Never-Never Bland: Another Fun, Fully-Immersive Georgia Archives Month Program Wraps up at Georgia Southern

Submitted by Autumn Johnson, Special Collections Librarian, Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University’s Special Collections recently wrapped up their Georgia Archives Month program, Bland’s Botanical Bequest: An Escape Game for Georgia Archives. This was the third and most successful game-based instructional program the unit has organized over the past few years that highlights the unique resources offered on their campus. The program builds upon the success of their 2019 Secrets, Sources, and Swamp face-to-face escape room and 2021 semi-virtual Case of the College Sweetheart mystery experience. This year, Special Collections took the escape game concept outside of the library and partnered with Georgia Southern’s Botanic Gardens. The program was held in the Botanic Gardens’ historic Bland Cottage, the 1920s homestead of Daniel and Catherine Bland, who donated the cottage and land to the University in the 1980s.

The game, similar to commercially available escape games, placed players together in a situational enviroment where they must solve a series puzzles and clues in order to solve the task at hand. Specifically, players in this game were given 45-minutes to find the Last Will & Testament of Daniel “Dan” Bland, who upon his passing in 1985, bequeathed his estate to the University.

The Bland cottage was transformed back into the 1980s and reflected the wide interests and hobbies of the Bland family. Many of the clues and puzzles encountered throughout the game were based on actual materials belonging to Dan and Catherine Bland including photographs, a hand-drawn map, herbarium press book, historic newspaper articles, and even an oral history recording. Many of these were rediscovered in Special Collections when Gardens staff began to conduct research for an upcoming exhibition!

By encountering these first-hand accounts and original materials from Special Collections, our players were able to piece together the lives of Dan and Catherine Bland, two citizen scientists who contributed greatly to Georgia Southern and the local community. They discovered the Bland family and their vision to inspire generations of lifelong learner through community gardens while learning more about the breadth and depth of resources available to them from Special Collections.

This program was the most successful to date with over 230 participants during the short-run. The program was made available through generous funding from the 2022 Georgia Archives Month Spotlight on Archives Grant. There will be an encore run of the program in Spring 2023 based on unprecedented demand from both University and greater communities!

More information about the program can be found at www.georgiasouthern.libguides.com/archivesmonth or by contacting Special Collections Librarian, Autumn Johnson at autumnjohnson@georgiasouthern.edu.

To learn more about Georgia Archives Month see SGA’s website.

SGA’s President Reflects on our Annual Meeting Theme

Submitted by 2022 SGA President Cathy Miller

This year’s annual meeting theme, Sustaining Archives: Practical Solutions for the Future, in my mind, speaks to not only what we have done to sustain the work of our archives, but the work we have done over the last three years to sustain ourselves. During the meeting, specifically in our keynote and in one of the planned sessions, the importance of self-care was emphasized. And boy howdy, can I say what an advocate I have become for self-care in these times. 2022, which is really just 2020 dressed as two kids in a trenchcoat, has been a year, to say the least. There’s been good, sure, but also, to put it plainly, there’s been a lot of suckitude. I hope that everyone who attended the meeting took away many learning moments regarding the work they do, but I also hope that attendees may have taken away new leases on life – I know, that’s a tall order, but bear with me a moment. Maybe you met a colleague at the meeting who plays Animal Crossing as religiously as you do, and before you know it, you are Switch friends and visiting each other’s islands and conspiring about how to take Tom Nook’s empire down. Or you found someone who shares the same hobby as you and you are able to trade ideas. Or you made a colleague who lives near you and now you have a new friend to go grab coffee or food with. In leaving the annual meeting, I hope you were able to take away something that sustains you as the person you are, not the archivist/librarian/information professional that you are.

SGA Keynote Address at the 2022 Annual Meeting

We have a lot of vocational awe in our profession. We are either told by someone or we tell ourselves that we are so lucky to be working in this field and getting to do the things we do, thus we’ll let slide the often poor pay, lax benefits, and multitude of other black marks that our profession is guilty of. I am here to say that while the work we do is awesome and important, the work will never love you back. So please, sustain yourself, however that is, be it treating yourself to a yummy food or drink treat on the drive home from work or going to the dollar spot in Target to see what new and exciting things await you. I’ve been reading T.J. Klune’s Under the Whispering Door – the premise of the novel is that Wallace, a workaholic lawyer, has died and he is given one week to get his afterlife in order and cross over to the great beyond. Wallace decides to embrace living a lifetime in those seven days. Let’s not be like Wallace. Live your life in the present. Leave work promptly at your 7 or 8 hour mark. Go enjoy being you with the people and pets that matter most to you in life.

