Saving African American genealogy programs

By Jill Sweetapple, SGA Blog Contributor and Archival Assistant at the Delta Flight Museum

Tamika Strong, Reference Archivist at the Georgia Archives in Morrow, took on a big challenge and created a program that has won a Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) award. Time to find out more!

What spurred this idea in the first place, can you remember?
A chance reading of an article in Georgia Library Quarterly written in 2009 by Dottie Demarest, former genealogy and local history librarian at the East Central Georgia Regional Library System which is now Augusta-Richmond County Public Library. In the article, Ms. Demarest talked about the funeral program collection at the library. After reading it, I thought that if Augusta could do it, so could Atlanta. So I started thinking about how to get the programs and where would they be housed.

Did you talk to the other project’s “inventors” or did you jump right in?
I just jumped right in. I didn’t think to reach out to Ms. Demarest. I just figured it out on my own. The goal was to collect the programs, index them and then donate them to the Auburn Avenue Research Library. Once I had the goal in mind, I shared my idea with the members of the Wesley Chapel Genealogy Group and they liked the idea. I also approached the then president of the Metro Atlanta Chapter of AAHGS, Gene Stephens, who was also on board. Auburn Avenue was the only institution I considered as a permanent home for the collection and thankfully, the Archivist at the time, Kerrie Cotten Williams, was accepting of the collection.

Did you have programs ready to go or did a collection elsewhere inspire you?
Our collection was inspired by the collection at Augusta-Richmond, that had been digitized on DLG. We didn’t have any programs ready, so through word of mouth, we began to receive donations of programs. We are still collecting and processing them. Hopefully, the programs we are collecting now will eventually be added to the Atlanta Funeral Programs Collection on DLG.

Did you have to solicit anyone to include their collections, or did a percentage donate once they heard about the project?
All of the programs were donated by members of the Wesley Chapel Genealogy Group and the Metro Atlanta Chapter of AAHGS. Some members reached out to family members, friends, funeral homes, and cemeteries and were able to get programs from them.

How did you “advertise” to get interest and donations?
Mostly word of mouth through members of the groups, but I remember creating a bookmark and would share that bookmark with attendees of workshops I taught several years ago.

How important were your genealogical ties in growing the project?
Our genealogical ties were the driving force behind the project. The obituaries contained in funeral programs are, in many cases, the only biographical sketch an individual will ever have. In the African American community, funeral programs are collected and, in some cases, treated as heirlooms. When the collector of these documents dies, unfortunately, these documents are among the papers thrown away, especially if the deceased are not members of the family. We wanted to provide a way to preserve these records because as genealogists tracing African American ancestry, we know how difficult it can be to uncover information. Though the information contained in the obituaries may not always be correct, it is a starting point for someone tracing their family’s history. Many of my fellow genealogists are having to start from scratch and it is our hope that this collection and others like it will help provide a foundation on which future researchers can begin the journey of tracing their family’s history.

If someone wanted to do a similar project, what first couple of steps would you suggest?
I would suggest they check to see if there is another project like it in their area first. If there is not, they may want to identify and speak with a repository to see if it is a collection they would be interested in receiving. The collection criteria for our project only had one restriction, the deceased had to be African American. Auburn Avenue Research Library was selected in part because they collect materials from around the world. Someone interested in doing a project such as this will have to make sure that the programs fall within the collection policy of the institution. Once they have a home, then they can work on collecting the programs. Word of mouth and some publicity at workshops worked well for us. They may be able to expand that in other ways. The goal was the index the programs before donating them to the institution so that the institution wouldn’t have more work added to their workload. Additionally, you may want to work with the institution to identify and possibly purchase supplies, archival safe boxes, folders, etc. to house the collection so that it will not become a financial drain for the institution. Grants may help to supplement this need. Work with the institution on deciding how to organize the collection, whether each program will have its own folder or if they will be grouped alphabetically. Depending on the size of the project, you may have to get volunteers to assist with the project. Once the foundation is laid and a process established, you can focus on collecting the programs.

