Monday, July 22, 2013

Heidi Davison Papers Now Open!

The Heidi Davison Papers are now open and offer a wealth of information for the researcher interested in local and state politics and government. The papers document the two terms of Athens Mayor Heidi Davison, who served the city from 2003 until 2011.

Davison came to Athens in 1973 and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1975 with a B.S. in Education. She taught Language Arts in area schools and worked on numerous local and community associations. Throughout the 1990s she served on Athens-Clarke County committees and boards related to environmental initiatives, arts foundations, and education projects.

Mayor Davison fundraising at a UGA Arch Foundation event
Mayor Davison’s papers reflect her personal commitment to promoting political and civic awareness. The papers demonstrate the daily functions of a robust local government and a mayor that guided a growing city of over 115,00 people. The collection documents the activities of the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government  as they worked with the mayor and created new initiatives and carried on day to day business of the city.

The papers cover some controversial decisions from her tenure in office as well. Materials related to the heated fight over a 2003 ordinance that would have required renters to register with the county show how local opinion affected the decisions of local government. The issue gained statewide attention and prompted a last-minute bill signed by Governor Sonny Perdue that effectively banned rental registration laws. The papers also include records about another controversial ordinance: the partial smoking ban of 2004 that eased the Athens downtown bars into a full smoking ban in 2005. Other highlights include environmental issues, development and regional plans, and zoning controversies related to Athens-Clarke County area.

Heidi Davison’s papers document the unique and important business of running Athens-Clarke County Unified Government and provide research value in the broader subject areas of Georgia politics and women in politics. The papers share interesting connections with other Russell Library collections. For instance, Davison ran the political campaign for Louise McBee’s initial bid for the Georgia House of Representatives in 1991. The M. Louise McBee Papers include materials related to her terms in office as a Georgia state legislator from 1991-2004. Davison was also an active member of the Athens League of Women Voters, a group dedicated to women’s participation in politics. The Athens League of Women Voters Records show the range of political activities of the organization from 1940-2006.

The Heidi Davison Papers contain nearly a decade of dynamic Athens history concerning political and civic topics of debate for the region. This is the first donation of papers from an Athens mayor to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and is an important collection documenting the many connections between the University of Georgia and the city of Athens.

Post by Angelica Marini, Processing Intern, Russell Library

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