance: How Do We Get Some? , trained, neutral moderators Monica Pereira and Pat Priest will guide the discussion.

The event is free and open to all. More information is available by contacting Jill Severn at 706-542-5766 or emailing For more information about Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia, visit

How to Find the Russell Library: The Russell is located on the bottom floor of the Main Library building on UGA's north campus. Follow the path down the right side of the main library building (the west facing side) and down the stairs to access our door!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

1954, In Five Minutes Or Less

The recently donated M.E. Thompson Papers contain a small but precious set of films: five one-minute campaign spots from Thompson's unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1954. Having a look at these is five minutes well spent.

Thompson, who had won election as Georgia's first lieutenant governor in 1946, found himself governor in March 1947 after emerging victorious in Georgia's famed Three Governor's Controversy. Defeated by Herman Talmadge in a special election in 1948, Thompson ran unsuccessfully for a number of offices over the following years, and in 1954 attempted to regain the governorship.

The ads from his campaign ably summarize what southern gubernatorial candidates of that period believed needed to be addressed in order to get elected. As one might expect, front and center in two of the commercials is advocacy of enforced racial segregation, through the County Unit System of electoral politics and continued segregation of the schools. A dose of populism emerges through spots dedicated to auto tags and highways, which demonstrate also the growing pains Georgia was going through in the 1950s, while in "Taxes" Thompson explains why his government would be fiscally efficient. The ads give us a window into 1950s Georgia, although Thompson's candidacy could not withstand the onslaught that was Marvin Griffin. Despite his stance on segregation, Thompson was considered a liberal in that 1954 race, falling victim to the very County Unit System he vowed not to change.

County Unit:




Auto Tags:

Post by Craig Breaden, Head of Media and Oral History, Russell Library.

For more information on these films, call (706) 542-5788 or email The Russell Library is open for research Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Town Hall Online?

The Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) is an organization invested in creating a "movement to promote and institutionalize deliberative democracy at all levels of governance in the United States and around the world." Below, Matt Leighninger, Executive Director of the DDC, gives a quick overview of online deliberative town hall meetings that have taken place with Members of Congress across the country in recent months. He writes:

"A recently released report shows that Members of Congress who held a deliberative, online town hall meeting with their constituents increased their public approval ratings. The average gain was 18%. This finding stands in sharp contrast to the reception given the traditional, non-deliberative town hall meetings on health care held last summer. The report analyzed a series of 13 online town hall meetings between Members of Congress and their constituents, and the impact that participation had on the Member, the Member's constituents, and the citizen's perceptions of both their elected official and the issue being discussed. The research was conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Northeastern University, Ohio State University, and the University of California-Riverside."

For more information on these town hall meetings and the full report Leighninger mentions, visit:

A big thanks to Matt & DDC for circulating this information!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Outside the Box - December

Season's Greetings
With another Thanksgiving under our belts, and Christmas songs flooding radio stations everywhere, it seems the 2009 holiday season is officially upon us! For December’s “Outside the Box” post it seemed fitting to offer some holiday cheer with a selection of greeting cards from our political collections.

Produced by Hallmark, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official greeting card from the White House in 1953. The tradition took hold over the next seven years and has been followed by every President since. Over the years, the White House mailing list has grown exponentially. In 2008, President George W. Bush reportedly sent greetings cards to 1.4 million people!

Our collection of season’s greetings from the White House includes cards from…

President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954

President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, 1961

President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, 1967

dent and Mrs. Richard M. Nixon, 1970

President and Mrs. Ronald W. Reagan, 1983

(depicting the White House Green Room)

While Presidential greetings certainly carry a certain cache (especially when the recipient list was substantially shorter), the political collections here in the Russell Library also contain an array of cards sent to local and state leaders from constituents, friends, and family. For your viewing pleasure, a few of our favorite treasures include:

Two Christmas postcards from friends sent to Richard B. Russell, Jr. The first (below, left), mailed on Christmas Eve 1920, would have arrived just after Russell was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives at age twenty-three. The second (below, right), mailed on December 23, 1922, would have found Russell in the months before he was elected Speaker pro tempore by the state house (1923).

A groovy card sent by Robert F. Kennedy and family in 1967.

December's “Outside the Box” object will be on display in the lobby gallery of the Russell Library, open 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, until January 12th. For further information please contact or visit

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Richard B. Russell Library.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Informal Forum (11/20/2010): Coping with the Cost of Healthcare

As we announced just last week - the Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia (RFCLG) will begin hosting National Issues Forums on a monthly basis at the Russell Library. Our first informal forum will take place this coming Friday, November 20th from 3-4:30PM at the Russell Library.