SGA Scholarship Winner attends Georgia Archives Institute

Submitted by Camilla Stegall

Hello! My name is Camilla Stegall. I am honored to be the 2022 recipient of the Carroll Hart Scholarship to attend the Georgia Archives Institute.

First, a little about myself. I am 2022 graduate from Kennesaw State University (KSU). I was encouraged by Dr. Jennifer Dickey, the Public History Coordinator at KSU, to apply for the Institute. During my time at KSU, I developed strong relationships with the archivists and had heard about the Society of Georgia Archivists. (It was through them that I learned about SGA and applied for and presented in the Student Research Showcase at the SGA 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.) I am thankful for the opportunity to attend the Institute as I go on to attend the MSLIS online Leep program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the fall.

Now to the Institute. The first six days were filled with instruction on foundational archival concepts, including appraisal, arrangement and description, preservation (physical and digital!), reference, copyright, and outreach. Everything that you need to “identify, preserve, and make available” archival materials. Pam Hackbart-Dean, Tina Mason Seetoo, and Katherine Fisher were wonderful primary instructors whose years of experience are evident in their instruction—from their lectures to their class activities to get us thinking about how we would approach challenges and daily tasks in archives. 

As mentioned, the lectures were interlaced with group activities and case studies. This was fantastic for me as I am a “hands-on learner!”  In these groups, I also learned from my peers. The twenty of us in the cohort came from a variety of backgrounds and locations. I met a community archivist and a university archivist both from California, an English professor from Alabama, a library associate from Missouri, and an archives volunteer from Atlanta along with several fellow early career archivists from Metro Atlanta. The opportunity to visit and work on assignments with members of my cohort with such a wide array of knowledge and experience was fascinating and eye-opening into how different institutions and individuals approach their work.

Additionally, we listened to guest speakers about topics on archival projects and organizations. The guest speakers for 2022 were Tamika Strong of the Georgia Archives about her work creating a community archives of African American funeral programs, Morna Gerrard of Georgia State University (GSU) about GSU’s Women’s / Gender & Sexuality Collections and projects, SGA President Cathy Miller about SGA and the benefits of it and similar organizations, and Joshua Kitchens about Clayton State University’s Master of Archival Studies program and The Academy of Certified Archivists and how to take part in them. These guest speakers contributed to the Institute by showing us poignant examples of individual and institutional projects that benefit communities by preserving and telling their stories. The overview of the archival organizations and professional development on the last day was a great way to end by providing us possible “next steps” as GAI alumni.

2022 was the first time the Institute has been in-person since the pandemic began. As such, we had several educational excursions during our two weeks. The cohort toured the Georgia Archives and learned about its history; on another day we visited the Georgia Archives Conservation Lab, where we met the conservators and watched demonstrations; and, we also toured the GSU Special Collections and Archives before we attended the GAI Reception. At the reception, we had a lovely evening as we mingled with the GAI Board, our internship supervisors, and amongst ourselves. 

Week 2 centered on our three-day internships at sites around Metro Atlanta. I, along with two other attendees, interned at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. Our supervisor was Laura Starratt, the Senior Collections Archivist. For our project, we worked with one of Emory’s star collections, the David R. Scott and Anne Lurton Scott papers. David Scott is a retired astronaut and the seventh man to walk on the moon. The collection consisted of materials relating to Scott’s missions and Anne Lurton Scott’s experience as an “astronaut wife.” We processed the printed materials, correspondence, and photographs in the collection (all the while geeking out about NASA). The three of us are honored to have worked on this collection and to make it more accessible to students and researchers. Additionally, during our time at Emory, we toured their conservation lab and archives. We also met with many members of the archives staff and learned about what they do. As I am exploring what facet of archives I want to pursue, I appreciate the time that they spent with us. 

Overall, I am grateful for the amazing learning experience that I had during my two weeks at the Georgia Archives Institute. It provided me with a firm foundation of knowledge and insight into the field of archives as I take my next steps to becoming a full-fledged “Georgia Archivist!” Thank you for your support in this endeavor! 

SGA Members tour the Bartow History and Booth Western Museums

Submitted by Marion Hudson

We had a good turnout for our SGA membership outing in August. The Booth Western Art Museum and the Bartow History Museum hosted some wonderful tours to 11 of our members.

The first tour included a behind the scenes look into the Bartow History Archives, recently named for the Mulinix Family of Bartow County. Our guide, Trey Gaines, then took us over to the Bartow History Museum and discussed the history of the building. The group had time to explore the temporary exhibit of It’s All Fun & Games: Iconic Toys of the Past and the permanent collection on the upper floor.

