Friday, January 30, 2015

It’s Party Time!: Georgia Political Parties Project Opens New Collections

In February 2014, the Russell Library embarked on a one-year project to process the records of the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG) 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). One year later, the project is complete!

The records of both parties are open and available for research and represent a significant contribution to understanding party politics in Georgia. The GAGOP records (1974-1999) include 47 linear feet of records and over 100 audiovisual items (1981-1998). The DPG records  (1960-2008) include 64 linear feet of paper records, 6.2 gigabytes of electronic records, and 574 audiovisual items. Finding aids, or guides, to the records of the GAGOP and the DPG are available by searching the Russell Library’s online database or clicking the links above.

Item from the Georgia Republican Party Records.
Throughout the last year, we’ve brought attention to some of the dynamic records in these collections on the Russell Library blog. Articles have touched on the physical processing of political records and how an archivist might approach retaining the “original order” of a collection while also providing better access to materials through arrangement and description. If you’re interested in this aspect of archives and the collections, check out the blog posts  “Getting the Party Started: Processing the Records of Georgia's Political Parties” and "‘I do not belong to any organized party’: Making Sense of the Democratic Party of Georgia Records.” For an exploration of the ways in which archivists process electronic records, our post, “Let’s Get Digital: Electronic Records Day 2014” looks at some of the records of the DPG that only exist in digital form.

Item from the Democratic Party of Georgia Records.
Other blogs have highlighted the stories to be found in these organizational records. "‘The Right Leadership at the Top:’ The Records of the Georgia Republican Party Chairman" provides an in-depth look at two important leaders in a critical period of political transitioning in the state. “Building the Party, One Point at a Time: The Georgia GOP’s Four Star Program” looks at one specific set of records that document an important push for grassroots development in the many counties of Georgia.

In the coming months, you’ll see additional posts exploring the DPG records. In February, we’ll share a photo essay showcasing the work of Audley Tucker, the official DPG photographer for over twenty years, who captured Jimmy Carter’s gubernatorial win in 1970 -- just a sampling of the many rich photographs in the DPG records. And in March, we will explore the inimitable Marge Thurman, a forgotten Chairman of the DPG, whose heart was reportedly as big as her hairdo.

The records of the GAGOP and the DPG document the inner workings of Georgia’s two major political parties. The era documented by these records is a pivotal and complex period in state and national politics; parties fought for supremacy in an evolving political climate that saw rapid political realignments. Each collection tells a different, though parallel, story about the parties’ group dynamics and organizational culture and, taken together, highlights a vital aspect of Georgia’s political history reveals much about the political history of the state, and nation, in the second half of the twentieth century.

Post by Angelica Marini, Project Archivist, Russell Library