This month's deliberative forum considers the issues surrounding health care reform. Using the National Issues Forums Institute's guide, Coping with the Cost of Health Care: How Do We Pay for What We Need, the group will consider several approaches to tackling this complex issue. Trained neutral moderators will guide the discussion. The event is free and open to all. More information is available by contacting Jill Severn at 706-542-5766. For more information about Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia, visit

How to Find the Russell Library: The Russell is located on the bottom floor of the Main Library building on UGA's north campus. Follow the path down the right side of the main library building (the west facing side) and down the stairs to access our door!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Georgia Project Records

During the 1990s, Dalton, Georgia’s growing carpet industry brought increasing numbers of Spanish speakers into the region and the local school system. In 1996, local attorney and former U.S. congressman Erwin Mitchell recognized the need for bilingual educators in Dalton Public Schools to teach the growing number of non-English speaking students. Mitchell and a small group of Dalton citizens founded the Georgia Project, a community based non-profit organization, to serve the academic needs of Latino and Hispanic students, their teachers, and their parents.

The Georgia Project developed an exchange program and brought qualified bilingual teaching assistants from Spanish-speaking countries to assist in Dalton Public Schools. The collection illustrates the partnership that developed between the Georgia Project, University of Monterrey in Mexico, and the City of Dalton and Whitfield County schools. Committee files, conference and meeting files, general files, and financial records document the administrative activities of the staff of the Georgia Project. Reference material including clippings, reports, and publications demonstrate the need in the community for bilingual education and teacher training. The collection includes correspondence, memoranda, notes, reports, clippings, financial records, statistical reports, publications, photographs, and audiovisual material.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the Georgia Project, Inc. Records, please contact or call (706) 542-5788.

Post by Kat Stein, Head of Arrangement and Description, Russell Library

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Forum Habit

How do you start a habit of deliberative dialogue? Like anything else, it takes practice. The Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia has just the kind of practice you need…for free!

Beginning this month, RFCLG will host one informal forum a month in the Russell Library Auditorium. Each forum will take place on a Friday afternoon from 3:00-4:30PM and will take on topics using the National Issues Forums guide books. The gatherings will be low key, learning experiences.

And the moderators will be...
The informal forum series is a chance for newly trained moderators, those who attended our Public Policy Institute this fall, to try their hand at moderating the discussion. That means the moderators will be people from the Athens area who are invested in civic engagement and ready to test their skills. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about training opportunities, email for more information!

Without further ado…
The schedule of forum dates and topics is as follows:

Friday, November 20, 2009, 3:00-5:00PM

Issue Guide: Coping with the Cost of Healthcare: How Can Wey Pay for What We Need?
Location: Russell Library Auditorium

Friday, December 11, 2009, 3:00-5:00PM
Issue Guide: Work-Life Balance: How Do We Get Some?
Location: Russell Library Auditorium

Friday, January 15, 2010, 3:00-5:00PM
Issue Guide: The New Challenges of American Immigration: What Should We Do?
Location: Russell Library Auditorium

Friday, February 19, 2010, 3:00-5:00PM
Issue Guide: The New Science of Food: Facing Up to Our Biotechnology Choices
Location: Russell Library Auditorium

Friday, March 19, 2010, 3:00-5:00PM
Issue Guide: Weighing the Options: How Can We Encourage Healthy Weights among America's Youth?
Location: Russell Library Auditorium

Friday, April 16, 2010, 3:00-5:00PM
Issue Guide: TBD
Location: Russell Library Auditorium

Friday, May 21, 2010, 3:00-5:00PM
Issue Guide: TBD
Location: Russell Library Auditorium

So mark your calendars! The Russell Library (and its auditorium space!) are located at the west entrance to the Main Library building on UGA's north campus. If you need further directions, or have questions or comments about the upcoming forums, email or call (706) 542-5788. For more information on the National Issues Forums, visit

Monday, November 09, 2009

Outside the Box

Object: Meritorious Award, 1976

Collection: M.E. Thompson Personal Papers

Melvin Ernest Thompson was born in Millen, Georgia in 1903. He graduated from Emory University in 1926 and married his high school sweetheart, Ann Newton. Thompson embarked on a career in education, taking on a series of administrative positions in the Hawkinsville School District before assuming the roles of state school supervisor and state school superintendent in the Georgia Department of Education (1933-1942).

