Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Speaker Spotlight: Ashton Ellett

Ashton Ellett, PhD candidate at the University of Georgia and former exhibit intern at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, will be speaking at our Scholars & Policymakers Symposium today at 9:00a.m. on the Politics of Public Good panel session. Ellett received his bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from Westminster College in 2008 and his master’s in United States History from the University of Georgia in 2010. He is currently working on his dissertation at UGA.

Ellett’s areas of interest in research and teaching include African American history, business & Capitalism, Conservatism, political & legal study, 19th & 20th century United States, the American South, War & Diplomacy, and Georgia History. His master’s thesis, “Organizing the Right: Service Clubs, Conservatism, and the Origins of the Two-Party South in Cobb County, Georgia, 1942-1968,” and his in-progress dissertation, "Recasting Conservatism: Georgia Republicans and the Transformation of Southern Politics since World War II," both focus on the changing Republican Party in Georgia.

While at Westminster College, Ellett served as the Young Democrats president as well as the editor-in-chief of the Alati Political Magazine. He graduated summa cum laude with a minor in English before coming to the University of Georgia. Ellett is a member of the American Historical Association (AHA), the Georgia Association of Historians (GAH), the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA), and several other organizations devoted to politics and history. Ellet’s talk at the symposium will highlight his research focused on the history of the National School Lunch program for the exhibit “Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch” now on display through May 15, 2015 in the Russell Library Gallery. The exhibit examines the complicated history of the NSLP with a focus on people and events in Georgia. Ellet co-wrote the script and helped to adapt it for use as a featured special collection on the New Georgia Encyclopedia (forthcoming, spring 2015).

He has won two awards for his work as a teaching assistant, and his piece from 2013 was published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly. He is currently researching for the Georgia Department of Transportation to help organize their centennial celebration.

Come hear Ashton Ellett along with a host of other great speakers at the Scholars & Policymakers Symposium happening today from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries. All sessions are free and open to the public!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Speaker Spotlight: Chris Manganiello

Dr. Chris Manganiello, another one of our featured speakers for the upcoming Scholars & Policymakers Symposium Oct. 27-28, currently serves as Policy Director of the Georgia River Network in Athens, Georgia. In this role Manganiello analyzes government policy and controls, implements communications for the GRN, and organizes fundraising and events. He received his Ph.D. with honors from the University of Georgia. His dissertation, “Dam Crazy with Wild Consequences: Artificial Lakes and Natural Rivers in the American South, 1845-1990,” was awarded the Rachel Carson Prize by the American Society for Environmental History.

Manganiello has written and edited a number of academic publications including “Hitching the New South to White Coal: Water and Power, 1890-1933” for the Journal of Southern History and Environmental History and the American South: A Reader, which he edited with Paul S. Sutter. His other publications include “The Flint River: A Sun Belt River and the Burden of History,” and his contributions to the blog Georgia Water Wire, which details water-related news and policies.

After noticing that there were few written histories of the water resources in the southeastern region of the United States, Manganiello began working on a new book project, titled "Southern Water, Southern Power: How the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water Scarcity Shaped a Region." Noticing that all of the lakes in the southern Blue Ridge and Piedmont were man-made, he began to investigate who created these artificial water sources. This in-progress book focuses on the manipulation of the environment to make cheap sources of energy and how this affects social power.

Manganiello has presented at a number of academic conference panels and presentations concerning regional environmental issues, focusing specifically on concerns of urban drought, river valley wildlife management, and southern waterscapes and lakes. He was awarded the Smithsonian Institution Pre-Doctoral Fellowship by the National Museum of American History for 2008-2009. He was also one of four students at the University of Georgia to receive the Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award in 2011. He is a member of the American Society for Environmental History and the Southern Historical Association.

Don’t miss Dr. Chris Manganiello’s appearance on the Politics of Environment panel discussion, happening at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 28. We hope to see you at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries for the Scholars & Policymakers Symposium next week. And stay tuned to the blog for more speaker spotlights as the 40th anniversary celebrations approach!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Speaker Spotlight: Michelle Brattain

Dr. Michelle Brattain, Associate Chair in the Department of History at Georgia State University, is one of our featured speakers for the Scholars & Policymakers Symposium happening Oct. 27-28, 2014 -- just one week away! Brattain received her bachelor’s degree in United States and women’s history from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and went on to receive her PhD in United States History from Rutgers University. Her research and teaching specialties include modern United States history, the history of ideas about race, Southern history, and the history of labor. She now teaches undergraduate courses on United States history in the 20th century and the history of race and human variation at Georgia State University.

