Monday, March 27, 2017

Lunch and Learn Series to Explore How Congress Works (or Should Work!)

A new program series hosted by the Richard B. Russell Library this April invites attendees to consider the powers and function of the U.S. Congress. Titled Civic Knowledge = Civic Power, the weekly program hosted from 12:30-1:30 p.m. looks to increase civic knowledge on campus and in the community with short lectures and informal discussion with speakers from UGA’s Department of Political Science.

The powers of the United States Congress are considerable and well established. Congress can collect taxes, coin money, declare war, raise and support armies and a navy, and make all laws necessary and proper to carry out its powers – just to name a few. But understanding Congress cannot be done in a vacuum or just through a listing of powers

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, a center for research and study of the American political system, devised this series as a way to promote greater understanding at a time when surveys show declining levels of knowledge and confidence in Congress. “A 2016 survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that citizen knowledge of government basics is at a new low,” said outreach archivist Jan Hebbard. “At a time when many citizens seem increasingly interested in playing a more active role in politics, we wanted to create a space for informal learning about this branch of government and its history.” The series was also inspired by the annual Congress Week initiative, led by the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress.

At each event featured speakers will address a selected topic, beginning on April 4 with Dr. Anthony Madonna and Dr. Michael Lynch discussing how a bill becomes a law. Other topics on the schedule include Congress and the media; a short history of the filibuster; and uses of the executive order. Organizers hope addressing issues that have garnered widespread attention since the 2016 presidential election will engage people from both the campus and community. “We try to keep our programming connected both to our collections and to current events – helping people to draw connections between the past and present,” said Jill Severn, head of access and outreach for the Russell Library.

Partners for the series include the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, the UGA College Republicans, and the UGA Young Democrats. A full listing of programs in the series can be found below. For more information contact or call 706-542-5788.

Lunch & Learn Program, Topic: How a Bill Becomes a Law

Lunch & Learn Program, Topic: Congress and the Media: Shaping Public Perceptions

Lunch & Learn Program, Topic: A History of the Filibuster

Lunch & Learn Program, Topic: Use of the Executive Order

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Disability History Collections Open for Research

Since 2013 the Russell Library has been a partner in the Georgia Disability History Alliance, a group of activists, advocates organizational leaders, archivists, and others united to document and preserve the state’s disability history. Over the past year, through partial support from UGA’s Center for Social Justice, Human & Civil Rights, Russell Library staff has completed processing over a dozen collections that form part of the Georgia Disability History Archive. These newly available collections document individuals and organizations in the areas of disability rights and activism, developmental disabilities, mental health advocacy, public policy and law, independent living and support programs, and assistive technology. To explore these topics and more, see the collection descriptions below and follow the links for complete guides to these collections.

Excerpt from ADAPT activist Mark Johnson's
testimony before the U.S. Senate on the Americans
with Disabilities Act, 1989.
Carol Jones Papers
The Archive as a whole seeks to document the vital and transformative work undertaken by disability activists, advocates, and organizations and, crucially, the experiences of persons with disabilities over the past 100 years in the state of Georgia. Major collecting areas include, but are not limited to: accessibility, activism and social justice, citizen advocacy, independent and community living, self-advocacy, education, employment, culture and pride. These collections will support research, teaching, public programming, and exhibitions. For more information about the Archive, please contact Mat Darby at or 706-542-0627.

Dottie Adams Papers, 1968-2007
Dottie Adams is the former Individual and Family Supports Director for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. Her papers document her prolific career in advocacy and disability activism (1968-2009) and includes materials from her work with state agencies and commissions, support organizations, and philanthropic and activist work in the state of Georgia.

ADA Training Materials Collection, 1990-2004
The ADA Training Materials Collection includes curricula created by the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) for states and organizations to use in implementing ADA education and training.

Annette Bowling Papers, 1996-2013
Annette Bowling (1936-2016) served as the executive director of the Albany Advocacy Resource Center for over forty years. Her papers include materials related to her work advocating for people with disabilities, notably her service as chair of the Commissioner’s Oversight Committee, which oversaw the closures of the Brook Run Center in 1997 and the Georgia Mental Health Institute (GMHI) in 1998.

