Wednesday, May 01, 2013

New Exhibit, Now and Then: 1973

There are some moments in history that become powerful touchstones, revisited to reflect and inform a better understanding of the present day. Now and Then: 1973, the Richard B. Russell Library’s latest feature exhibit, looks back at a pivotal year in modern American history and considers the impact of events that filled the public mind for a moment in time. The exhibition explores the interactions of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government – how the decisions made by each conflicted with one another, and with public opinion, in choosing a path for the United States. 

1973 was the year of the Roe v. Wade decision and the return of POWs from the war in Vietnam. It was the year President Richard Nixon proclaimed he was not a crook, even as the Watergate scandal unfolded on national television. It was the year of the Yom Kippur War, the Arab oil embargo, the launch of Skylab, and passage of the Endangered Species Act. Forty years later, history reveals 1973 to be a pivotal year in American history with a lasting legacy.

“We originally considered an exhibit focused exclusively on the anniversary of the Watergate scandal,” said outreach archivist Jan Levinson, “but after some preliminary research found that there were so many big events happening in 1973 that touched on our key collecting areas, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a look a multiple events.”

Both Levinson, who curated the exhibit, and her colleague Jill Severn, Russell Library’s Head of Access and Outreach, saw that the events of 1973 shared easy connections with current events and issues that Americans are struggling with today. “In creating the text and selecting objects from our collections, we tried to highlight the connections between past and present, as well as to prompt visitors to consider the interactions of various branches of government in dealing with public issues,” said Levinson.

The Russell outreach team will spend this summer planning an exciting slate of public programs scheduled for fall 2013, that complement the key themes and topics of the exhibit. In the coming weeks they hope to launch an interactive appeal to the public, soliciting photographs from 1973 for display in the gallery and on the Russell Library blog (     

The exhibit will remain on display in the Harrison Feature Gallery of the Russell Library Gallery through December 15, 2013. The galleries of the Special Collections Building are open from 8am-5pm Monday through Friday and 1-5pm on Saturdays; admission is free. For more information contact Jan Levinson at or by calling 706-542-5788. To schedule a tour of the Special Collections Libraries Galleries, contact Jean Cleveland at or by calling 706-542-8079.