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