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Staff and projects at the Center for Public History make the news! Click on the link above to find newspaper articles about the Center for Public History.


2011 News

National Council for Public History Annual Conference
On April 8, Dusty Marie Dye, Bobby Moore, Mollie Marlow, and Marcus Toft presented their work for the Center for Public History at the poster session at the National Council for Public History annual conference in Pensacola, Florida. Designed to offer presenters a chance to share their work with public history professionals and fellow students, the poster session allowed our staff to talk about many of the Center’s exciting projects. Dusty talked about her work with African American shape note singing traditions, Bobby and Mollie showed their progress on the website that will be launched in conjunction with the Georgia tour of the Smithsonian’s New Harmonies exhibit, and Marcus shared his work on the interpretative panels that will be installed at the Leake Site near Cartersville, Georgia. To see a copy of Marcus’s poster, click here. To see Dusty’s presentation on note singing, click here. To see a screen shot of the New Harmonies website, click here.
Public History Center Showcase








As the spring semester winds down, we’ve also taken the opportunity to share the Center’s work with students and staff at the UWG. On April 13, the Center hosted the first annual Public History Center showcase where several students presented a sampling of the projects that we’ve been working on this year. Dusty Dye, Mollie Marlow, and Bobby Moore all shared portions of their NCPH presentations. Sam Stokes talked about his work with the Digital Georgia Project and showed some of the photos and interviews that he has digitized from our collections. Steven Eubanks, recipient of the Elizabeth Lyons Fellowship from the Georgia Trust, gave a presentation on his efforts to document post-World War II textile mill architecture. Steven also received an award for his outstanding work at the Center, which has involved extensive travel to historic textile mills throughout the state.


Center Staff Presents at NCPH
Come see us in Pensacola on Friday, April 8, at 3:30 when several of our student staff members will present their work at a poster session at the National Council for Public History’s annual meeting. Marcus Toft will discuss his work on the Leake Site interpretive panel project. Dusty Dye will present her poster entitled “Public History in Sacred Spaces: Navigating Expectations in Cemeteries and Churches,” which will focus on her internship in Oakland Cemetery and on her work at the Center for Public History documenting African American shape note singing. Bobby Moore and Mollie Marlow will be displaying their work on the website for the forthcoming Georgia tour of the Smithsonian’s travelling exhibit New Harmonies. The presentations will include posters and multimedia designed by the students and will be a great way to share the great work of the Center for Public History with a national audience.


Center Staff Presents Research to Georgia National Register Review Board

On Friday, January 28, Dr. Keith S. Hebert presented a National Register of Historic Places nomination on behalf of Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens to the Georgia National Register Review Board. The presentation marked the culmination of a partnership among the Paradise Garden's Park and Museum, the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, and the University of West Georgia’s Center for Public History. Paradise Gardens is a 20th century visionary-art environment located in Chattooga County. From 1961 to 1991, folk artist Howard Finster created thousands of pieces of art at this site and constructed an elaborate 4-acre outdoor art garden. The church pictured above, for example, was built by the artist using funds recieved from the National Endowment for the Arts. Finster died in 2001 and the property fell into a state of disrepair. Fortunately, a non-profit organization has been established to manage the site. In 2010, the Georgia Trust identified the gardens as one of the state's "Places in Peril." The Trust then contacted Dr. Hebert to assist the gardens with the preparation of a National Register nomination. Hopefully, this will add momentum to efforts to preserve one of America's most significant works of art.
At the same meeting, Graduate Research Assistant Steven Eubanks presented a preliminary report on his progress documenting twentieth-century textile mills. In May of 2010, the Georgia Trust awarded Steven the Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship to support his research with a view of providing context for a future statewide survey of historic mill buildings and a full-length scholarly article on the subject. Steven is concentrating particularly on the architecture of mills after World War II, as many of those buildings are now beginning to pass into the category of historic structures and preservation efforts will rely upon the background information that his work will provide. In the presentation, Steven focused on the work that he has done thus far in the field and what he has observed in his surveys of the buildings he has visited. He noted four main characteristics of additions to mill buildings after World War II, including few or no windows, single stories, air conditioning systems, and steel columns and roof supports. Steven will continue his work throughout this semester and present his findings to the Georgia Trust upon the project’s completion.


This late 1960s addition, at Martha Mills in Thomaston, GA denotes the vast changes in the design of post WWII additions to Georgia’s textile mills. The original 1920s era three story mill can be seen in the background, which differs greatly from the one story weave shed in the foreground.