Brattain remains very involved in the writing community both as a writer herself and as a part of the editorial boards for Americana and the Journal of Southern History. She previously worked as an editor for Atlanta History for six years until she moved to the Journal of Southern History’s board in 2007. She has been an editorial board member for Americana for over a decade. In addition to reviewing dozens of books, she has published many works herself. Her recent pieces include “Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism: UNESCO and the Politics of Presenting Race to the Postwar Public” and “Miscegenation and Competing Definitions of Race in Twentieth-Century Louisiana,” along with a handful of others.

Her 2001 book The Politics of Whiteness: Race, Workers, and Culture in the Modern South examines race, specifically in the textile industry in Rome, Georgia from the 1930s to the 1970s. It discusses the relationship between race and class during most of the 20th century. Her thorough research for this book helps to paint the picture of white supremacy in textile mills that ultimately shaped Southern politics. Brattain is currently working on a manuscript titled "What Race Was: Popular and Scientific Constructions of Race in the Postwar United States."

In 2002, she received the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award for the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University. She was named an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Library Resident Fellow by the American Philosophical Society in July of 2003. She has also received multiple grants and awards for her research through Georgia State University.

Dr. Michelle Brattain will speak as part of the Politics of Social Relations panel at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, October 28. We hope you will join us for this and other discussions at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries. Be on the lookout for more Speaker Spotlights on our blog as we get geared up for the symposium next week!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Speaker Spotlight: Jason Sokol

Dr. Jason Sokol, Assistant Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire and author of There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, will be one of our featured scholars at the Scholars & Policymakers Symposium October 27th-28th. Sokol received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College followed by his master’s and PhD in history from the University of California at Berkeley. He specializes in American politics, race, and civil rights, and conducts research on similar topics including 20th century U.S. history, the Civil Rights Movement, and political & African American history. Sokol is currently teaching courses in history and race relations at the University of New Hampshire.

His first book, There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, studies the full narrative of the Civil Rights Movement by taking white southerner’s experiences into account as well. Sokol combed through newspapers, oral histories, news archives, and other publications to find personal accounts for his book. It depicts the white southerners’ attitudes and actions during the time in their own words, and sheds light on a viewpoint otherwise overlooked. There Goes My Everything was named one of the 10 best books of 2006 by Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post Book World and won the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award. Sokol’s second book, All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn will be published in December of this year.

In addition to his two books, Sokol boasts a variety of other accomplishments and accolades. His writing pieces have appeared in a number of publications including the Journal of American History, the Journal of Southern History, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and more. He has received fellowships from Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University. Sokol is also the recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Teaching Excellence.

Come hear Dr. Jason Sokol at the Scholars & Policymakers Symposium happening Oct. 27-28, 2014 at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries. Be on the lookout for more Speaker Spotlights on our blog as we get closer to the October symposium!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Let’s Get Digital!: Electronic Records Day 2014

Today we celebrate the third annual Electronic Records Day brought to you by the Council of State Archivists with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of electronic records and issues related to preservation and access.  Electronic records are "born digital,” files produced in a computer environment. Yesterday's boxes of papers are today's e-mail, websites, databases, and word processing documents. And to ensure a record of the 21st century, those computer files need to last well into the future, along with the paper.

Archivists have already started the process of creating best practices for archival preservation and access of digital archives. The collections we receive at the Russell Library include a lot of paper, however, in the last five years alone, 25% of donations have included some computer files. Even more compelling is that all new collections this year have had a significant digital component. The myth of the "paperless office" has been largely debunked or at least questioned  (see Digital Trends, BBC, New York Times, Book) and that can lull us into a false sense of security. Because while there is still a lot of paper around, which can be collected, preserved, and made accessible through well-understood archival practices, some very important things are only being produced in digital form. There may be no such thing as a paperless office, but most offices are definitely hybrids of computer files and paper.

Take the records of the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG), for example. As part of an NHPRC-funded project to process the records of Georgia’s two political parties, the Russell Library has been working to address the preservation and access needs of this hybrid collection. The records date from 1962 to 2007, but its paper records essentially stop around 1990. Scattered materials related to campaigns can be found in the paper records; financial disclosures, form filing records in county and district materials. But individual campaigns are not documented in the paper records. The DPG’s electronic records, however, contain some of the most comprehensive campaign and election materials in the collection. Over fifteen individual campaigns from 2000 are documented in the electronic records. These materials include campaign mailers, campaign budgets, correspondence between the political director and candidates, strategy memos, and more.

Some of these materials were never created to be printed or used in paper form. For example, photographs of DPG events and survey data collected about voters were produced and used in digital form only. Budget files and statistical information about caucus voting, redistricting population percentages, and other voting files contain complex formulas with color coded notations. Spreadsheets contain multiple sheets with multiple sets of data calculations. These are invaluable records of political strategy and work that would lose important functionality and meaning if printed out or even if they were converted into a static form like PDF. By preserving these records in their electronic version, we capture the functionality of the records.

