Thursday, April 17, 2014

Choosing to Participate Exhibit Opens May 2nd

A new exhibit intended to inspire people of all ages to create positive social change, Choosing to Participate, opens May 2, 2014 at the Richard B. Russell Library Gallery on the University of Georgia campus.

A set of 11 graphically compelling posters developed by The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the educational organization Facing History and Ourselves serves as the core of the exhibit. The graphics present the experiences of individuals and communities, explore the impact of cultural differences, and encourage viewers to consider the consequences of everyday choices—to discover how “little things are big”—and to make a difference in their own communities. A companion website features a host of resources for teachers, families, and communities: 

Using the poster set as a framework, Russell Library student worker Sarah Hughes, a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs, acted as curator and selected items from the Russell Library's archival holdings to highlight topics, events, and people that tie into the larger themes explored in the graphic panels. The combination of the graphics and primary resources is intended to encourage dialogue, engagement, respect, and participation among visitors. Choosing to Participate will remain on display at the Russell Library through August 30.

The poster set is being distributed at no cost to schools, libraries, museums, and community organizations through partnerships including Teaching Tolerance, Boys & Girls Club of America and the American Library Association. Special thanks to the Walmart Foundation, the national Sponsor of Choosing to Participate. Support for distribution to Teaching Tolerance made possible by the Malka Fund.

The Russell Library gallery is free and open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. For more information on the exhibit, email or call 706-542-5788.

Want a quick overview of the exhibit? Check out this introduction from our student curator, Sarah Hughes: 

Want a behind the scenes tour of the exhibit? Check out our interview clips with Sarah Hughes on her role as student curator and choices for the display on the Russell Library's SoundCloud page. Or use the QR code below!

Media and American Civil Liberties: A Multimedia Event @ Russell Library

What: "Media and American Civil Liberties: Moments in Time"
When: Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 12-3 p.m.
Where: Room 271 Russell Special Collections Libraries Building  

Students enrolled in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication course "History of Mass Media in the United States" will present their semester-long projects from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Libraries. The event is open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Working in groups, students have studied eight moments in history when American liberties were either strengthened or diminished, and their reports will highlight media involvement in those important historical moments.

This project grew out of a University of Georgia Center for Teaching and Learning "Faculty Learning Community," and has been done in collaboration with the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries, including Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library; Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies; and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection. Students have worked with Professor Janice Hume, and Archivists Jill Severn, Mary Miller, and Charles Barber.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting the Party Started: Processing the Records of Georgia's Political Parties

Note: In February of this year, the Russell Library embarked on a one-year project to process the records of the Democratic Party of Georgia (Georgia Democrats) and the Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP), funded by a generous grant of up to $58,777 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Because the records will not be open for research for several months, project archivist Angelica Marini will be providing a series of short articles throughout the year highlighting various aspects of the records as she works to organize, describe and make them available. In this, her first blog post for the project, she underscores the value of the Georgia Republican Party Records as an important resource for studying the historic political realignment of the state in the second half of the twentieth century.

A small sampling of the GAGOP records awaiting processing.

Once available for research, the Georgia Republican Party Records will be one of the largest processed collections of official state Republican Party records in the country and the largest in the Southeast. Complementing the University of South Carolina’s Republican Party of South Carolina Papers and Auburn University’s Alabama Republican Party Records, the Georgia Republican Party Records, dating from 1975 to 1998, are a unique collection of administrative records, political files, financial and fundraising materials, and campaign files that will enable researchers to gain new insights into the dramatic political realignment of the South in the twentieth century.

In 1960 there were only two Republican members of the State House and just one Republican State Senator in Georgia. The Georgia Republican Party was politically weak and the state was dominated by the Democratic Party of Georgia. It was not until later in the second half of the twentieth century that Georgia was a truly modern two-party political system. The records reflect this historical development of the party as the bulk of materials date from the later period. While the Republican Party collections in South Carolina and Alabama contain materials from the 1920s, most of the materials date from this modern period, 1960 to 2000. The bulk of the South Carolina Republican Party records date from 1962 to 2001 and the records of the Alabama Republican Party date from 1960 to 1994. Likewise the Georgia Republican Party saw their most significant gains after 1980 and the bulk of the materials date from 1980 to 1996.

