May 2002 to May 2004, Teresa Beyer
was the Graduate Research Assistant for the Banning Mill Documentation Project.
She continued to build on the foundation of research compiled by former graduate
students since 1999. Her primary duties consisted of oral interviews and photo-documentation,
along with primary and secondary source research. Click
here for a full Project Description.
Teresa recently finished her theses paper, entitled: From Farm to Factory: Transitions in Work, Gender, and Leisure at Banning Mill, 1910-1930. She graduated in May with a M.A. in Public History/Museum studies. Interested in employing Teresa? See her resume below:
To work in a productive, team driven environment and assist in the creation of educational and uplifting museum collections, exhibits, and programs.
June 2002-May 2004
Center for Public History, Carrollton, GA
Graduate Research Assistant/Project Director
• Conducted and transcribed oral histories, managed collection, maintained and added to the archives, supervised two undergraduates, served as in-house photographer and web master, conducted research with both primary and secondary sources.
• Presented research about Banning at the 2003 Oral Historians Association in Washington, D.C.
Summer 2003 Ashland
County Historical Society and Museum, Ashland, OH
• Documented a historic home using Past Perfect.
• Inventoried and processed collection, employed basic preservation techniques, developed a system to efficiently accept, refuse, or return donations, assessed the overall condition of artifacts, and compiled an affective collection’s policy.
2003 Atlanta History Center, Buckhead, GA
• Researched and presented ideas for the reinstallation of the AHC’s oldest exhibit, Metropolitan Frontiers: Atlanta, 1835-2000
• Developed adult and family educational programs for the upcoming V for Victory: Georgia Remembers World War II exhibit.
• Developed a staffing plan and marketing strategy for a partner museum.
• Researched and wrote a foundation proposal for the upcoming Connor Brown Discovery Trail and Hartramphf Cabin.
State Creek Park, Lithia Springs, GA
• Assist in the organization of March for Parks fundraiser.
• Assistant to in-house photographer and web master.
• Assist in the organization of Native American Festival.
June 2002-May 2004 State University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA
• M.A., Public History
• Current GPA: 3.91
August 1997-May 2001 Piedmont College, Demorest, GA
• B.A., History
• Minors in English and Photography
• GPA in major field: 4.0
U.S. 1880-1920/Gilded Age, The New South, American Folklife, Introduction
to Public History, Historiography, American Media and the Public, Archival
Theory/Practice, Southern Families and Communities, Material Culture, History
of Popular Culture, Public History Internship, Exhibits at Museums and Historic
Sites*, Education and Interpretation*, Administration of Historic Sites and
*Taken in conjunction with the Atlanta History Center.
Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe Photoshop, Past Perfect, Dreamweaver, 35 mm and digital photography.
Dr. Ann McCleary, Associate Professor
of History and Center Director
Dr. Steve Goodson, Associate Professor of History
Dr. Rebecca Bailey, Associate Professor of History
Department of History, State University of West Georgia, 770.836.6508
Thanks to support from Banning Mill Enterprises and research compiled by the Center for Public History, I was able to develop an online exhibit detailing the history of Banning Mill and the surrounding community. While it has been the objective of Banning Mill Enterprises to document the mill and research its history, this would not be possible without the aid offered by the Center. “The Center for Public History researches, documents, preserves, and promotes public discussion of the history and cultural, architectural, and folklife resources of the broader west Georgia region.” The Center for Public History is located on the campus of the State University of West Georgia and continues to provide valuable archival storage space, Graduate Research Assistants, technical equipment, community contacts, educational and scholarly support for the Banning Mill Documentation Project.
This project was undertaken in the hopes of educating the broader public about the history of Banning Mill and its’ archival collection. I hope the online exhibit will increase business for Banning Mill Enterprises, serve as an aid to professors teaching Georgia history, and bring more researchers into the Center’s archives.
Work on the website began in January 2004, but research for the site is ongoing. I was employed by the Center in May of 2002 and continued to build on research gathered from two previous Graduate Research Assistants. Because the history is extensive and covers approximately hundred and sixty five years, I picked up where previous researchers others left off. Although the accompanying thesis covers the decades between 1910 and 1930, information on the web site covers the entire history off the mill from 1834 to 1999.
Research had to be gathered, holes needed to be filled, and text had to be composed before construction on the web site could begin. I worked with undergraduates to transcribe oral histories and consulted previous employees in this endeavor. Yet, the nature of the project dictated that myself alone, do most of the research and compose all of text, layout, and design for the site.
During the project, I inventoried and added to the archival collection. I also digitized all of the historic and contemporary photographs for posterity, use on the web site, and future researchers. I conducted original and follow-up interviews, gathered documents leading to information about churches in the mill community, made new contacts with former residents, compiled an extensive timeline with the use of primary sources (newspapers, interviews, census data, etc), and transcribed the 1910, 1920, and 1930s census records the Banning community. One of my proudest accomplishments was the project's first interview of an African American employee of Banning’s saw mill.