Tell me a bit about your new GHRAC award!
Angela Stanley, the Director of Archival Services & Digital Initiatives at Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS), who was instrumental in getting the collection digitized, submitted the nomination and we were fortunate to be one of the recipients of the award. It never crossed my mind that this project would one day be honored with a state-wide award like GHRAC. It goes to show you never know. Though my name is listed on the award, the honor is shared with everyone who made contributions to the success of the project. I am grateful for the recognition and thankful to all the partners, especially the Wesley Chapel Genealogy Group, AAHGS Metro Atlanta Chapter, Derek Mosley and the archival staff at the Auburn Avenue Research Library, Angela Stanley and GPLS, and the Digital Library of Georgia for all of their work on making this project the success that it is.

The Archives of Black Women Artists (Part One), featuring Sierra King

By Anicka Austin, SGA Blog Contributor and Visiting Archivist for the Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers
Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book library

Earlier this year, Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences offered eight artists studio residencies at its Cross-Pollination Art Lab. The Hambidge Center regularly provides residencies on its 600-acre sanctuary in North Georgia and naturally has strong ties to Atlanta through the artists who live in the city and the Center’s donors.

Two of the artists, Jasmine Williams and Sierra King, used their time at the Lab focused on collaborative artmaking and exploring “the concept of archiving in real-time.” They worked parallel to each other, and King documented Williams’ creative process. King also installed “THROUGHLINE”, a physical timeline showing the intersections of their relationship from when their parents met to more recent projects like Williams’ Adult Swim Mural.

Photos of Jasmine Williams and Sierra King

The artists, no strangers to working together, began their parallel journey in middle school.

King: 

While we haven’t always been “Artists”, we have always been friends. Passing notes to each other in the hallway, connecting online at the beginning ages of social media and running into each other at music events. As both of our practices grew, we spent a lot of time in the studio together up until 2019.

Jasmine Williams, photographed by Sierra King

King is an archivist. Initially, her archival work of Black women artists began as an exploration in validation. For Black artists, having our work “validated” by its inclusion in an institution’s archival collection seems to be a step forward. She pushes back on that narrative now, saying, “there’s enough value in our work inherently. It doesn’t have to be validated by an institution.” There are many pivotal events or people in history who are not recognized on an institutional level. In our phone conversation, she uses the example of political actions, like protests, saying, “There are hundreds of thousands of Black people behind the front lines. Everyone has a story that deserves to be told.”

King’s archival history began with her family.

King:

I like to say that my first experience with the archives as a child was when I walked into my Grandmother’s living room. The walls were covered floor to ceiling with photographs of family, friends and babies that she had taken care of and watched grow up. While it wasn’t a formal institution, I look back on that memory as one that always required me to think deeply about the history of who my people were and our narratives.

King’s Grandfather, Horace Walter Stephens Jr., was one of the only African-American boy scout troop leaders in Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s. He took troops around the world to locations where Buffalo Soldiers traveled, including Alaska and Ghana.  Sierra and her family are in the appraisal process with her Grandfather’s belongings which include sports memorabilia, rare books, Ebony and Jet magazines, and a collection of Black Barbies.

King says, “the beauty of personal archives is that you still live with them.”

Sierra King, age 7 or 8, with Barbie collection

Her words remind me of an Archiving the Black Web National Forum session that featured archivists’ web-based storytelling practices. Camille Lawrence, founder of Black Beauty Archives and one of the panelists, used the example of curating exhibitions in barber shops and beauty salons to underscore the importance of context when displaying archival material. The salon, as a cultural heritage institution, puts the material in the hands of those who directly relate to it. Additionally, environmental context illuminates nuances, allowing for greater understanding of the culture by those who are being introduced to it for the first time.

King:

 I was able to recognize that it [archival work] was something that I have been doing as a photographer all along. I was documenting Black Women Artists, like Jasmine in the Atlanta arts community as I went to exhibitions, studio visits and just creating relationships with them…. I learned that while documenting the practice is important, creating a trusting relationship to be present to document the more private moments is even more invaluable.