Preserving records in their electronic form has a lot of advantages. Digital archives can be more accessible, sent easily to researchers anywhere in the world. No longer do you need the means to travel to access this part of the historical record; an internet connection will do. Large quantities of data can be searched, analyzed, and combined with other data to reach a better understanding of their meaning. The information that was frozen in reams of dot matrix-printed sheets can be analyzed for trends once it is stored in a database.

Important records are being produced in electronic form so how do we best preserve them and make them accessible? Early conversations with records creators is critical. Archivists can help with identifying what the creators should focus on saving over time and contextual information to capture to make them more useful to researchers. Once the electronic records are in the care of archivists. they need regular attention to keep them accessible. Servers and other storage media fail and have to be replaced. The software needed to open a file format is no longer produced and another solution needs to be found to open it. Care needs to be taken that the file is not altered in any way to preserve authenticity. This constant management takes technological infrastructure, money, and sound policies and practices. But given the significant content and research potential, the effort is well worth it.

Curious about what it takes to preserve digital records, and what you might need to do with your own files?  Check out the Council of State Archivists Electronic Records Day page or the Library of Congress Personal Digital Archiving page. Curious about the Democratic Party of Georgia’s born digital files? Expect their open access in January of 2015!

Post by Adriane Hanson, Processing and Electronic Records Archivists, and Angelica Marini, Project Archivist

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Russell Library Named Recipient of 2014 Governor’s Award

Russell Library director, Sheryl Vogt (center) posed with
Governor and Mrs. Nathan Deal and the 2014 Governor's Award. 

Governor Nathan Deal has named the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies as one of the thirteen recipients of the third annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities. This year’s winners were announced during a ceremony held at the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday, October 7th. Other 2014 winners included individuals and organizations such as The Atlanta Ballet, the Freedom Singers, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights -- all were recognized for their “commitment to preservation and promotion of Georgia’s culture and heritage.”

This year's recipients were said to exemplify Georgia's thriving and always-expanding creative sector with various programs, financial contributions, and active connections and devotion to their communities. The Russell Library was recognized for its 40 years of showcasing Georgia’s political history through its collections, exhibits, symposiums, and programs.

With particular emphasis on the role of Georgia and the U. S. Congress, the Russell Library's collection development and programming focus on the dynamic relationship of politics, policy, and culture—generated wherever public interest intersects with government. The breadth and depth of Russell Library’s collections provide an interconnected framework of perspectives and experiences for understanding the increasingly diverse people, events, and ideas shaping Georgia’s political landscape.

The Library pursues alliances and opportunities for collaboration with individuals and organizations that advance its mission. Russell Library is a founding member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress and a primary partner and official repository for the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies, a collaborative project dedicated to documenting and chronicling the activity and perceptions of lesser known participants in the civil rights movement in Georgia.

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Russell Library is hosting a Scholars & Policymakers Symposium on October 27-28, 2014. Events will include a forum on the library’s beginnings, a documentary film screening on former Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and a series of panel sessions focused on the library's key collecting areas. This two day event will feature twenty five acclaimed speakers who will highlight the impact of Russell Library collections.

Speaker Spotlight: Monica Gisolfi

Dr. Monica Gisolfi is another featured speaker at our upcoming Scholars & Policymakers Symposium hosted Oct. 27-28. Gisolfi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

She received her Ph.D. in United States history from Columbia University in 2007 and now teaches history courses on the Gilded Age, the United States, the South, and public & environmental history. She specializes in southern American history and her research interests include the histories of environment, agriculture, and landscape as well as public memory and commemoration.

Gisolfi’s piece “From Crop Lien to Contract Farming: The Roots of Agribusiness in the American South, 1929-1939” was published in Agricultural History and later included in a compilation of writings entitled The Best American History Essays 2008. As Gisolfi writes in her piece, the crop lien system was thought to be the catalyst behind southern poverty and issues in the South. This publication examines the changing agribusiness industry from the crop lien credit system used by sharecroppers and farmers in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries to the multi-million dollar contract farming business today that includes the poultry industry.

Her next piece, “Leaving the Farm to Save the Farm: Poultry Farmers, Contract Farming, and the Necessity of Public Work, 1950-1970” was published in Moving Workers, Moving Capital. Gisolfi is currently working on an untitled book examining the growth of southern agribusiness and its effects on humanity and the environment.