Disability Law and Policy Center of Georgia Records, 2000-2011
The Disability Law and Policy Center of Georgia is an organization that addresses the legal rights of the disabled in individual cases, employment, and education. The records include documentation of the Center's policies and priorities, grant-funded activities, and employee engagement.

Beth English Collection of Disability History Materials, 1968-2012
Beth English is the executive director of Easter Seals Southern Georgia. Her collection documents her work on the Commissioner’s Oversight Committee, which oversaw the closure of the Brook Run Center in 1997, her work as executive director of Easter Seals Southern Georgia, advocacy initiatives, and Central State Hospital, in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Roderick L. (RL) Grubbs Papers, 1973-2014
Roderick L. (RL) Grubbs (1959-2016) was an advocate for assistive technology, a disability rights activist, and a specialist in the Georgia Department of Community Health. His papers include subject files on a variety of disability-related topics and organizations and material related to Money Follows the Person, a state program.

Mark Johnson Papers, 1965-2015
Mark Johnson is the Director of Advocacy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He holds a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling and has been an advocate and leader in the disability rights movement for over thirty years. His papers contain subject and chronological files, artifacts, t-shirts, and audiovisual materials related to his work as a disability advocate, organizer, and professional.

Carol Jones Papers, 1987-2011
Carol Jones is an advocacy specialist at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and a long-time participant in the disability rights movement. Her papers include documents and memorabilia related to many advocacy issues and organizations, including ADAPT and the Long Road Home March and Rally.

Mary Kissel Papers, 1990-2007
Mary Kissel is a founder and interim executive director of Georgia Options. Her papers document her advocacy for person-centered care for individuals with developmental disabilities and her work with Georgia Options and other advocacy organizations.
The Bell Ringer, a publication of the
Metropolitan Atlanta Mental Health Association,
February 1962.
Beverly Benson Long Papers

Beverly Benson Long Papers, 1940-2009
Beverly Benson Long (1920-2015) served in state, national and international organizations as a mental health professional and advocate. Her papers document her extensive work and career in the mental health field and include correspondence, internal reports, papers, newsletters, memos, conference proceedings, and commission and board meeting materials.

Reverend Calvin Peterson and Disabled in Action Atlanta Collection, 1967-2015
Reverend Calvin Peterson is the founder and director of Disabled in Action, a non-profit organization with a mission to advocate, educate and empower people with disabilities living in poverty, their families and caregivers, and with an emphasis on equity and inclusion. The collection includes articles of incorporation, correspondence, press releases, news clippings, brochures, flyers, photographs, DVDs, and other materials that document Rev. Peterson and Disabled in Action's advocacy and activism.

Don Schanche, Jr. Papers, 1986-2004
Flyer for the organization, Disabled in Action,
circa 1990. Reverend Calvin Peterson and
Disabled in Atlanta Collection. 
Don Schanche, Jr. is a journalist who has written for many Georgia newspapers. His papers document his investigative work on state hospitals and his coverage of disability issues throughout the state.

Southeast ADA Center Resource Collection, 1990-2010
The Southeast ADA Center provides information, training, and guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act and disability access for business, government, and individuals at the local, state, and regional levels. The collection includes materials created and distributed by the center for education, instruction and compliance with the ADA.

A publication of the Georgia Psychoeducational
Center Network, 1973.
Mary M. Woods Papers
Mary M. Wood Papers, 1972-2011
Mary M. Wood is an educator, researcher and founder of the Developmental Therapy Institute, which focuses on training, research, development and outreach in Developmental Therapy-Teaching (DTT). Her papers document her work to improve the lives of troubled children, teens, and their families through effective interventions and includes publications, research and grant files.


Thursday, March 02, 2017

From Dog Tags to Car Tags: Tommy T. Irvin and the GDA

Former Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) Commissioner Tommy T. Irvin spent most of his life serving the state of Georgia. Through his 42 years as commissioner (1969-2011), Irvin promoted locally grown food, created monthly statewide educational programming, supported marginalized farmers, helped monitor horses in competition at the 1996 Olympics, and attended countless agriculture events.