King’s creative process as a photographer has influenced her archival work. Part of her ethos in documenting the world around her comes from a desire to go out and life a full life, to create relationships and moments that nourish her. Shifting between mediums allows her to bring those living conversations into her work. She highlights her experiences and experiences of those around her through essays and curating exhibitions. She asks of viewers of the work, “Do you have any memories entangled in this? Do you see yourself in this history?”

Top: Sierra King, archival installation; Bottom: Sierra King, Mint Gallery installation

Within this is the drive towards sharing information about archival processes with Black women artists.

King: 

My mission for documenting, preserving and archiving the livelihoods of Black Women Artists has evolved and expanded. It is centered on providing them with the tools, knowledge and resources so that they can protect not only their personal narrative but also their career narrative. 

It has allowed me to also evolve and expand as an artist. It has informed where I want to take my own artistic practice and has me actively thinking about how I want to shape and present my narrative to the world. Most importantly it has allowed me to stand firm to say, “This is what my work as an archival installation / veneration / remembrance looks like.” 

I think the mission is something that archivists have always been striving towards and is received well because I am emphasizing that Black Women Artists be proactive and active in their archival processes while they are able to make the necessary choices.

Personal archives are at the heart of King’s work, even when the collection is donated to an institution. In 2017, King worked with Leigh Raiford and a project team on Kathleen Cleavers papers, which are now part of Rose Library collections.

Photos from Kathleen Cleaver papers, process photographed by Sierra King

King continues to reflect deeply on the role of archives in the lives of Black women artists. She was awarded the National Black Arts Festival Micro Grant, which she will use to continue to document Black women artists. She is currently working with Rosa Duffy at For Keeps! Black and Rare Classic Books designing an archival residency that will allow her time and space to take inventory and showcase some smaller archival installations. She will also be returning to the Hambidge Center in November for a creative residency, where she is looking to install one of her largest installations to date.For an example of her curatorial work, you can find documentation of Here. There. Everywhere, an exhibition King curated for Mint Gallery in 2020 on Google Arts and Culture Atlanta: Bold and Beautiful.

A busy pandemic for the Portman Archives

by Jill Sweetapple, SGA Blog Contributor

Westin Peachtree Plaza; ca.1976
© 1976 Alexandre Georges courtesy of the Portman Archives Interior of the Westin Peachtree Plaza by John C. Portman, Jr. with Olga De Amaral’s commissioned work, ‘El Gran Muro’, hanging within the central atrium.

Tell us a bit about the Portman Archive, for those who may not know about it.
The Portman Archives is the repository for the architectural and artistic contributions of John C. Portman, Jr. serving to promote and preserve his architectural philosophy and legacy. We are centrally located in the heart of Peachtree Center, one of his lasting contributions to the architecture of downtown Atlanta. The Portman Archives act to provide resources for research, digitization, and circulation of information and assets from our collections, internally, locally, and internationally.

What is your staffing, are you a lone arranger or are you a team?
Here at the Portman Archives, we are a team of three, directed by the leadership of the Portman Foundation. In addition to myself, the visual materials archivist, there are two other wonderful archivists, Becca Brown and Katie Twomey.

What kinds of collections do you have in your archive?
Our collections include architectural drawings, paintings, sculptures, artifacts, photographic materials, and marketing materials all related to Mr. Portman’s career as an architect and developer.

What were some of the changes in your job due to the pandemic and lockdown, and how did these changes reveal new opportunities?
During the pandemic we shifted our focus to digital projects, while also using the time away from our physical assets as an opportunity to revamp our archival policies and procedures. During this initiative, we streamlined our mission statement and collection policy and began working on a collaborative deaccession project that focuses on reducing our physical footprint, while ensuring retention and expansion of our digital collections. This exercise has been both challenging and rewarding!

My favorite example from our deaccession project has been working to rehome a beautiful set of Olga De Amaral weavings titled, ‘El Gran Muro’ that were commissioned by Mr. Portman in the 1970s to hang in the central atrium of the Westin Peachtree Plaza. While these weavings help to tell the story of Mr. Portman’s Westin Peachtree Plaza, we have come to realize that keeping the physical items is outside of our collection policy due to their scale and our inability to display them, especially with our move to smaller square footage on the horizon.