Thompson is perhaps best known for his role in the "three governor’s controversy" (1946-47), in which three men vied for the office upon the death of Governor-elect Eugene Talmadge, and Thompson was eventually declared the victor by the state supreme court. But beyond the controversy, Thompson was a man of many achievements. During his brief tenure as Governor (1946-48) he increased state spending without new taxes, raised teachers’ salaries, and expanded the roads and bridges building program. Personally, he considered his greatest accomplishment to have been the state’s purchase of Jekyll Island.

After leaving the office of Governor, Thompson ran several unsuccessful campaigns for elected office before retiring from politics and opening a real estate business in Valdosta, Georgia. He served his community through leadership roles in various civic, business, and church organizations before his death in 1980.

The purchase of Jekyll Island…

At the turn of the twentieth century Jekyll Island, the smallest of Georgia’s barrier islands, was purchased by two northern entrepreneurs. The pair established an elite club on the island and wealthy members, mostly northern industrialists, were invited to build winter cottages on the land. The Great Depression and World War II caused financial difficulties and labor shortages for the venture, forcing the club to close in 1942. In 1946 M.E. Thompson, Georgia’s revenue commissioner, became interested in acquiring the property for the state and opening it as a state park. After becoming governor in 1947, Thompson’s administration facilitated the purchase of Jekyll Island for $675,000.

In the decades that followed his gubernatorial term, Thompson received much acclaim for the Jekyll Island project. In 1976 Georgia’s Association of County Commissioners recognized Thompson for sponsoring the purchase of Jekyll Island and awarded him their Meritorious Award. In 1989, the State Transportation Board posthumously recognized Thompson’s “vision and persistence” in acquiring Jekyll Island for the people of Georgia and dedicated the M.E. Thompson Memorial Bridge.

November's “Outside the Box” object will be on display in the lobby gallery of the Russell Library, open 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, until December 1st. For further information on the M.E. Thompson Personal Papers , please contact or visit

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Monday, October 12, 2009

Forum Report: Coping with the Cost of Healthcare

Against a backdrop of fractious town hall meetings across the US on health care -- where guns, shoving, shouting, and fury overwhelmed clear discussion and understanding of the issues on more than one occasion -- two groups of diverse citizens gathered in Tifton, Georgia to deliberate a range of approaches to tackling the problems of the current health care system with great vigor and civility.

The two forums took place on the evening of September 29, 2009 and the afternoon of Septemebr 30th on the campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC). The events were co-sponsored by the Democratic and Republican Parties of Tift County, ABAC’s Political Science Club and Young Democrats, and the Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia. This wide range of partners helped to make the forums diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, political ideology, economic status, and -- particularly relevant for the topic of the forum -- health insurance status. This range of experience and views enriched the discussion tremendously!

Using the NIF issue guide “Coping with the Cost of Health Care: How Can We Pay for What We Need?” both forums covered the same basic territory. But the diversity of participants at each forum brought rich new perspectives to the issue. The approaches considered were:

Approach 1: Reduce the Threat of Financial Ruin
Require that all citizens have a minimum amount of health insurance which is affordable.

Approach 2: Restrain Out of Control Costs
The price of coverage and the tactics of insurance companies need to be regulated.

Approach 3: Provide Coverage as a Right
To be a healthy and happy society, we need to make sure everyone has health care, in the same way they have access to public education.

At the first forum on Tuesday evening, moderated by Margaret Holt and Jill Severn, participants began by confronting a simple question; what were people in Tifton saying about health care? The comments from many expressed a feeling of frustration in dealing with a health care system that is “broken.” Younger participants expressed concern over the mounting national debt that future generations will inherit, should the government take on a state-funded health care system. Others expressed fear that congress was acting too quickly without all the information, and a frustration that the term “reform” was too broad – what exactly are legislators addressing with this term? Insurance companies and spiraling costs? Access to health care? Everyone present had a clear stake in the issue at hand.

In discussing Approach 1, the first concern raised by several in the group was that such a proposal would include paying for the health care of non-citizens living in the U.S. After some discussion, one participant noted that because the uninsured most often seek emergency care rather than primary care – we are all already paying for their health care. If individuals were responsible for purchasing minimum coverage, the burden could be lighter for everyone. Other concerns about this approach were its impact on small business owners (if they were required to offer coverage to employees) and what coverage-for-all would do to the quality of health care. The group seemed to reach a stalemate when considering health insurance being tied to employment: they agreed it was a tenable system, evidenced lately by the consequences of high unemployment rates across the country. At the same time, they found it difficult to imagine another alternative without allowing the federal government to play a larger role in the health care business – an idea which made many in the group nervous.

