Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reflections on Senator Russell

We recently hosted a presentation by former Russell Foundation chair Charles E. Campbell on his book, Senator Richard B. Russell and My Career as a Trial Lawyer: An Autobiography.  Campbell joined Senator Russell’s staff in 1965 and served first as legislative aide and then as executive secretary to the senator. After Russell’s death, Campbell finished his law degree and returned to Georgia, where he became a successful trial lawyer.

Many Russell family members were in the audience for the event, prompting Russell Library Director Sheryl Vogt to note that the event was “almost like a reunion.” In his presentation, Campbell focused on Russell’s lasting legacy as Georgia’s longest-serving senator. He described the evolution of Russell’s relationship with Lyndon B. Johnson, first as a fellow senator and then as president of the United States. Campbell also described Russell’s relationship with Ms. Pat Collins. Campbell worked very closely with the senator in the years just before his death, and he fondly remembered Russell’s integrity, independence, thriftiness, and dedication to his work in the senate. While completing research for the book, Campbell spent many hours in the Russell reading room, and our staff was happy to be able to host this event showcasing the fruits of his labor.

A recording of the book talk is available on YouTube:

Post by Callie Holmes, Oral History and Media Archivist, Russell Library

Monday, October 21, 2013

Farewell to Bill Hardman, Tourism Pioneer

The Russell Library staff was sad to learn of the passing of Bill Hardman, interviewed for our Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series just a few month ago. The following text is adapted from his obituary.

Hardman was Georgia’s first tourism director, the first president of the Southern Travel Directors’ Council (now Travel South USA), chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America (now U.S. Travel Association), a key player in development of the Georgia World Congress Center and the architect of the Southeast Tourism Society (STS).

Born June 5, 1926, in Colbert, Ga., he served in the U.S. Merchant Marines in World War II and attended Piedmont College and Mercer University. In 1959, Georgia Governor Ernest Vandiver appointed him as the state's first tourism director.

When Hardman took on the position Georgia was largely a pass-through state for Florida-bound vacationers then. During his tenure as state tourism director, he built the state’s first eight welcome centers, launched a tourism advertising program, conducted the nation’s first Governor’s Conference on Tourism and promoted Georgia throughout the U.S. and in Canada and Europe. He left state government in 1970 and founded Hardman Productions, which conducted travel and RV trade shows and other events.

Hardman was hired in the early 1970s to lobby the Georgia legislature to appropriate $30 million to build the Georgia World Congress Center and to place it in Atlanta. Many legislators wanted the facility in other cities. Hardman’s service on the national stage included being chairman of the Travel Association of America, now U.S. Travel Association, and having the longest tenure on that association’s board of any member, more than 40 years. In 1983, Hardman was at the center of creation of the Southeast Tourism Society, which started with seven states and has grown to 12.

Our thoughts go out to members of Bill Hardman's family and friends. The Russell Library staff feels lucky to have met Mr. Hardman and learn about his career in Georgia tourism.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dispatches from the Field

Last week, Christian and I traveled to Glynn County, on the coast of Georgia, to collect interviews for a new oral history project we’ve started: The Georgia Environmental Oral History Project. Based on a partnership with Betsy Bean (a native of Glynn County), the goal of the project is to document the forces that have shaped and are currently shaping the Georgia landscape, including such topics as:

-          environmental activism (with a focus on grassroots activism)
-          the development of legislation related to environmental issues
-          the environmental history of the Georgia coast
-          the interplay between conservation, industry, and tourism
-          the politics of "sustainability"
-          the relationship between environmental issues and public safety

While ultimately we’d like to collect interviews from across the state, we decided to start in Glynn County. With numerous Superfund sites, the development issues surrounding St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, and the challenges of protecting coastal marshlands, Glynn County is an example of the variety of environmental issues Georgia has and continues to face.

We returned to Athens after a two-day recording spree with eight fantastic oral histories to inaugurate the project. Our hosts in Brunswick, the College of Coastal Georgia, couldn’t have been more helpful and accommodating (Thanks, Cary!). Our goal is to collect a variety of viewpoints on environmental topics, and we feel we got off to a great start with these first interviews. We have a long list of names of people we’d still like to talk to, and we’re hoping to be able to plan another trip to Brunswick, perhaps in early 2014, to do some more collecting. While we’re still in the midst of processing these recordings to make them available online and write a finding aid for the collection, here are a few brief clips to introduce you to our first round of interviewees.

Post by Callie Holmes, Oral History and Media Archivist, Russell Library

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Happy Electronics Records Day!

Today, October 10, is a day set aside by the Council of State Archivists to raise awareness of the importance and challenges of keeping electronic records (computer files) usable into the future. Case in point: this 8" floppy disk (see photo to the left) that I found in the George W. (Buddy) Darden Papers. With storage space of about 80 KB, you can fit the data from over 400,000 of these disks on a $20 flash drive (32 GB). But it was a major advancement in storage space when it came on the market in 1971, storing the information from about 3,000 punch cards, the storage medium of the day. And not only that, but it represented a revolutionary shift in computer use. No longer did a computer user have to have coding skills and write her own programs. You could buy a disk, put it in your computer, and have it work - the ability to sell software was born.

All of this to show that computer storage technology changes rapidly, which likely comes as no surprise. Why does this matter? Because people store their important files on removable media like floppy disks or flash drives and tuck them into a drawer for safekeeping. But the fact is these disks and drives are not really safe. Years later, when they come to the archives, or maybe when you want to show your grandchildren photographs from your trip to Europe way back in 2013, these storage devices will be the equivalent of what 8" floppy disks are today and you might not be able to get the data back.

As an electronic records archivist, I have been gathering hardware to allow me to read the most common older technology that we have received, including 3.5" and 5.25" floppy disks. But right now we don't have a way to recover the files saved on the disk pictured here. Fortunately, from the disk labels we are reasonably confident that we have paper copies with similar information. If we knew the disks contained something unique, we'd have to look for a company to recover the data for us. When it comes to saving electronic records, you have to prioritize.

Interested in learning more? Read about the history of floppy disks and how they changed computer technology forever at The History of the Floppy Disk. Or if you are now concerned about your personal computer files, try the Library of Congress's website or the NSLA Personal Digital Archive Toolkit.

Post by Adriane Hanson, Processing and Electronic Records Archivist, Russell Library