While the pandemic certainly made it more of a challenge to handle and show the weavings in-person to interested institutions, our deaccessioning initiative has really proven to create a new and exciting opportunity to build relationships with institutions who share our goal of making these assets accessible and able to be enjoyed by the public once again!

What prompted your move?
Our move represents a new direction for the Portman Archive as we aim to be more outward facing in our promotion of Mr. Portman’s legacy. Our new space will also position us closer to our sister companies within the Portman Companies so that we can collaborate more efficiently. We are excited about what the future holds for The Portman Archives and look forward to sharing with SGA in the future. If interested, please visit our website at www.portmanarchives.com!

Celebrating Georgia Archives Month with The Case of the College Sweetheart

By Autumn Johnson, Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University Special Collections continues its tradition of celebrating Georgia Archives Month with another exciting game experience for their campus community. This year’s The Case of the College Sweetheart is an immersive mystery game in which players must examine historical evidence and digital clues to solve the forgotten mysteries of Georgia Southern’s “Sweetheart” Campus. The game offers players an opportunity to engage with archival primary sources that document the historic area of campus in a fun and engaging way. The program builds upon the success of their 2019 Secrets, Sources, and Swamp face-to-face escape room but in a safer, semi-virtual environment that allows players to socially distance themselves.

The Game
Case of the College Sweetheart mystery game sets are available for checkout at the library checkout desk. A welcome letter included in the set introduces players to a fictitious, but real-world scenario that includes a series of interconnected puzzles. Working individually or in small groups, participants have a two-hour checkout window to examine physical game materials including archival documents, private correspondence, and campus memorabilia to help solve seven interconnected puzzles. Access to digital clues and puzzle prompts are available through the online game portal at georgiasouthern.libguides.com/sweetheart. The mystery is revealed to players by solving the final clue. Participants who successfully complete the game are eligible to enter a grand prize drawing.

The program will be available throughout October and is partially funded by the 2020 Georgia Archives Month Spotlight on Archives Grant.

Photographs from Emory’s Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers are open for research

By Anicka Austin, Emory University Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library and SGA Blog Contributor

In the gospel of Mark in the New Testament of The Bible, readers meet Salome, Herodias’ daughter. Herodias harbored a strong dislike of John the Baptist, who disapproved of her marriage to Herod, her previous husband’s brother. Herodias’ opportunity to enact revenge came unexpectedly when Herod gave a banquet on his birthday. Salome dances beautifully for Herod and his guests during the banquet, prompting Herod to offer Salome anything she wants. Salome asks Herodias what she should request, returns to Herod and says, “the head of John the Baptist on a platter”. Herod reluctantly acquiesces (Mark 6:17-29). This story has been explored by artists throughout history and choreographer Lester Horton almost obsessively recreated and reimagined it throughout his career.

Carmen de Lavallade as Salome, and in The Beloved, Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

Carmen de Lavallade first danced the hefty role of Salome in Horton’s production when she was still a teenager.  Frank Eng, Horton’s business manager and partner, said she possessed “a youthful, lovely lyricism; an implicit and natural feeling for drama…and, most important, the drive.” (Bizot, 1984).  De Lavallade’s commanding presence and ability to tap into the dramatic elements of a work would be a defining quality throughout her career.

For de Lavallade, dancing with Horton helped shape her formative years. She recalls working with Horton’s company as being part of a team. The group did everything from painting sets to cleaning, which she says set her up for a well-rounded career in the arts (You Might Know Her From, 2020). This is evident in early photographs of the company, including depictions of de Lavallade teaching young students, performing Salome (1950-1953) and The Beloved (created in 1948), and working intently in rehearsal processes. She would help reconstruct Salome, or as Horton later called it, The Face of Violence, along with James Truitte for the Cincinnati Ballet Company in 1972 (Bizet, 1984).

