Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spotlight: Athens Oral History Project

This post was written by Alexander M. Stephens, a graduate student in UGA's Department of History and Russell Library Oral History Interviewer. He spotlights the Athens Oral History Project -- a new initiative of the Russell Library's Oral History and Media Unit led by Callie Holmes and Christian Lopez. This article also appears in the latest edition of Beyond the Pages, the newsletter of the UGA Libraries.  

About 500 yards from the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, there is a place in downtown Athens that is unknown to the vast majority of UGA students and alumni. Its history is one of struggle and triumph, ingenuity and community, each renewed on a daily basis. This is Hot Corner, and for most people in Athens, it hides in plain sight.

For the better part of the twentieth century, Hot Corner was the center of commerce and culture for black communities in the Athens area. The Morton Theatre, which opened in 1910, was the crowning achievement of local entrepreneur Monroe Bowers “Pink” Morton. It became the creative center of the Hot Corner district and, thanks to Athenians who forged a partnership between the Morton Theatre Corporation and Athens-Clarke County, it remains vital to Athens civic life. But there always was, and still is, much more to Hot Corner than the Morton Theatre. As Homer Wilson puts it, there is a unique spirit that courses through this section of downtown. For him, the owner of Wilson’s Styling Shop on Hull Street, this spirit has never faded. The commitments of the Wilson family, the Browns, the Wades, and countless others have embedded this area deep within the beating heart of Athens history. For this reason, Hot Corner is one of the community spaces at the center of the Athens Oral History Project, an initiative of the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies designed to ensure that the history of our town reflects the people who call it home.

Christian Lopez, oral history archivist, gets the studio set
up for interviewee Rev. Archibald Killian, July 2014.
Wilson first began working as a barber in his father’s shop in the early 1960s. Wilson’s Styling Shop and neighboring Brown’s Barber Shop have kept local residents looking their best for fifty years. But more than that, these establishments are centers of social and political life. As Wilson told us in our first interview for the Athens Oral History Project, these barber shops have always been forums for community debates and regular stops for local politicians looking to hear people’s thoughts and make things happen. Whether Athenians go to Hot Corner to talk politics at Wilson’s, have a drink at Manhattan Cafe, or compete in world-class checkers matches at Brown’s, the intersection of Hull Street and Washington Street remains vital to the overall composition of our town. Some of the families with roots at Hot Corner joined together in 2000 to form the Hot Corner Association, an organization dedicated to honoring the district’s history and promoting minority entrepreneurship. The Russell Library’s goal is to support efforts like these by documenting the history of important community members and spaces—the ways things have changed and the ways they have remained the same.

But preservation is not our only goal. The Athens Oral History Project is also about learning to see what we normally don’t, the blocks that we may walk by every day without thinking about the people who live and work there. It’s these places, the ones perhaps least likely to end up in a brochure, that are most important to Lemuel LaRoche. Known around town as “Life,” LaRoche has been working in Athens communities for 15 years. As an undergraduate and later a master’s student in the UGA School of Social Work, LaRoche began looking for ways to bridge the gaps that he observed between local black communities and the university. He helped form the Dreaded Mindz Collective, a group of artists and activists who used spoken word poetry and hip hop to forge a closer bond between UGA and the town. LaRoche still uses poetry and music as a way to reach people in performances throughout the Southeast, but for a number of years his main method for connecting people around town has been the game of chess. LaRoche founded the Chess and Community Conference in 2012 to bring together youth from all over the Athens area. Chanting the mantra, “Think before you move,” he carries chess sets wherever he goes, inciting spontaneous play and honest conversations among people who otherwise might have never met. He has an uncanny ability to provoke introspection in both kids and adults while sitting at the chess board. And people are starting to notice. LaRoche received the 2015 President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award presented by UGA for his efforts to “build bridges of unity and understanding” in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

AOHP Interviewer Alexander Stephens talking with
Bennie McKinley, July 2014.
This building process, though exciting and often joyful, is also marked by pain. In our recent interview, LaRoche demonstrated that oral history is not only about recalling the past. This research method causes time to twist. In the act of remembering, past and present and future meld into fears and hopes and visions. This became clear when LaRoche spoke about his aspirations for Athens, the place where he and his wife will raise their son, now just 15 months old. Evoking the concerns that scholar W.E.B.

Du Bois expressed for his son in Atlanta in 1903 and echoing lessons that Homer Wilson’s father taught him in the 1950s, Laroche spoke of wanting to live in a community—and in a world—where his son can grow into a man and not have to fear for his life because of the color of his skin. After a year marked by the violent deaths of young black men around the country, our interview with LaRoche reminds us of the stakes history holds for the present.