A docent led highlights tour at the Booth Western Art Museum covered many of the museum’s permanent and loaned collection. Pat, a long time docent at the Booth, led a great tour full of interesting history and facts about art and artists housed at the Booth. A horse created from recycled materials, “Walking Horse” by Leo Sewell, was a great talking piece among the group! The piece is created from repurposed metals.

Walking Horse by Leo Sewell

After the docent tour, Marion Hudson, gave the group a look at the Booth Research Library. Marion has been the librarian/archivist for the Booth since 2020. Many of the SGA members enjoyed lunch in the Booth Café with its wonderful view of the Bartow History Museum, which is housed in the historical courthouse. 

We thank the Booth Western Art Museum and the Bartow History Museum for their hospitality. For more information on the Booth Western Art Museum and the Bartow History Museum visit the websites below. Both are sister museums to the Tellus Science Museum and Savoy Automobile Museum; all are part of Georgia Museums, Inc.

See their websites at www.boothmuseum.org and www.bartowhistorymuseum.org.

Archives Night at the Fox Theatre

Submitted by Leigh Burns, Director Fox Theatre Institute

The Fox Theatre, in partnership with Atlanta History Center (AHC), hosted our first Archives Night here at the Fox Theatre on Thursday, June 16th. The evening was planned originally for 2020, then later revived in 2022, with the support of our colleagues at AHC. We had more than one hundred attend the event with members from both AHC and our Friends of the Fox. We were thrilled by the enthusiasm for the event and the attendance exceeded our expectations.

Beyond collaborating with AHC staff on the event, we also enjoyed hosting many of their devoted members here to discover our own Fox Theatre archival collections. The special event gave our guests an opportunity to discover firsthand dozens of artifacts, many for the first time, from the Fox’s archives by rotating presentations from three archival experts. Our experts included Paul Crater, Debra Freer, and Josh Kitchens. These individuals have worked in our archives in different capacities throughout the years and have exceptional archival experience. In their individual, rotating presentations, each highlighted some the Fox’s original furniture, lighting, artwork, movie and show posters, and our 1970s Save the Fox campaign memorabilia. Before the rotating presentations began, Paul Crater gave an informative and enjoyable opening address. Paul’s personal interest in our own collections and his devotion to preserving Atlanta history is admirable. We are so grateful that Paul helped us lead this first-time effort. Well beyond that evening, Paul continues to support all our archives through consulting as needed.

The Fox Theatre Archives is located onsite here at the Fox Theatre. Our archives space was formally integrated into the Restoration department of the Fox Theatre in 1996. Following the 1996 fire that began in the adjoining restaurant, our Fox Theatre leadership established a permanent, climate-controlled designated area for our irreplaceable items. The archives were built out of a previous administrative area and established to protect the various artifacts important to legacy of the theatre. Beyond thousands of paper artifacts, our collections within our “living museum” includes historic furniture, historic lighting, our Moller “Mighty Mo” organ, and other artwork including architectural features. The Fox Theatre funds the ongoing care of the collections through a restoration fee added to all ticketed, public events. Every time one of our patrons join us at the Fox, they are contributing financially to the care of our collections, including our Fox Theatre archives. In addition to the physical objects, we maintain our collection electronically through the Access to Memory database. The database was implemented in 2018 and we use this to assist with external and internal requests from the public and staff as needed. We maintain architectural drawings, historical photographs and other historical documents that support the work of our marketing and facilities and restoration team members.

We look forward to hosting additional public events relating to our Archives and we hope potentially another Archives Night in early 2023. We are grateful for the support of many archivists from the metro-Atlanta area for attending this first special event. For more information about the history of the Fox Theatre please feel free to visit our website at https://www.foxtheatre.org/about/fox-historystory

For questions about the archives please feel free to reach out to me at leigh.burns@foxtheatre.org

VSU Indexing the Equal Rights Magazine

Submitted by Douglas R. Carlson, Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections

The Valdosta State University Odum Library Archives and Special Collections acquired a run of the Equal Rights magazine published from the 1920’s – 50’s when the National Women’s Party (NWP) disposed of its surplus. The magazine covers four decades of worldwide women’s issues. The NWP publication highlights then current events in the areas of fair representation, voting and the fight for equal rights. The magazine has been a key addition to our collection of publications for traditionally underrepresented groups that includes The Southern Patriot Civil Rights Newspaper and the Black Panther Party Newspaper.

The archive has increasingly tried to identify and collect materials that support the university curriculum. Collaborating with the History Department, the VSU Archives has built a successful student volunteer program offering history class credit for participation in indexing projects. The magazine collection has enabled the archives to expand this effort to include students and interns from the Women’s and Gender studies program who index Equal Rights.  This is a challenging task for students because writing in the 20’s and 30’s was so different than the way we use words and arguments today.  Such writing often “talks around” an issue rather than addressing it succinctly. Pulling out details and summarizing often requires careful reading.   