Carmen de Lavallade with children, Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

Throughout the collection of photographs in the Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers, researchers might notice de Lavallade’s commitment to a variety of projects, which explains the range with which she performs. From actor to choreographer to dancer to educator, de Lavallade made her way through commercial film, Broadway, Yale Repertory Theater, and the stages of Paris where she danced with Josephine Baker. A series of negatives, slides and photographs show her journey through Southeast Asia as headliner of de Lavallade-Ailey American Dance Theater (1962). Her work with choreographer John Butler is also well-documented, including photographs of the well-loved Portrait of Billie (1960-1992) performed throughout several years.

Carmen de Lavallade and John Butler rehearse Portrait of Billie, and de Lavallade and Alvin Ailey on Southeast Asia tour, Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

Through photographs, researchers can also see de Lavallade celebrated and celebrating at formal events such as Kennedy Center Honors and the “Divas of the Twentieth Century” award ceremony (1991).  De Lavallade’s life in photographs is rounded out by decades of headshots and documentation of dinners, parties and relationships with friends and family.

Carmen de Lavallade at White House, and with friends, Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University

The photographs shown here represent a fraction of de Lavallade’s early life (circa 1949-1968), but researchers can find photographs in this series from circa 1900-2017. Photographs of Geoffrey Holder’s life and career are also prominent. For research questions, please reach out to rose.library@emory.edu

Finding aid: https://findingaids.library.emory.edu/documents/holder1432/series2/ 

References:

Bizot, Richard (1984). Lester Horton’s Salome, 1934-1953 and after. Dance Research Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 35-40. https://doi.org/10.2307/1478256

Bellino, Damian and Anne Rodeman. 2020 February 20. Carmen de Lavallade [Audio Podcast Episode]. “You Might Know Her From”. https://youmightknowherfrom.libsyn.com/carmen-de-lavallade

New International Version of the Bible. Biblica. https://www.biblica.com/bible/niv/mark/6/

Georgia State University Oral History Symposium Happening September 25

Interested in oral history? Georgia State University is hosting the first ever Oral History Symposium, Uncovering Hidden Narratives, on Saturday, September 25th from 9am to 5pm. The symposium was organized by oral historians from Atlanta History Center, Center for Civil and Human Rights, Emory University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, National Park Service, Oral History Association, Storycorps, University of Georgia, and We Love Buford Highway. The symposium will kick off with keynote speaker Althea Sumpter with her talk centered on trauma in oral histories. Throughout the day attendees can choose sessions that best suit their needs and interests for those that are just beginning or thinking about starting an oral history project to those that are part of established programs. We will wrap up with a meet and greet where attendees can network with other attendees and organizations who support and manage oral history projects.

Maximum capacity for this event is 75 registrants. Masks are strongly encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Register here.

We need a minimum of 25 registrations by September 10th in order for the program to proceed. All registrants will be notified by September 15th if the event cannot be held as planned and will be reimbursed for their registration costs.

Also, if you are knowledgeable about oral history yourself and would like to help, we are still looking for presenters in these areas:

Intermediate 

People with some experience in oral history (e.g. may have done interviews but may have not coordinated a project). They know what they don’t know. Sessions should present a skill that participants can begin practicing and perfecting. 

  • Funding (grants, Foundations, Federal) 
    • Creating a fundraising plan 

Advanced 

Experienced in oral history. Done many interviews and maybe some projects in the past. Don’t know what they really know (i.e. have lots of oral history practice but not much reflection on the process). Sessions should present a question for discussion. 

  • Beyond the University 
    • Use of oral history in non-academic efforts (e.g. corporate and community) 
    • Combination of academic, corporate, and/or community projects 
    • How much should funders control or have input into project design? 
    • How do you engage both interviewees and stakeholders in a project? 
    • What worked? What didn’t? What should be the takeaway from these efforts? 

A President in our Midst documentary will air on Tuesday, September 21st at 7 pm

A President in our Midst will air on Georgia Public Broadcasting on Tuesday, September 21st at 7 p.m. This compelling new documentary describes the mutual benefits that the friendship provided to both the President and the people of Georgia. 

Historic photos from the Little White House, Roosevelt Warm Springs Archives, the FDR Library, and archives across Georgia are featured in the documentary.  Additionally rare film footage from the Brown Media Archives at UGA Libraries and footage from the FDR Library are used.