Oral history has the potential to amplify voices that have been muted in the historical record. In some cases, interviewees offer new takes on familiar events, as Rev. Archibald Killian did when he spoke of hosting Hamilton Holmes in his house during Holmes’s years at UGA. In other instances, interviewees shed light on aspects of our past that might otherwise be forgotten, as Bennie McKinley demonstrated when she talked about the support that Hot Corner businesses offered her and other high school students who led local civil rights actions in the 1960s. The Russell Library’s Athens Oral History Project is about bringing together these voices—from political leaders like Gwen O’Looney, to business owners like Homer Wilson, to educators like Anne Brightwell—so that history will reflect not just the people who have made headlines, but the people who have made history happen every day.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Tribute to Eva Galambos

Our staff was saddened to learn about the death of Eva Galambos, who passed away on Sunday, April 19th at the age of  87.

Galambos was president of the Committee for Sandy Springs from 1975-2005, a group which lead efforts to incorporate the city. She also served as the city's first mayor, holding the office for two terms before stepping down in 2013. The collection she donated to the Russell Library includes correspondence, memoranda, announcements and flyers, meeting minutes, articles of incorporation, subject files, photographs, publications, and more related to the incorporation and activities of the Committee for Sandy Springs, Friends of Sandy Springs, Citizens for Sandy Springs, Georgia Future Communities Commission, and Northside Woods Neighborhood Association. 

In 2012 Galambos sat down with interviewer Bob Short to record on oral history for the Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series. 


Monday, April 13, 2015

Making the Case (Available): Preparing ACLU Case Files for Research

ACLU of Georgia logo, 2005/2006
annual report (ACLU of Georgia
Records, Series I., Box 8, Folder 40)
This semester I have the great fortune of reviewing a collection donated to the Russell Library by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Georgia. The ACLU seeks to defend the principles and freedoms granted to individuals in the Bill of Rights. To do this, the ACLU of Georgia (along with 52 other ACLU affiliates) advocates for civil liberties by working toward changes in case law and legislation. As a second-year law student at the University of Georgia School of Law, I have been asked to review the ACLU’s records for a variety of legal restrictions - including attorney-client communications, attorney work-product, and confidential materials. It can be difficult for a layperson to know the differences between these restrictions and determine when they apply, so having the documents reviewed by someone with legal knowledge is important. I can scan documents for restrictions more quickly, and, when there is a question about whether a restriction should apply, I know what kind of legal sources (ex. law journals, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, and the Official Code of Georgia) I should consult for an answer. Working on the ACLU of Georgia’s records has been useful for me as well. I enjoy learning more about the lives and work of people who live in Georgia and I get to review the files of some pretty interesting cases.

As many of the researchers who visit the Russell Library know, wading through documents that are sometimes more than ten years old can be tedious. However, the rewards from working on this collection far outweigh any challenges that this research can bring. What rewards could one possibly get from searching through these records? Well, to begin, the ACLU of Georgia’s records offer unique insight into the legal issues that Georgians faced over the past forty years -- issues that, in many ways, continue to exist. Challenges to unlawful searches and arrests, abuses of prisoners’ rights, abrogation of free speech, including free speech of children while at school, and the commingling of church and state can all be found in these records. The ACLU records offer so much more than what you can read about these issues in a ten-page court opinion! These records contain a unique perspective into the kinds of legal arguments parties filed with the court and the debate surrounding these issues. That kind of lawyerly jostling for a favorable opinion cannot always be captured in the final opinion issued by the court. For that reason alone, the ACLU of Georgia records will be worth a visit.
"Know Your Rights" brochure
(ACLU of Georgia Records, Series I., Box 8, Folder 48) 

Additionally, the records provide an interesting look at the kinds of pleadings, memoranda, and other legal filings that are part and parcel to a case. As a law student, it has been interesting to come across types of pleadings that I have never heard of before. I enjoy having the opportunity to read through those pleadings and get a sense of how lawyers practice on a daily basis. But even individuals without a legal education can find interest in the form arguments take when they are presented to a court and the procedure for doing so.

Overall working on the ACLU of Georgia records has been immensely rewarding, and I look forward to learning more about the kinds of legal issues that affect Georgians and the ways the ACLU has sought to address those issues.