Since the magazine still has copyright restrictions, we chose to create access by indexing the articles into a searchable database. Students read the text and then record specific metadata for issue, date, subject, people and a summary of the article for entry into an in-house created My-SQL database. Published online, the database allows researchers to browse and then request fair use reprints of specific articles. The archives staff tracks entries for accuracy, completeness, and level of student participation. While indexing, students have begun to research and compile more information on people mentioned frequently in the magazine.

The Equal Rights indexing is part of our vital efforts at increasing collection outreach, student involvement and access to primary sources. We hope access to the collection will increase scholarly research at the university. The indexing activity has also been included in new efforts to increase experiential learning by offering students an opportunity to participate in a public history project. The Equal Rights Newsletter Collection may be accessed at https://archivesspace.valdosta.edu/repositories/2/resources/473 . The index may be searched at https://archives.valdosta.edu/equal-rights/ .

Society of Georgia Archivists Tour the Atlanta Preservation Center’s L. P. Grant Mansion

Submitted by Christina Zamon, SGA VP/ Membership Committee Chair

On Saturday, nine members of the Society of Georgia Archivists were treated to a two-hour tour by Atlanta Preservation Center Executive Director David Y. Mitchell. Despite the heat outside, the group enjoyed learning about L.P. Grant, his origins, family, and the history of the oldest existing house in Atlanta. We were able to walk through the windows just as the Grant family did to get out to the cool shade of the porches and porticos, learn how the stucco was made and about the “Grant Park Green” color of the window trim.

Vader, the unofficial mascot of the property also came by to say hello to us.

David made it clear that our work as archivists is essential to the larger role in preserving historic homes and neighborhoods and without us they could not do their important work. After the tour we had a great conversation with lots of questions about the house and the role it has played in the history of Atlanta.

The Society of Georgia Archivists is thankful to David for taking time out of his Saturday to allow us to visit and tour the space. If you missed the tour you can always sign up for one on your own: https://www.atlantapreservationcenter.com/lp_grant_mansion. Thanks also to SGA’s Membership Committee for coordinating such an insightful tour. To learn more about SGA membership and all the benefits it includes visit our website, https://soga.wildapricot.org/membership.

Processing and Digitization of the Joseph Echols and Evelyn Gibson Lowery Collection at the AUC Woodruff Library

By Lowery Project Team Members Amber L. Moore (Project Archivist) and Cathy Miller (Digitization Project Manager), Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library

In May 2021, the family of late civil rights icons Joseph and Evelyn Lowery have gifted a priceless collection of official and personal papers, photographs, writings, speeches, audio and video recordings, and other mementos to Morehouse College. The Joseph Echols and Evelyn Gibson Lowery Collection includes over 400 linear feet of invaluable materials chronicling the Lowerys’ work with civil and human rights leaders.

Over the next several months, grant funded project archivists and archival assistants will provide expert care to organize, describe, and digitize the collection to ensure broad accessibility – both physically and digitally. The Joseph Echols and Evelyn Gibson Lowery Collection expands the body of primary-sourced materials available for teaching, learning and research in the Atlanta University Center and to scholars around the globe.

Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, called the “dean of the civil rights movement,” helped create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and served as founding vice president alongside founding president Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He later served as SCLC chairman and as president and CEO. During the historic Selma to Montgomery March for voting rights in Alabama, which commenced with the violent beating of nonviolent marchers on what came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lowery led the delegation delivering a list of demands to segregationist former Alabama Governor George Wallace. His peaceful activism for justice resulted in numerous arrests and having his property seized by the state of Alabama in a historic libel suit, which resulted in a vindication by the U.S. Supreme Court and a precedent protecting the free speech rights of the press and citizen advocates.

Evelyn Gibson Lowery was a civil rights pioneer and change agent. She established SCLC/ W.O.M.E.N. (Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now, Inc.), which instituted programs on global issues including HIV/AIDS, computer and GED education for women, mentoring for girls, and civil rights history. She created 13 monuments honoring civil rights heroes while also creating a civil rights heritage tour. She graduated from Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University.