2010 News

Student Awarded Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship
In May of this year, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation awarded University of West Georgia student Steven Eubanks with the Elizabeth Lyon Fellowship to support his research on mid-twentieth century textile mill architecture in northwest Georgia. Established in 1994, the fellowship is designed to “connect graduate research with the preservation of historic properties, contribute significantly to the scholarship of historic preservation in general and in Georgia, and inspire preservation goals within communities throughout the Fellow's professional career.” Steven’s work will help to provide historic context for a future statewide survey of historic mill buildings and will eventually result in a full-length scholarly article on the subject.

When asked about the significance of his project, Steven says that there are several reasons to study the history and architecture of the post-WWII textile industry in Georgia. From a historic preservation standpoint, the buildings that housed textile production in the mid-twentieth century are now beginning to pass into the category of historic structures, which are usually understood to be those buildings that are over fifty years old. Future preservation efforts will rely upon the documentation and background context that Steven’s research will provide. In addition, Steven’s work will encourage a global understanding of the history of Georgia’s apparel industry, highlighting the ways in which the international marketplace has influenced both the growth and decline of textile production in the state.

Ultimately, however, Steven says that the goal of his research is to tell the stories of the textile mills and their changes. Some of the history behind Georgia’s industrial architecture can be surprising. As an example, Steven cites the case of Jefferson Mills in Jackson County. First built in 1899 as a typical textile mill, Jefferson Mills underwent an expansion in 1966 and built a completely separate structure designed to improve manufacturing capability. In a reflection of post-WWII efforts to maximize space in mills, the building employed suspension trusses along the same lines as those used to build the Georgia Dome and suspension bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge. The use of suspension trusses ensured that the building would need no internal supports and resulted in its distinctive appearance.

To follow Steven's bi-weekly updates on his research, visit the Georgia Trust blog.


New Harmonies
The Center for Public History is once again assisting the Georgia Humanities Council with the tour of a Smithsonian Museum on Main Street exhibit. New Harmonies, a traveling exhibit about American roots music, will be arriving in Georgia in April 2012, and Dr. Ann McCleary, Center for Public History Director, is the state scholar for the exhibit.


The Center has created a project team consisting of McCleary; Bobby Moore, a public history graduate research assistant; Angie Ramirez, a graduate intern researching Hispanic music in Georgia; and Mollie Marlow, an undergraduate research assistant. The team will work with an Advisory Committee of scholars from around the state. 

The Center is already busy at work on this project. Our first main project is to create the content for a special issue of the Georgia Music magazine that will double as a statewide catalog for the exhibit. This issue will showcase Georgia’s roots music from its early history through the present day. The magazine will be developed with Georgia Music editor Lisa Love from the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
The second goal is to create a website full of resources related to Georgia roots music, including short essays, articles, and photographs of the various genres in Georgia; a bibliography of sources such as books and documentaries; a discography of Georgia roots music; and a list of festivals and historic sites and museums that highlight this history.

We hope that these resources will help Georgians enjoy a year-long celebration of Georgia music as the exhibit tours to small communities around the State.

To become involved in this exciting new project, please contact Dr. Ann McCleary at mailto:ammclear@westga.edu. For more information on New Harmonies, please visit the Smithsonian exhibit website. To learn more about the Georgia Humanities Council and this Museum on Main Street tour, please visit the GHC website.

Exploring Atlanta’s African-American History


As students in the Public History program at the University of West Georgia, graduate research assistants at the Center for Public History have the opportunity to develop their skills as historians and professionals through a wide range of internships. In the summer of 2010, Center GRA Dusty Marie Dye completed an internship at Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery. Founded as a public cemetery in 1850, Oakland is an outstanding example of the Victorian rural cemetery movement and serves as the final resting place of over 70,000 Atlantans. As part of its effort to highlight the cemetery’s historic value, the Historic Oakland Foundation has embarked on a project to launch an outdoor exhibit and a series of self-guided cell phone tours that focus on Oakland’s many connections to Atlanta’s past. With the support of a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Ford Foundation in addition to a donation from a member of the Historic Oakland Foundation, the first phase of the project began in 2009 with the African American Burial Ground Interpretative Project. In addition to conducting research and developing text for forthcoming exhibit panels, Dusty assisted with the testing phases of the cell phone tour that will guide visitors through the African American section of the cemetery, which served as a burial ground for Atlanta’s African American community until the end of public segregation in 1963. On September 1, Dr. Ann McCleary, Dr. Cita Cook, and students from the public history program participated in a focus group for the new tour, which will be launched along with the accompanying exhibit panels on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2011. Oakland’s traditional fall events include Sunday in the Park (October 3) and their popular Halloween Tours (October 22-24). For more information about Oakland, its history, and special events, visit http://www.oaklandcemetery.com/.