In January, 2019, author and screenwriter Kaye Minchew of LaGrange and executive producer Dan White of Yatesville and Atlanta approached Georgia Public Broadcasting with a proposal to create a documentary about FDR’s life in Georgia based on Minchew’s book, A President in our Midst. With the assurance of a broadcast platform, efforts began to secure the financing and technical resources necessary to complete the film.

In January of 2020, Georgia Humanities agreed to be the official sponsor of the documentary and Georgia State University TV agreed to provide the technical expertise necessary to create the film. Filming began in September, 2020, in locations throughout Georgia.  LaGrange, Gainesville, Athens, Atlanta, Warm Springs, Thomaston, Barnesville as well as Harris, Meriwether and Upson County are all featured in the film. Using drone photography and location shooting, combined with archival photos and historical film clips, A President in Our Midst brings to viewers a contemporary image of life during the period 1921 to 1945.

Financing for the film was privately raised through public donations. In addition, the combined talents of over 70 Georgians helped create the finished product. Carol Howington Cain, James Fowler and Bill Murray are featured performers in the documentary. Oral history narratives from a variety of Georgians whose lives and institutions were profoundly shaped by FDR and the New Deal in Georgia are also featured. This most consequential of stories will be presented to a new generation of Georgians. 

The documentary recently received two awards from the Southern Film Festival, held in LaGrange. The documentary was named the best feature documentary and received the People’s Choice Award.  

Reflections on the 2021 Georgia Archives Institute

by Terri Hatfield, 2021 Carroll Hart Scholarship Recipient

As the 2020 recipient of the Carroll Hart Scholarship, I first want to thank the scholarship committee and the Society of Georgia Archivists for the award and the opportunity to attend the Georgia Archives Institute. What an incredible honor!

I can still remember receiving notice that the 2020 GAI would be cancelled mere weeks after being notified of receiving the scholarship. Though we all had become accustomed to the certain disappointment that came as the COVID-related cancellations and postponements started to pile up last year, this one was particularly hard for me to take. A year later, I was pleased to hear the scholarship had been extended to allow me to attend a virtual version of the Institute in 2021.

I have to admit: I was incredibly intimidated to be there! I have recently completed my MLIS and want to eventually work exclusively in archives, special collections, and public history, and so I desperately wanted to learn more about archives. Furthermore, alongside my primary duties as Program Coordinator for the Institute for Women’s Studies, an academic unit at the University of Georgia, I have also been informally tasked with managing the departmental archives, which include photos, newspaper clippings, memos, letters, flyers, posters, and other ephemera pertaining to the unit since its inception in 1977. So, I also desperately needed to learn more about archives. But I don’t currently officially work in an archive or library. On the first day, as the other attendees shared their backgrounds, anecdotes, and job titles, I worried my experience was too little and too informal to be there.

What made me feel more at ease was hearing many of the guest speakers talk about how the very nature of the ever-changing field of archives means you’re always learning something new, whether it’s a new practice in the field or a new item in your collection you’ve never processed before. So, you might always feel a bit like an ameatur. The key is being open to learning and changing with the field. And that’s why I was there: to learn!

And learn I did. I was impressed with exactly how much GAI was able to fit into a week and a day of courses. It was mentioned that each section of the Institute was approximately a full semester of coursework. I believe it. So much was covered, from selecting, acquiring, and appraising, to accessioning and deaccessioning, to arrangement and description, to copyright, security concerns, reference, instruction and outreach, diversity and inclusion, and more. So much more! Our primary instructor, Pam Hackbart-Dean, was awesome in keeping us focused and on these many tasks, and in managing the Zoom chat, questions, and other distractions. She was knowledgeable and personable and tried to make sure we all felt seen and heard.

From the practical lessons on preservation offered by Tina Mason Seetoo, such as how to remove a staple and how to dry out a dampened book; to the descriptions and explanations of activities and strategies of digital preservation (multiple copies, multiple media types, multiple locations!) provided by Katherine Fisher; to the crucial and invaluable reading and guest lecture on Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive Archival Description, the other faculty and guest speakers covered broad and extensive material for students to discover and consider further.