The entire group seemed to favor the ideas in Approach 2, which suggested that the key to lowering the cost of health care is to implement some additional regulation of drug companies and insurance providers. One man recognized that “there is a disconnect between ‘sticker’ price and negotiated rates… insurance companies are making huge profits and they give misinformation and make bills hard to understand.” At the same time, many did not want to point the finger at health care providers – recognizing that doctors are often at the mercy of their malpractice insurance rates.

Approach 3 brought out mixed feelings from the group. While there was a general feeling that we should all try to look after one another, the concept of making health care a guaranteed right – like the right to education or other public resources (fire department, police department, etc.) made people nervous. Several people in the group said that making it a right ignores personal responsibility and that it would open up the floodgates (Is care insurance a right? Is life insurance?). Proponents of this approach recognized that the government already certifies health care in many ways – administering certification for nurses, doctors, and hospitals – and seemed more willing to give universal health care a chance. Further, that other developed countries offer universal health care and have overall better health outcomes than those in the United States.

At our second forum, held Wednesday afternoon and moderated by Jill Severn and Jan Levinson, participants expressed many of the same hopes and concerns heard the night before. They echoed the frustrations of the first group -- that congress is moving too quickly and without explanation. They too were confused about where the costs of health care come from, what “reform” meant, and what exactly about the system is broken. In discussing Approaches 1 and 2, many of the same issues came up. This group strongly disagreed with health insurance being tied to employment and spent time debating what “minimum coverage” could/should mean. They recognized the spiraling costs and found great fault with insurance providers and drug companies, and pondered how to create competition and innovation without rising prices. This group spent more time pondering the systems of other countries, particularly those in France and Germany, and weighing the benefit of health care for all with sharp increases in taxes. Also, they tapped into the idea that preventative care was not addressed in any of the approaches – indicating that there is no real incentive for Americans to be healthy.

Participants in this gathering truly seemed to span the spectrum of health care – and this variety of personal experience guided much of the discussion, particularly in discussing health care as a right in Approach 3. This group was divided as to whether or not all citizens are responsible for one another. Several were staunch supporters of individual responsibility and personal choice – saying that those without health care have made choices leading to that outcome. Others, were just as adamant that universal health care is an investment in overall well-being of all Americans and that we have a responsibility to look after our fellow man. And if that means government intervention, then so be it. This group seemed less concerned with the language of the approach – and spent more time exploring the philosophy of universal health care rather than its implications in our constitution or the expansion of government intervention.

Participants at both forums also spent time discussing the value of civil deliberation and the importance of establishing ground rules for discussion. They were all justifiably proud that they had shared strong perspectives, disagreed with one another, and found some areas of common ground without resorting to the disruptive and ultimately frustrating types of talk at many of the town hall meetings around the country. Our experience in Tifton was as affirming as ever – demonstrating that people are thinking about the health care issue and are willing to work together to move forward.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Exhibit Opening Today!

Join us today, October 8th, between 3:00-6:00 PM for the informal opening and reception of two new exhibits at the Russell Library: Measuring Deliberate Speed: Georgians Face School Desegregation and With All Deliberate Speed: The AP in Little Rock.

More on these exhibits...

Measuring Deliberate Speed: Georgians Face School Desegregation is the culmination of a year of research and planning by staff at the Russell Library. The exhibit was created to showcase materials from the collections that illuminate and explain the tactics, rhetoric, and reactions of Georgians to federal school desegregation mandates. Using text panels, artifacts, and selected audio and film clips, the display examines the landmark federal and state legal decisions that led to the desegregation of public schools in Georgia between 1950 and 1961.

With All Deliberate Speed: The AP in Little Rock, created by the Associated Press Corporate Archives, serves as a companion exhibit that explores how the news agency prepared for and covered Little Rock and its reverberations throughout the South. The AP had never faced a more difficult test of its mission to serve all members equally with objective, timely reporting than it did covering desegregation in Little Rock. Using news clippings, photographs, and correspondence, this exhibit captures a moment in time and demonstrates the legacy this event created for journalists everywhere.

The opening event is free and open to all; light refreshments will be served. Exhibit curators Jill Severn and Jan Levinson will be on hand to answer questions and provide tours of the gallery upon request. For additional information on these exhibits, please visit, The Russell Library is located on the West side of the Main Library on the University of Georgia campus. For directions and parking information, please visit or call 706-542-5788.

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library