However, Irvin’s legacy does include one controversial lawsuit in 2007 involving the 1990 Humane Euthanasia Act. In the act, State Representative Chelsey V. Morton details the humane ways in which shelters could put down animals through lethal injection. Irvin and the GDA’s Animal Protection Division were responsible for ensuring that all shelters were killing their animals according to this humane code. The GDA and Irvin, as commissioner, were sued in 2007 by Representative Morton because they were licensing shelters that used inhumane methods of killing. The court found in favor of the plaintiff, Representative Morton. and, as a result,  issued a temporary restraining order to the GDA prohibiting them  from renewing licenses for shelters using illegal killing methods. Later that same year, the GDA was held in contempt for issuing a license to a Cobb County shelter that used an unapproved method.

Now, this all paints former Commissioner Irvin in a rather unfavorable light when it comes to overcrowded animal shelters and animal care. However, as documented in his papers, Irvin appears to have taken this issue very seriously but attacked it from a different angle. From 1999 to 2002, the GDA worked on passing a constitutional amendment to create a sterilization program to address animal overpopulation. On November 5, 2002, the Dog/Cat Sterilization License Plate program was put before voters. The referendum, which would allow the license plate to be sold and administered by the GDA, passed by a 70% margin, and the GDA undertook a process to implement the legislation which was enacted in the following year.

Irvin speaking in support of Amendment 6 at the state capitol in 2002.
Source: Series I, Box 11, Folder 14.
Excerpt from brochure advertising the tag program, 2005.
Series I, Box 9, Folder 26.
The Dog/Cat Tag Sterilization License Plate program treats the designated plate as any other “specialty” plate. The county tag office collects the fee for the plate ($25 in 2005). Those funds are used to pay for sterilization procedures, to provide educational materials about the importance of sterilization, and to promote sales of the plate. The funds are accessed through an existing state accounting system, and the GDA pays licensed veterinarians to spay or neuter the animals. Purchasing the plate is entirely optional, and importantly, tax-deductible.

By December 2005, about a year before the Morton v. Irvin lawsuit, the sale of the sterilization license plate was advertised by the GDA. In a quote from a 2005 brochure, Irvin stated, “This program is saving the lives of dogs and cats without increasing taxes.” By August 2006, another brochure boasted that more than 700 accredited vets had performed 20,000 sterilization procedures through this program.
Tommy Irvin quote from brochure advertising the tag program, 2005.
Series I, Box 9, Folder 26.
In 2008, GDA held a photo contest for a new “Feline Friend” license plate design. Winner Randy Bieniek submitted a photo of a beautiful, short-hair cat, Hope, who was later adopted. This Feline Friend plate was added to the Animal Friend and Dog Friend plates promoted by the Dog/Cat Sterilization program in December 2008. By January 2009, more than 1,000 licensed and accredited vets participated in the program, and more than 41,000 spay/neuter procedures were funded in all 159 Georgia counties.
Flier advertising for the new "Feline Friendly" license
plate, circulated by GDA, 2008. Source: Series I, Box 9,
Folder 26. 

The Dog/Cat Sterilization program is still going strong today. The program is now funded by tag sales and private donations, and since 2013, a grant program. In the initial round of grants, $125,000 were awarded to 19 applicants, and, in 2015, $200,000 were awarded. Since 2003, over 100,000 spay/neuter procedures have been administered through the program, and that number continues to increase.

So, the next time you are driving on a Georgia highway and see a spay/neuter license plate, you will be witnessing one of Tommy Irvin’s legacies.

Visit  the Russell Library to research the Tommy Irvin Papers and see documentation of the preliminary work for the Tommy T. Irvin Dog/Cat Sterilization program, a full transcript of the 2002 Dog/Cat Sterilization Bill, copies of newspaper clippings announcing the program, brochures, meeting notes, original sample plates, unveiling photographs, and more.