Center for Public History completes Villa Rica's Architectural Survey


The Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia has completed an architectural survey for the City of Villa Rica and its Historic Preservation Commission.

In the summer of 2009, the Center embarked on this project to document and record the buildings included in its six historic districts. Graduate students Shanda Davidson, Steven Eubanks, and Holly Lane along with Center director Dr. Ann McCleary spent much of the summer combing through the city's historic neighborhoods, photographing and recording over 600 buildings.

During the fall and spring semesters, Davidson and McCleary reviewed the survey information and revised the historic district boundaries based on the historical and architectural information gathered during the survey. Shanda Davidson, who has completed this Villa Rica survey report as her graduate thesis project, completed all the final survey reports, organized and labeled all of the more than 2000 photographs taken for the project, and wrote descriptions of the streets that incorporated historical information taken from the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps.

Davidson and McCleary presented copies of the final survey report to the Villa Rica City Council at its July 6 meeting.

In the fall semester, Davidson and McCleary will begin work on phase II of the survey, which includes preparation of design review guidelines for the downtown commercial district and a reconnaissance survey to identify other historic buildings within the City limits.

For her graduate thesis essay to complete her graduate degree at UWG, Davidson will be writing an essay on one of the most popular buildings types in the City, the "New South Cottage." In this work, she will draw extensively on the architectural survey as well as other primary records she has uncovered for Villa Rica's history.

Bremen History Day

Students enrolled in public history courses at the University of West Georgia routinely carry their expertise outside of the campus and into neighboring communities. On June 23, students enrolled in Dr. Keith
S. Hebert's State and Local history class helped the City of Bremen conduct its first Bremen History Day program. The city is developing a museum that will document Bremen's rich history. The Bremen History Day program encouraged local residents to bring their historic photographs and documents that related to the city's history to Sewell Mill to be professionally scanned by UWG students and faculty. The event helped the museum collect additional documents that can be used in upcoming exhibits and programs. UWG students Meghan Donahue, Mary Walker, and James Robinson used the skills they have acquired in class to identify, document, and scan a wide array of historic documents. Bremen-resident William Nails's collection was the highlight of the event. In 1961, he served aboard the U.S.S. Lake Champlain on a mission to recover Alan Shephard's Mercury space capsule--the first manned American space flight. Nails's collection contains an assortment of photographs taken during that historic mission including images of Shephard and the recovered capsule. Events such as Bremen History Day are just another example of public history students and faculty working with local partners to expand our understanding of the past.


Villa Rica Architectural Survey

In May 2009, the City of Villa Rica commissioned the Center for Public History to conduct an architectural survey of its six local historic districts. During that summer, Shanda Davidson, Steven Eubanks, Holly Lane, and Dr. Ann McCleary conducted the survey, collecting descriptions, taking photographs of the buildings, and talking with local residents, as time allowed. 

Over the past two semesters, Shanda Davidson has been engaged in transforming these survey forms into a formal survey report for the City. She has reviewed all of the survey data, completed the forms for almost six hundred historic buildings and related outbuildings, reviewed tax records for all of these properties, and organized and labeled over two thousand photos of Villa Rica’s historic architecture. In addition, the Center has recommended changes to the historic district boundaries, based on the survey results.

On Wednesday, April 14, Shanda and Dr. Ann McCleary met with the City’s Historic Preservation Commission to report on the status of the project. In her presentation, Shanda emphasized the defining characteristics of historic buildings and the ways in which individuals and organizations can preserve the historical integrity of their properties.

The final report will be completed and presented to the Historic Preservation Commission in early June. Officials of the City of Villa Rica hope to use this report to develop design review guidelines that will assist them in preserving the City’s important architectural heritage.

Service and Scholarship
The Theodore B. Fitz-Simons award is presented annually by the history department at the University of West Georgia to recognize an undergraduate or graduate history student who maintains an outstanding academic record and demonstrates excellence in the field of public history through scholarship and service activities. This year, Carla Ledgerwood received the Fitz-Simons award for her work documenting and interpreting the Williams Farm in Villa Rica, Georgia. Ledgerwood’s thesis project focused on producing interpretative plan for the site, which encompasses a 1890s farm house and a Civilian Conservation Corps camp from the 1930s. The accompanying thesis essay, entitled “Enterprising Family: A History of the Williams Family of Goldworth Farm, Villa Rica, Georgia,” traces the history of the property’s owners and is intended to be used as a resource to develop visitor tours.