For the web site specifically, I created new charts detailing family histories and specific data pulled from census reports. Four families were chosen to represent typical mill village residents. Their personal history was told with the aid of oral histories, photographs, newspaper excerpts, and census data. Text was compiled and interwoven with photographs to appeal visitors’ visual needs. To lend additional visual stimuli to the site, I included scanned copies of Sanborn Insurance and hand drawn maps. These aids were chosen to help visitors interpret both the cotton mill and the wider community. Links were inserted into the maps which give visitors more information about Banning Mill, the five additional mills, and two mill churches. These maps were digitized solely for use on the web site.
In addition to scholarly research, composition, and design, I consulted Dreamweaver manuals and graphic designers in her pursuit for a simple, yet dynamic web site. Having no previous experience in the field, the I went through the slow and painful process of self-taught education. In the end, the “learn-as-you-go” approach allowed me a greater feeling of accomplishment and pride.
Taking this into consideration, one might suggest the web site utilize more graphics, animation, and interactive options in the future. Considerably a major weakness, it cannot compete with educational and museum institutions which employee full-time, experienced graphic designers and webmasters. On the other hand, its simplicity allows visitors of all ages to “surf” with ease. Former mill hands who do own computers (a major component of the target audience) usually lack the skills to appreciate or utilize the “high tech” or “fancy” options available on the World Wide Web. Because of this, the site's simplicity is one of its strongest assets.
I do regret the sites lack of audio options. If the web site is continued, it is hoped future Directors will take the opportunity to transfer excerpts of oral histories into sound waves which visitors can then download and enjoy.
Overall, the web site contributes to both the Center for Public History and Banning Mill Enterprises in that it builds support from the community, fosters name recognition, and serves as an advertisement for the mill and its sponsoring institutions. Teachers, students, and historians who find the Banning Mill exhibit online either through search engines, word of mouth, or the Center’s brochures will begin to associate the Center and B.M.E. with excellence in education, historic preservation, and community outreach. The web site also parallels the benefits of a museum exhibit; educating the public, raising new questions, and honoring those who contributed to the mill’s success. (Plus it is free and open twenty-four hours a day!) The web site allows the Center and B.M.E. to bring history to the masses in a media that is easy to maintain, cost effective, and readily available to large audiences.
I would have been unable to complete this project without the knowledge I gained from my public history classes. Especially helpful were the Education and Interpretation and Exhibits and Design classes taken in conjunction with the Atlanta History Center. These two classes taught me effective ways to present history to the public. I discovered the importance of designing an exhibit so that it would speak to a variety of learning styles, would be easy to read and navigate, and appeal to both children and adults. In the development stage, I remembered the importance of focus groups and evaluations and sought feedback and suggestions about the web site from my colleagues. From label writing exercises in the Exhibits class, I knew to avoid unfamiliar phrases and summarize scholarly theories. I also understood the font and color on a label must be easy to read in low light and strove to apply these practices to the web site. In developing an aid for Georgia History teachers, I applied what I had learned in my Education and Interpretation class. I knew the web site should fulfill Georgia’s Quality Core Curriculum and be easily accessible to both professors and their students.
Although the Education and Exhibit class had the largest impact on the construction of the web site, I would not have been able to accomplish the research it required without the knowledge and skills I developed in the Southern Families and Communities and Folklore and Folklife classes. These classes taught me the importance of utilizing and analyzing primary sources such as oral histories, census records, newspapers, diaries, photographs, and court records (to name a few). Without the knowledge gained from these two classes, I would not have been able to thoughtfully digest or interpret the many sources utilized in the development of the project.
The web site meets professional public history standards because it relies on both primary and secondary sources. Online visitors can access Banning Mill’s Archival Finding Aid, Inventory, and Oral History Collection, along with the project’s Bibliography. These extensive lists allow visitors to view the large variety of resources used to create the exhibit. Although text on the site does not include footnotes or endnotes, visitors are made aware of sources with qualifying phrases like, “The excerpt below comes from… or John Doe said….” Charts and graphs are also labeled while identifying text appears under photographs. “Student Researchers” and “Meet the Author” links under the “Research” drop-down-menu inform visitors of the qualifications and education of the webmaster and contributing scholars. Although this type of documentation does not coincide with the guidelines set forth in the Chicago Manual of Style, it allows visitors to trust the web site and information provided within. Because the project utilizes a variety of primary and secondary sources, along with contributing research by professional scholars, it is a reliable tool for students, historians, teachers, and those wishing to invest in Banning Mill’s future.