The Joseph Echols and Evelyn Gibson Lowery Collection will be archived and curated at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library and used to provide scholars, researchers, students, and the general public with an authentic understanding of the impact, sacrifice, and legacy of these civil rights pioneers. Select audiovisual and textual materials are in the process of being digitized from the collection and made available through the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library’s online repository, RADAR. Currently, the digital collection contains a mix of videos documenting activities of the SCLC and SCLC/W.O.M.E.N., photographs, and full text searchable versions of SCLC Magazine, the national magazine of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The digitized assets from The Joseph Echols and Evelyn Gibson Lowery Collection can be explored here

This will be the first in a series of posts here to the SGA blog where the Lowery Collection team will be sharing information about our processes and stories discovered from the collections during the work of processing and digitization. We hope you will be as excited to read these posts as we are to share the information with you.

SGA Summer Workshop: Register Now

Reparative Description from Two Sides: Cataloging and Processing

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 12:30-4:00 PM (EST)

Location: Zoom

This workshop is for archivists and special collection librarians who wish to increase their abilities in limiting harmful language in their organization’s finding aids and catalog records through reparative description. This workshop will help archivists and librarians to identify and build upon best practices in description and cataloging to create policy, guidelines, and implement reparative description in their own organizations. Discussion leaders will present on prominent topics and issues, and participants will learn how to approach description, identify authoritative organizations and documentation, and discuss situations with leaders in this work as well other learners through the roundtable discussion.

Instructors: Beth Shoemaker and Tierra Thomas

Moderator: Laura Starratt

Beth Shoemaker is the Rare Book Librarian at Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archive & Rare Book Library in Atlanta. Her work includes cataloging, collection development, teaching and curating exhibits in the Emory Libraries. Her research interests include how practicing catalogers approach ethics in the workplace. Since its formation in 2018, she has been co-chair of the Cataloging Ethics Steering Committee, which released a final draft of the Cataloguing Code of Ethics in January 2021. Beth is a graduate of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Tierra Thomas is an early career archivist living in Decatur, Georgia. She earned her MSLS at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – School of Information and Library Science. As an undergraduate, she studied History and African American Studies at Georgia State University. Most recently she finished her contract term as Visiting Archivist for Southern Jewish Collections at Emory University. She has served as a member of the Anti-Oppressive Language Working Group at Emory University’s Rose Library and the Conscious Editing Steering Committee at UNC-CH’s Wilson Library. Her research focuses on social justice and equity and centering those ideals in an archival setting.

Register here.

Quarterly Update from SGA President, Cathy Miller

Greetings SGA members! I wanted to take this opportunity to communicate to you all about what the SGA Board has been doing in the first few months of 2022. We’ve had our fair share of Google Workspace related issues, one of which resulted in emails that were meant to go only to the SGA Board being directed to all SGA members. The Board worked diligently to communicate to the membership via the listserv about this issue. Thankfully, whatever the problem was evidently remedied itself and you are all saved from receiving emails related to votes on administrative handbook changes.

Big news to come out from January to April is that SGA no longer has a P.O. Box address! The P.O. Box has historically caused issues for the Board and upset the flow of certain operations. In place of the P.O. Box, the SGA Treasurer will be assuming the responsibility of having mail directed to their home address or opening a temporary P.O. Box for the term in which they serve as treasurer. The Board hopes that this new approach to mailing results in less issues overall with receiving checks in a timely manner. Information regarding the current treasurer’s mailing address has been communicated to members via the SGA listserv. You can also email Josh Kitchens, our treasurer, at treasurer@soga.org and he can provide you with the current mailing address. 

In other news, the call for proposals for the annual meeting this October has been announced by the Annual Meeting Program Committee. I encourage you all to review the CFP and consider submitting a session or poster proposal. For our student members, I encourage you to consider a poster or paper/presentation submission. Last year we held our first student research showcase. It would be wonderful to be able to again highlight the work of up-and-coming professionals in the information science field. The Program Committee has created a Google spreadsheet to connect individuals seeking ideas and/or collaborators for session and poster proposals. While the spreadsheet is not monitored by SGA or the Program Committee and is not part of the official submission process, it can be a quick way to share session ideas and connect interested parties. I encourage you to add your session proposal ideas to the aforementioned spreadsheet. 

Thanks to SGA members’ feedback, the Board is also proceeding to work with the Georgia Library Association (GLA) to discuss the potential for planning a joint conference in 2023 or 2024. As planning talks with GLA become more concrete, I can assure you that pertinent information will be communicated to members accordingly. 

Also, a big thank you to those members who acted on the advocacy call that came out in early April regarding House Bill 1084. Since that advocacy call, the bill was passed by the Georgia Senate and recently signed into law by Governor Kemp. The Board is currently discussing the formation of a statement to be released regarding this action. 

That hits the highlights as to current work of the SGA Board that members might find of interest. Board members will continue to keep you apprised of upcoming activities via the listserv, so stay tuned! And as always, thank you for your continued support and commitment to SGA.