One of my favorite guest lectures was on Community Archives presented by Tamika Strong. What an interesting and important project preserving funeral programs as a way to document people’s lives and narratives! Tamika’s personal interest in and passion for the subject matter, combined with her knowledge of archives and the field, along with the practical breakdown of how the project came together in its various phases, made for a great presentation. I learned so much! Tamika mentioned that the biographies found in funeral programs are sometimes the only biographical information available to tell a person’s life story. This is a perfect example to me of the potential of intentional archival practice. I felt inspired and empowered by this presentation and it reminded me why I want to further pursue this field. Even better is that Tamika has an MLIS and is an alum of GAI – like me! How cool is that!? I hope to find my archival superpower like Tamika has, and be as effective and valuable to the field!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome gift box attendees received during the week. What a pleasant treat! Thank you to the GAI board for the adorable mini Hollinger box that will sit atop my desk at work and of course for all the delicious goodies! While everyone else gushed about the praline (and rightfully so), the peach candies and vidalia onion petals are tied for my favorite! This gesture added a special touch to the experience and created a shared connection to what could have easily been a disconnected virtual cohort.

While I still feel like I have so much to learn, I’m excited to continue reading, doing, and building upon this knowledge base I gained at GAI. Of course I’m disappointed we were unable to do an internship as part of the virtual Institute, but after hearing from so many board members and representatives of archives organizations on the last day wrap-up, the potential for future collaborations or shadowing seems possible. I have already been able to apply some of the things I learned at GAI to my informal archival work in Women’s Studies at UGA and I’m excited to grow in the field.

I would highly recommend applying to attend the Georgia Archives Institute if you can. It’s an incredible and invaluable learning experience and I feel privileged to have been able to participate.

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

By Jill Sweetapple, SGA Blog Contributor

 On Spring Street in Atlanta, there is a wonderful museum which celebrates the many Jewish contributions to our city. I asked for details from Jeremy Katz, Senior Director of Archives for the Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Archives.

Jeremy, give us your Breman elevator speech!
The Breman Museum is Georgia’s Jewish museum, and it is our mission to connect people to Jewish history, culture, and arts. We accomplish this mission by utilizing our physical space, which consists of three exhibition galleries, an auditorium, and an archival repository that houses the largest collection related to Jewish history in the region. We also have an ever-growing virtual space that consists of online exhibitions, programs, and access to archival collections via industry leading content management systems.

COVID has created challenges for everyone, but the Breman used the time wisely. What was your big project, and why now?
The archives at the Breman Museum turned lemons into lemonade and utilized the extra time at home to completely overhaul our entire CMS. We migrated from outdated, siloed systems to the industry leading ArchivesSpace, Aviary, and CollectionSpace. We recently joined the Archives at Yale as the only two repositories to integrate and sync Aviary with ArchivesSpace. Our endgame is to unite all this information into one public search portal like BentoSpace.

What made you choose the platforms you did for your collections?
Our staff decided on these platforms after years of research, planning, and fundraising. At the heart of the initiative was the primary goal of lowering barriers to collection access. After consulting with colleagues, vendors, and supporters we decided to work with LYRASIS to migrate to ArchivesSpace and CollectionSpace, and AVP to migrate to Aviary. This overhaul has drastically improved both administrative workflows and the user experience, as well as exponentially increased access to our collections.

What were a few of the biggest challenges for the project? What went well? What didn’t go as well?
One of the biggest challenges to the project was a double-edged sword. Working from home allowed extra time to focus on the project but is also created fact checking barriers. If we came across a possible error in a finding aid, for example, we could not double check the physical record to ensure accuracy. Besides the physical barrier due to COVID, everything went extremely smooth with the migration. That is a testament to our staff in the archives at the Breman and our support teams at LYRASIS and AVP.

