The graduate students in the Fall 2009 Introduction to Public History Class gained valuable experience in the practice of Public History by working on projects for the city of Bremen, Georgia. On December 10, 2009, the class presented their final products to Mayor Sharon Sewell and Neile Chambers, the Better Hometown Manager for the city. The students’ projects included an outline for a walking tour of downtown Bremen, a temporary exhibit, materials for a traveling trunk about the city’s history, a guide to developing a volunteer program, and a marketing plan for the future Bremen History Center. The temporary exhibit is currently on display at the Warren P. Sewell Memorial Library and the other resources provided by the class are designed to assist the citizens of Bremen as they work to preserve and present the rich history of their community.
Bringing History to Georgia Communities
The faculty and staff at the Center for Public History take pride in sharing their work and research with the community. On November 19, 2009, Dr. Keith Hebert, the Center’s Assistant Director, visited Dalton State College to kick-off the Bandy Heritage Center’s Civil War lecture series. Dr. Hebert’s lecture, “From Reluctant Confederates to Boisterous Rebels: Bartow County and Northwest Georgia During the Secession Crisis,” looked at the way that people in northwest Georgia reacted to the deeply divisive issue of secession in 1860-1861.
The traveling exhibits produced by the Center are also displayed in communities throughout Georgia. One exhibit, entitled “Powder Springs Has Some Deep Roots In It,” looks at the history of the African American community in Powder Springs. It was featured at the NAACP’s centennial celebration in Cobb County on November 15. Another of the Center’s exhibits, “It Was Passed Down from Generation to Generation: Baking Traditions in the West Georgia Piedmont,” is travelling with the Smithsonian’s “Key Ingredients” exhibit and is currently being displayed in Indian Springs, Georgia.
In 2009, the Center for Public History received two awards for excellence in archival program development from the Georgia Archives.
For one project, the Center partnered with the City of Powder Springs, Seven Springs Museum, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration document the history of an African American neighborhood known as "The Hill and The Flat." Researchers conducted conduct oral histories and other fieldwork that led to the creation of an archival collection housed at the University of West Georgia, a traveling exhibit, and a history publication to bring the research to both academic and public audiences interested in African American and southern history.
Another project, undertaken in partnership with the Georgia Humanities Council, was launched in conjunction with the tour of the Smithsonian travelling exhibit "Key Ingredients: America by Food." Center staff visited twelve rural communities that hosted the exhibit and interviewed over 100 informants, collecting approximately 150 hours of oral history interviews as well as historic and contemporary photographs and recipies. These interviews and photographs are housed in an archival collection at the University of West Georgia that is available for researchers and public programs.
West Georgia student Catherine Hendricks was also recognized by the Georgia Archives with the 2009 Award for Excellence in Student Research Using Historical Records at the graduate level. Her thesis, "Creating Community in the Jim Crow South," provides a case study of how African American communities evolved in small Georgia towns during the late Jim Crow era, demonstrating how African Americans were able to create and find community and sustain themselves in the face of increasing restrictions.
Treasured objects and artifacts in the community and held by the Center for Public History will be preserved for future generations with help from the Institute of Museum and Library Services “Connecting to Collections Bookshelf,” a core set of conservation books and online resources donated by the IMLS.
The Center for Public History received the set of resources based on a grant application written by former acting assistant director Sandy Pollard. IMLS has now awarded almost 3,000 free sets of the IMLS Bookshelf, in cooperation with the American Association for State and Local History.
The Bookshelf provides support and direction for a wide variety of collections from historic photographs and archival materials that might be saved for family history to artifacts ranging from furniture to glass or ceramics.
For more about the "Connecting to Collections Bookshelf," click here.