Georgia's Political Heritage Program
Georgia's Political Heritage Program is a collection of oral history interviews with prominent current and former Georgia political figures representing political history since World War II. Begun in 1984 by Dr. Mel Steely, Professor Emeritus of the UWG History Department, GPHP captures the memory of Georgia's political leaders as they relate their roles in the context of state and national politics. It is available on the Digital Library of Georgia at: http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/CollectionsA-Z/phc_search.html
It had its roots in a meeting that took place between Newt Gingrich, who had made the first deposit of his own papers at UWG, and Herman Talmadge in the early 1980s. Gingrich suggested the University of West Georgia (known as West Georgia College at the time), as a repository for Talmadge’s oral history. Professor Steely brought the idea to UWG President Maurice Townsend, who agreed to provide initial funding of $5,000.
The first interview with Talmadge took place in 1984. Over the next ten years, Steely along with Ted Fitz-Simons, Don Wagner, and the help of the UWG TV studio recorded seventy-two hours with former Gov. Talmadge. Out of these early interviews was born the idea to capture a valuable but disappearing historical resource, the memories of Georgia’s political leaders as they recounted their role in state, regional, and national political history. In addition to Georgia politics, interview topics included civil rights, segregation, the Vietnam War, and presidential elections.
Over the next twenty years, GPHP conducted interviews with more than eighty political figures. Included are all the former governors of the state since World War II, with the exceptions of M.E. Thomson and Marvin Griffin, who were deceased prior to the program’s start. Also included are U.S. congressmen, lieutenant governors, and state legislators. The finding aid for the collection is available at: http://libguides.westga.edu/content.php?pid=33218&sid=272238&search_terms=special+collections. Pictured above are former Congressman Bob Barr and Dr. Mel Steely at the reception to mark the opening of Barr's papers.