Do you have any advice for anyone else planning to choose a new CMS?
Every institution is different so find the solution that works best for your content. Analyze your data and how it is structured, research the latest systems available, and budget the resources needed to achieve the migration. I also highly recommend the solution that we chose should your research point you in that direction. Seeing our content become more accessible than ever before has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

I hear an anniversary is coming up, how do you plan to celebrate?
Another project we worked extensively on over the past year is our new exhibition opening this September in honor of the Breman Museum’s 25th anniversary. History With Chutzpah: Remarkable Stories of the Southern Jewish Adventure, 1733 – Present, focuses on the archives and how we preserve and democratize access to the stories of our community. I hope you all can visit the museum to see the show after it opens in a few short weeks!

Scripts in the Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers at Rose Library are open for research

By Anicka Austin, Emory University Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, SGA Blog Contributor

Roger Moore had tough shoes to fill when he took over the job of depicting Ian Fleming’s James Bond in 1973’s Live and Let Die. Bond, up until that point, was played by a relatively well received Sean Connery and once by George Lazenby. Another Roger (Ebert) called Moore’s performance humorless, saying “Moore has been supplied with a lot of double entendres and double takes, but he doesn’t seem to get the joke.” (Ebert, 1973) While Moore’s lack of wit may have been a shortcoming, Geoffrey Holder’s scene-stealing portrayal of Baron Samedi held the “convoluted” (Mager, 2001) film together. Holder’s guttural laughter and mischievousness as the loa of the dead gave some weight to vodou themes in the film, as did his choreography.

Holder’s choreographic vocabulary is reflected in several moments in the film. In an opening scene on the fictional Caribbean island, San Monique, an MI-6 field agent named Baines cowers as Dambala dances a snake in front of his face. Behind Dambala, a crowd of people dressed in white step side to side, contracting and releasing their spines in a ritual dance. A revised Live and Let Die script described that same crowd in a later scene:

Ext: VOODOO CEMETARY – NIGHT

Lines of WORSHIPPERS and ACOLYTE GUARDS sway back and forth to the beat of drums, chanting. Oddly-dressed people of all sorts: WOMEN with cigars and bowler hats, MEN with rum kegs smoking root drugs, most wearing strange fetishes and amulets. A large cross-like stake with ropes hanging from it has been erected nearby, exactly in the place where we saw BAINES killed in the pre-title sequence. DAMBALA stands by the stake, takes in the proceedings, looks off as if waiting for something.

Holder’s relationship with Haitian vodou, and particularly with Baron Samedi, permeates through most of his work. His early writings, including Les Mysteres (undated), depict the goings-on of several loas, including Baron Samedi, Erzulie, and Agwe as well as Hector Hippolyte, a Haitian painter and spiritual leader from whom Holder drew inspiration. 

An excerpt from Les Mysteres:

The languid brown hand draws another delicate tracery on the orange earth: the vever of Ogoun. . .God of fire and might, power, authority, triumph, politics, war. Being an honest hero, a real shaker of history, Ogoun wears the sad tortured face of Christ, just unhung from the cross. The martyred warrior hero; his flesh is impervious to wounds but his spirit is not. The sword is sacred to him, the blood color of red, and the flames of burning rum on the earth are his salute. Thunder is the sound of Ogoun announcing that his balls are cold and he demands a drink of rum which he spits through his teeth.

Access to Live and Let Die and Les Mysteres is now available in the Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade papers. Holder and de Lavallade were both heavily involved in and influential to modern theatre, dance, and visual art. Scripts in Holder’s papers include other original writings such as The Odyssey of Anna and the Red Pumps (circa 1991-2002) and Sister Alice in Wonderland (circa 1998-2008). Holder, whose work truly ran the gamut, was also featured in ads for 7-up, as narrator for films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and as “Chef Geoffrey Lamont” on The Cosby Show (1990). These scripts and more, including several drafts of the Broadway productions The Wiz and Timbuktu, which Holder directed and costume designed, are well represented in the collection.

Researchers interested in learning more can view the finding aid, learn how to request materials from the Rose and contact reference services to make an appointment (rose.library@emory.edu).

References: 

Ebert, Roger. (1973 July 6). Live and Let Die movie review. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/live-and-let-die-1973

Mager, William (26 July 2001). Live and Let Die. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/07/26/live_and_let_die_1973_review.shtml