For researchers interested in accessing these records, the case files will be available for research following the completion of the review, expected in early 2016.  Other portions of the records, including administrative, issue, and legislative files, will be opened this.

Post by Shaniqua Singleton, Russell Library student assistant

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Come In – We’re Open: New Collections Available for Research, April 2015

The Russell Library is pleased to announce the opening of several new collections.

Extensive collections documenting U.S. Senators Max Cleland and Zell Miller, the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Georgia Republican Party, State Senator Eric Johnson and the work of scholar Howard J. Wiarda are available now. We also are opening a number of smaller collections documenting, among other things, Athens-Clarke County politics, World War II veterans, masonic orders, desegregation, Dean Rusk, two prominent legal figures, and early 20th century politics. Follow the links below for full inventories of these collections.

Beth Abney Collection of Campaign Material, 1964-1993
The Beth Abney Collection of Campaign Material includes campaign ephemera from the gubernatorial campaigns of Joe Frank Harris, Lester Maddox and Zell Miller and a 1964 article about Grace Stephens, wife of Congressman Robert G. Stephens.

Leeman Anderson Collection of Masonic Lodge Records, 1848-1914
The Leeman Anderson Collection of Masonic Lodge Records documents the activities of two masonic lodges, Erin Lodge, No. 70, in Meriwether County, Georgia, and Hollonville Lodge, No. 70, in Pike County, Georgia, which were active from the middle of the 19th century into the early part of the 20th century

Arthur K. Bolton Scrapbooks, 1965-1993
Arthur K. Bolton served as the fiftieth attorney general of the State of Georgia (1965-1981). The scrapbooks contain clippings, photographs, certificates and other ephemera related to his life and career.

Eloise Gay Brawley Collection of Richard B. Russell Letters, 1930-1971
Eloise Gay Brawley was a supporter of Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. The collection consists of letters written by Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr., to Mrs. Eloise Gay Brawley and newspaper clippings pertaining to the activities of Senator Russell and the Russell family.

Patricia Collins Butler Collection, 1938-2009
The Patricia Collins Butler Collection includes documentation of the romance and engagement of Patricia Collins and Richard B. Russell, Jr., in 1938.

Max Cleland Papers, 1947-2008
Cleland represented Georgia in the U.S. Senate (1997-2002), with previous service as a Georgia state senator, head of the Veterans Administration, and Georgia Secretary of State. Cleland's papers predominantly document his career as a U.S. Senator and include constituent correspondence, legislative subject files, files from his committee service, press files, and files from his district office.

Homer Cooper Papers, 1945-2005
Homer Cooper was a professor of sociology, a veteran of World War II, and an active member of the Democratic Party. His papers document his involvement in the China-Burma-India Veterans Association and University of Georgia governance issues.

Charles R. Crisp Papers, 1875-1932
Charles R. Crisp served in the U.S. Congress from Georgia's 3rd district (1913-1932). The papers contain speeches and related notes, clippings, correspondence, and a legal document.

Democratic Party of Georgia Records, 1960-2007
The Democratic Party of Georgia Records include materials from the political organization related to the running of the state party, including materials related to administrative and financial departments, committee files, convention materials, and photographs.

John English File on Dean Rusk, 1966-1979
The John English File on Dean Rusk contains newspaper clippings covering Rusk's time at the University of Georgia and his commentary on foreign policy throughout the 1970s. The material includes a few memos from Rusk to English.

Freedom on Film Oral History Collection, 2007
Freedom on Film Oral History Collection includes three miniDV videocassettes containing interviews from 2007 with Mary Roberts-Bailey, Pete McCommons, and Joe Willie Wyms, who discuss their experiences in the desegregation of Georgia.

Georgia and National Political Ephemera Collection, 1906-1974
The Georgia and National Political Ephemera Collection includes material documenting political campaigns in Georgia, in the United States as well as a small amount of material on Canadian, French, and British political parties. The bulk of the collection is comprised of bumper stickers but also includes pamphlets, brochures, clippings, and matchbooks from candidates' political campaigns.

Georgia Republican Party Records, 1974-1999
The Georgia Republican Party Records contain materials from the political organization related to the running of the state party. The records represent the functions of the state party and include: the election of statewide and national candidates to political office, statewide political planning, gathering of voting statistics, and fundraising for the party.

W. Colbert Hawkins, Sr. Papers, 1965-1969
W. Colbert Hawkins, Sr., was a lawyer in Sylvania, Georgia and a Superior Court Judge, Ogeechee Judicial Circuit. His papers include correspondence with Georgia politicians, the legal community, and the business community (1965-1969).