What kept the Georgia Republican party from power for so long? The explanation requires a look at the political history of the South. An alleged political deal between Democrats and Republicans in 1877 brokered the end of Reconstruction. The contested presidential election resulted in a compromise between the parties that allowed for Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes to be seated in return for the end of federal military intervention in the South. Over the next twenty-five years, all across the South, the Republican Party lost what limited power they held during Reconstruction. The historical legacy of Reconstruction affected the political growth of the Republican Party far beyond the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, though, as the Democratic Party dominated Southern politics until the 1960s.

The national Democratic Party started to change in the 1960s and broadly supported civil rights legislation and aligned with more liberal policies. The changes in national party platforms alienated conservative Southern Democrats and by the 1970s many Southern states were in the process of moving to a Republican majority. In Georgia, this regional political realignment was influenced additionally by migration to the state. Beginning in the 1950s, state politicians and policies promoted Georgia as a friendly place for business. Republicans increased their favor as they promoted themselves as the political party that stood for business interests. Georgia Republicans also recruited party members from transplanted Northern Republicans. The first Republican since Reconstruction to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate, Mack Mattingly (originally from Indiana), noted that “What they [the Democratic Party] didn’t understand back then were what we call ‘demographics.’ They did not understand that the demographics of Georgia had changed – your IBMers from Indiana, you know, everybody from all different places – it had changed.” (Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 014 Mack Mattingly) These changes made a real difference in the political strength of the Republican Party in Georgia. By 1997, the Republicans elected 79 members to the State House and 22 members to the State Senate. The last decades of the twentieth century saw the Republican Party become a major political power in the state and in 2002, Georgians elected their first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue.

The bulk of the Georgia Republican Party Records date from a period of substantial political growth for the party. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Republican Party emerged as a powerful political opponent to the Democrats. The records document the party’s administration by Party Chairmen and Executive Directors. Political files include research materials maintained by the political directors, state convention materials, and county and district files. Financial records reflect the growth of the party through fundraising and events. The campaign records contain strategic planning documents and statistical analysis of election results using the ORVIS program (Optimal Republican Voting Strength) adopted in the 1980s. These records are an invaluable source of information for anyone interested in researching the growth of the Georgia Republican Party during an important transitional period.

Post by Angelica Marini, Project Archivist, Russell Library

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Happy 225th Birthday, Congress!

The Russell Library joins its Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC) partner institutions across the nation to celebrate this landmark birthday during Congress Week 2014—April 1-7 with a week-long Twitter Fest focused on the forty-seven members of the U.S.  Congress and Senate representing Georgia who have placed their papers with the Russell Library.  The Twitter series is curated by Russell Library student assistants Sarah Hughes and Patrick Klibanoff and presents key moments from the careers of these Georgians.

The central goal of Congress Week is to foster the study of the United States House and Senate, and to promote a wider appreciation for the vital role the legislative branch plays in our representative democracy. Our celebration lauds its survival and its level of success over 225 years in finding ways to make representative democracy work.

Actually, the birth of Congress was not a single day event but a process of deliberation in the Federal Convention that met in the spring and summer of 1787. The Constitution provided for Congress to convene on March 4, 1789, and on that date, in New York City, the first meeting place of Congress, cannons fired and church bells rang to announce Congress's birth.

But only a few members had arrived on that date. Weeks passed before the House achieved its first quorum on April 1, with the Senate following five days later on April 6. Some members worried that the government would fail before it began. Fisher Ames of Massachusetts a member of the House, wrote "We lose credit, spirit, everything. The public will forget the government before it is born."

The fact that the House achieved its first quorum on April 1 was not lost on members then and will probably not be ignored today when we note that the first quorum was achieved on April Fool's Day. We could use a little humor as we contemplate the serious role Congress has played in shaping the long-range success of a mighty nation, whose Capitol is a symbol of freedom throughout the world.

In 2003, ACSC was founded as an independent alliance of institutions and organizations that support a wide range of programs designed to inform and educate students, scholars, policy-makers, and members of the general public on the history of Congress, legislative process, and current issues facing the United States Congress. ACSC encourages the preservation of material that documents the work of Congress, including the papers of representatives and senators, and supports programs that make those materials available for educational and research use.  The association also welcomes the participation of institutions and individuals committed to our goal of promoting a better understanding of Congress.

To experience the Georgians in Congress Twitter Fest, follow the Russell Library on Twitter: @RussellLibrary.  To find other congressional centers celebrating Congress Week on Twitter, search for the hashtag #CongressWeek