Don’t miss Dr. Monica Gisolfi’s appearance on the Politics of Social Relations panel (Oct. 28, 1:45-3:15PM) at the Scholars & Policymakers Symposium happening Oct. 27-28, 2014 at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries. And stay tuned to the blog for more speaker spotlights in the weeks leading up to the event!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Building the Party, One Point at a Time: The Georgia GOP’s Four Star Program

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). Project archivist Angelica Marini has been providing a series of short articles throughout this year highlighting various aspects of the records as she works to organize, describe and make them available. In her third blog post for the project, Angelica focuses her attention on the records documenting one of the Georgia Republican Party’s innovative efforts to increase political participation and win elections.

One of the Georgia GOP’s top priorities in the last two decades of the twentieth century was to open up state politics and create a competitive two-party system. In the 1980s, the GOP primarily concerned itself with fundraising to maximize the financial resources of specific candidates in specific races. In 1991, following his re-election as party chairman, Alec Poitevint, along with Executive Director David Shafer, worked to craft an ambitious political plan that focused on organizing Republicans, increasing the size and visibility of the party across the state, and making the group a true alternative to the Democratic Party. With the State Executive Committee’s approval, Poitevint and Shafer began putting that plan into action, most notably implementing what they called “The Four Star Program,” a strategy “designed to strengthen the party at its grass roots.”

The Four Star Program combined basic political organization with a healthy dose of competition. Modeled after plans used by the Kentucky and Florida Republican Parties, the Georgia program urged counties to enroll in a contest that awarded points for the achievement of specific political goals. As counties hit certain point levels, they earned status as a one-, two-, three-, or four-star county. The county with the most points overall would win $1000 with second place garnering $500. In addition the program divided counties into five groups, adding another level at which the counties could compete.

This year-long program, which ran September 1, 1991 through August 31, 1992, pushed counties with no political organization into officially incorporated Republican groups. More than anything, the Four Star Program taught local groups and individuals how to be politically active and affect change in local, state and national elections. A Four Star Program manual distributed to each county representative included a list of 33 distinct items or goals. As groups organized and achieved these goals, their points were tallied and publicized in the Four Star Program newsletter.

Party members were encouraged to find any outlet at all that would make the Republican philosophy more accessible and visible in the community; maintaining this presence was a key part of the program. Points were awarded for activities like having a “county Republican booth at your County Fair” or by hosting other Republican-sponsored events like “fish frys, picnics, or Lincoln Day events or dinners.” Each letter to the editor published in a local or statewide newspaper supporting “the GOP, your county party, local elected GOP officials, local GOP candidates, or their positions” was awarded two points.

Other broader goals included promoting frequency and consistency in county organizations; submitting the minutes of regularly scheduled meetings could gain a group up to thirty points. The program also sought to extend reach of the Republican Party by building a more diverse constituency; for fifteen points, each county could submit evidence of an affiliated group for women, African Americans, young people and others.

The Georgia Republican Party Records contain invaluable evidence of the Four Star Program’s success and the efforts to build party strength at the county level. Each county that competed submitted materials to state party headquarters for verification. For example, files submitted by Four Star Camden County, winner of the top prize with a total of 415 points (out of a possible 456), include correspondence between county organizational leaders and state party coordinators, a county political plan, monthly updates, meeting minutes, newsletters, and press materials.

About a year after the program’s implementation, Poitevint issued “Breakthrough ‘92: A Report on Our Progress” in which he affirms the importance of the program and its impact on elections. He confidently states that in the November 1992 elections “records were set or broken at virtually every level of government.” A graph included in the report shows “dramatic increases” in the “Republican voting strength” of the top ten counties in the Four Star Program. The proof: Georgia elected a Republican Senator, Paul Coverdell, and sent three new Republicans to the U.S. House in the 1992 elections.

Post by Angelica Marini, Project Archivist, Russell Library

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Annual Parthemos Lecture Hosted at Special Collections Building Oct. 15

The Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia will host its annual Parthemos Lecture on October 15th from 3:30-5:00 in the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, Room 271.  This year's invited speaker is Dr. David Mayhew.

Dr. David Mayhew is one of the world’s leading authorities on Congress and American party politics. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of his landmark book, Congress: The Electoral Connection, which is one of the most widely read and cited books in political science. His other award-winning books include Divided We Govern (2005) and Partisan Balance: Why Political Parties Don’t Kill the U.S. Constitution (2011). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. He has been a member of the board of overseers of the National Election Studies of the Center for Political Studies, and has served as a Guggenheim Fellow, a Hoover National Fellow, a Sherman Fairchild Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, and an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. He received the Samuel J. Eldersveld Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association in 2004.

For more information about the event contact John Maltese at 706-542-2057