Cardee Kilpatrick Papers, 1975-2010
Cardee Kilpatrick served Athens, Georgia, as a member of the Clarke County Board of Education (1979-1984), the Athens City Council (1986-1990) and the Athens-Clarke County Commission (1990-2004). Her papers include correspondence, planning documents, campaign materials, speeches, news clippings, photographs and artifacts.

Zell Miller Papers, Series V. United States Senator, 1928-2012, bulk, 2000-2005
Series V. United States Senator documents Miller's service as a U.S. Senator for Georgia from 2000 to 2005. The series includes his correspondence with constituents, committee and legislation files, and press files.

Richard B. Russell Statue Dedication Materials, 1996
The Richard B. Russell Statue Dedication Materials document the dedication on January 24, 1996, of the Russell statue that stands in the Richard B. Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The materials include photographs, clippings, a certificate, a speech and related correspondence.

Howard J. Wiarda Papers, 1928-2012
Howard J. Wiarda is a scholar, consultant, think tanker, and political advisor in the fields of international relations, foreign policy, and comparative politics. His papers document his academic and political career, including his research, advising of government officials, and participation in Washington think tanks, and are predominantly composed of research files and writings.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Wasps as a Force for Good: Combating Agroterrorism

During Max Cleland’s time as U.S. Senator (1997-2003), the country tackled the ongoing problem of preventing terrorist attacks. But while airport security cracked down nationwide post 9/11, the University of Georgia’s Department of Entomology was hard at work developing alternative means to prepare for potential terroristic threats.

Though not at the forefront of media coverage, the possibility of an attack on America’s food supply was also of national concern. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution article found in Cleland’s papers details that such an attack could be especially harmful to Georgia where agriculture is the largest industry. Of the $5.7 billion per year that agriculture was bringing into Georgia’s economy as of 2001, it was projected that a single cow infected with foot-and-mouth disease could cost $3 billion. With the effects of that kind of isolated incident in mind, a targeted attack on poultry, local crops, or imported grains coming into the Port of Savannah would be unbelievably devastating. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, then there’s the added problem of recognizing infected crops that could be laced with hard-to-detect chemicals. The modern technology to monitor the food supply was not only impractical, but also expensive and often inaccurate.

UGA’s solution: trained wasps.
Photograph of wasp trained to exhibit a head sticking response
(source: Cleland Papers, Series V., Box 29, Folder 25)
Apparently, using wasps to monitor the food supply had first been considered in the 1970’s when UGA scientists began utilizing a particular species’ incredible sense of smell. In nature, these parasitic wasps (Microplitis croceipes, if you speak Latin) use chemical cues to find food and to track the host caterpillars in which they lay their eggs. When scientists at UGA experimented with manipulating this ability so that the wasps would associate food with other smells, they found that, like Pavlov’s dog, the hungry wasps began to exhibit certain behavior when chemicals were introduced, even when food was nowhere to be found. As agroterrorism became a growing threat, it seemed only natural to use these wasps’ powers for good.

Cartoon of wasp detecting hazardous chemical
(source: Cleland Papers, Series V., Box 29, Folder 25)
As potential supporter for anti-terrorism insect funding, Senator Cleland received a bundle of information about the program’s development in 2002. Complete with diagrams and even a cartoon of a sentient wasp looking for clues to track down the bad guys, a report titled “Use of Insects and other Organisms as Chemical Biosensors” details exactly how these unlikely heroes could be conditioned and then put to work fighting terrorism.

The portable system involves wasps in PVC pipes that can be attached to an air chamber containing testing samples. [picture 3] It is also surprisingly easy to train the wasps; they can be conditioned in under an hour and can recognize the presence and intensity of explosives, illegal drugs, and naturally occurring threats to agriculture. (At the time that the wasps were brought to Senator Cleland’s attention, some wasps had already been trained to detect a mold harmful to Georgia’s peanut crops). The species is no bigger than flying ants, and they only use their stingers on caterpillars, posing no danger to allergic humans. So while not as intimidating as German shepherds, wasps have abilities to rival drug dogs. And, keeping it local, they’re native to Georgia, too.

Diagram of detection device employing wasps
(source: Cleland Papers, Series V., Box 29, Folder 25)
In 2005, this research led to the development of the “Wasp Hound.”

For further information on agroterrorism and other issues affecting Georgia and the nation, please consult the Max Cleland Papers, which are now available for research.

Post by Rachael Zipperer, Russell Library student assistant