Carla Ledgerwood’s work is part of continuing collaboration between students and staff of the public history program and the owner of the Williams Farm, Dr. William Mitchell. This semester, two graduate research assistants, Matt Harris and Jennifer Teeter, are in the process of creating an inventory of the objects and furnishings in the farm house. Their documentation will assist with future efforts to preserve and interpret the Williams Farm as an important part of the history of West Georgia. For more information about work at the Williams Farm, click here.


Making the Connection


On February 19, graduate students from the Center for Public History conducted a workshop entitled "Making the Connection: The Importance of an Global Perspective in Local History Programs" at the Georgia Association of Historians' annual conference in Decatur, Georgia. Using the Center's work on local history projects in Bremen, Georgia, as a case study, Dusty Dye, Eve Copeland, Steven Eubanks, and Meghan Donahue stressed the role of historians in helping communities make connections between local pasts and national and international history. Each of the students discussed the advantages and challenges of different aspects of working with commuities, includng conducting oral histories, working with school systems, working with local government, and utilizing student workers. Mayor Sharon Sewell of Bremen also appeared on the panel to share the perspective of community members who work with historians to preserve and present local pasts.


Music From the Heart
Shape note singing is one of Georgia’s enduring sacred music traditions. While many are familiar with the “Sacred Harp” style of shape note singing, few realize that separate, vibrant tradition exists among African American communities. As part of the Center for Public History’s Regional Music Project, students and staff at the University of West Georgia are working to document this distinctive style of singing and to share it with new audiences.


In January, Graduate Research Assistant Dusty Dye, intern Sasha Davis, and volunteer Jihan Bradford met with The United Shape Note Singers in the home of their president, Ray Backers. In an afternoon interview, members from throughout the west Georgia region shared their memories and love for shape note singing, recalling the importance of note singing to generations past and the continuing joy that the tradition brings to both singers and audiences today.

In the spring of 2010, the Center for Public History will produce a new album to add to the collection of recordings generated by the Regional Music Project. The CD will feature African American shape note singing from the United Shape Note Singers and other groups in the state. The Center will also sponsor a workshop at the University of West Georgia at which campus and community singing groups will have the opportunity to enjoy a performance of shape note singing and learn about the history and importance of this distinctive musical tradition.
To learn more about the Regional Music Project, click here.

Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries Recognizes Work for “Key Ingredients: America By Food”
On January 22, the Center and the Georgia Humanities Council received an award from the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries for "Special Projects" in recognition of the work towards the two-year statewide tour of the Smithsonian exhibit "Key Ingredients: America by Food." This exhibit is part of the Museum on Main Street program, which brings Smithsonian exhibits to small towns throughout the country.


The Center's work on the project involved extensive collaboration between faculty and students at the Center, a hallmark of the University of West Georgia's mission towards faculty-student research. Dr. Ann McCleary, Director of the Center for Public History and professor of history, served as state scholar for the project. Working with history graduate students Kristina Hartmann Ferguson and Katherine Hicks, McCleary traveled to all twelve exhibit sites, conducted oral histories with over one hundred residents of those communities, and compiled a catalog of Georgia foodways. This catalog, "Food, Family and Community: A Collection of Georgia Memories", is available at the exhibit sites and through the Center for Public History and the Georgia Humanities Council.

In addition to the catalog, McCleary, Ferguson, and Hicks presented training sessions for the exhibit sites on creating educational programs and local exhibits, developed podcasts using the oral histories, and archived the results of the oral histories and project fieldwork for the project at the Center for Public History. The podcasts are currently available on the Smithsonian website at http://www.museumonmainstreet.org/.

The Center's outreach into the community reflects West Georgia's commitment to civic engagement and the Center for Public History's mission to documenting, preserving, and presenting the history and culture of the West Georgia region. "Key Ingredients" is the first statewide project for the Center, but more are planned in upcoming years. Already, the Center is beginning to assist the Georgia Humanities Council with another Smithsonian exhibit coming to Georgia in 2012. Entitled "New Harmonies," the exibit will focus on American "roots" music.

Supporting West Georgia’s Teachers


The Center for Public History is proud to provide a variety of resources for educators in the west Georgia region. On January 11, Graduate Research Assistant Meghan Donahue traveled to Bremen Middle School to share information about the Center’s services with teachers. In addition to distributing brochures about the Center, Meghan displayed a traveling trunk filled with materials designed to supplement instruction about World War II. Teachers at Bremen Middle School also received an introduction to the Center’s teacher resources website, which includes a section of documents and activities to help teachers incorporate local history in lessons. Made available through a grant from the Georgia Humanities Council, these online materials can be used by teachers throughout the region and provide an excellent way to engage students and encourage them to make connections between classroom lessons and community history.

To access the Center’s teacher resources page, click here.