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

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.

Q and A with SAA’s Newly Elected Brittany Newberry

Today we are featuring Brittany Newberry, SGA member and current Archivist of Popular Music and Culture at Georgia State University. She has been recently elected to the Society of American Archivists Nominating Committee. She has served as SGA Communications Director and Assistant, Outreach Manager and Assistant, and was on SGA’s nominating committee. She has held positions in SAA’s Archivists and Archives of Color section steering committee, SAA’s Membership Committee and Career Development Subcommittee. What better way to learn about leadership in archives than from Brittany who is on a pursuit to uplift our profession.

When and why did you start working in archives?

I started working in archives when I was a freshman in college. I needed a work study job and knew I wanted to work in the university library. When meeting with the administrator to decide which department I would like to work in, I saw the option for rare books. I have been interested in history all my life and I love books and reading. I am one of those people who thinks books have a great smell, well when not water damaged haha. So I chose the Rare Books department to be able to be around the historical, rare first editions, and autographed books. The department was actually a part of Special Collections and would all be named Special Collections and Archives by the time I was a sophomore. I spent the first year working on creating book enclosures for fragile books and working on a collection of an early 20th century American missionary in China who sent handwritten letters to family. I enjoyed the work so much and it didn’t hurt that the reading room looked like it was from Harry Potter. I continued to work there all four years of college. During my time, I was able to process collections, do preservation work, and in-person reference. By my junior year, I was still undecided on my career path, so I spoke with my supervisor and the dean of the library to get some feedback on if I should attend library school and where. I decided to apply, I went to Simmons College in Boston, did my concentration in archives management, and have not regretted one second of the time I spent being in, learning about, and working in archives.

What or who encouraged you to join the Society of Georgia Archivists and Society of American Archivists?

I joined the Society of American Archivists during my first year of graduate school. Professors and classmates talking about the benefits was why I joined. But I didn’t really get involved with sections and committees until after I began my first professional job.

I joined the Society of Georgia Archivists the month after I started my first professional job. My coworkers encouraged me to do so. They told me it would be a great experience and the people are great. FYI, they’re right!

Why did you pursue leadership positions within SGA and SAA?

If you know me, you know I have a hard time saying no and that I have to stay busy. A coworker at my first professional job asked me to be her Assistant Outreach Manager in SGA. I said yes and then after meeting the people and attending the annual meeting, I just kept wanting to volunteer for positions. 

In regards to SAA, they had a program for new professionals and students to be interns for various sections and committees. I volunteered to be an intern for the Archivists and Archives of Color section to learn more about the work of the section. It was a great experience and led me to volunteer to be on the steering committee and volunteer to be on other committees in SAA.

I volunteered to run for SAA’s Nominating Committee because I was asked and I thought it would be a great way for me to give back to the organization and the profession.

How have your roles in SGA and other organizations helped shape you as an archivist?

The leadership roles I have taken on have helped me to be more confident in my abilities as an archivist and as a leader. I used to and still sometimes have imposter syndrome, but when I get asked to take on a leadership role, I know I am doing something right. I am willing to take on new challenges and learn new skills to better myself as a professional. I didn’t think this would be what I would be doing as an archivist. I was content just processing collections. But these roles have helped me to want and achieve more. I have also met great people and made great connections.

What are some key characteristics that you think are important to good leadership?

The willingness to try and try new things and new ideas, to me, is one of the key characteristics of a good leader. And listen. Great leaders need to be able to listen to those around them and understand that even if they don’t have the answer or next great idea that they can figure out who does and how to best support the team.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role on SAA’s Nominating Committee?

SAA’s nominating committee is tasked with finding candidates to fill significant roles in SAA. I think just being able to help recruit the potential leaders is something I am definitely looking forward to. I am looking forward to being able to share my perspective and recommend the great archivists that I know and/or have heard about.

Thank you to Brittany for participating in our interview. If you wish to be a part of SGA leadership, reach out to our nominating committee at nominating@soga.org.

Atlanta History Center Making Women’s History Accessible

As Atlanta History Center works to make history available and accessible to all, a key component is women’s history. In 2020, Atlanta History Center archivists created detailed inventories for 16 archival collections that focus on women’s history in Atlanta. The photographs and historical documents in the collections help tell the stories of women civic leaders, activists, photojournalists, and entrepreneurs. This initiative is made possible by Emily Bourne Grigsby whose bequest endows support for the research, interpretation, and presentation of the role of women in the South. Grigsby was a multi-talented philanthropist from Atlanta, who’s donation established the Emily Bourne Grigsby Fund for Women’s History.

Portrait of Emily Bourne Grigsby (1922-2020) modeling. Grigsby worked as a runway and print model for department stores for 15 years. She was also an opera singer for the San Francisco Opera and prolific artist and arts advocate. She later practiced as an arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Directors (NASD) and as a mediator for the Justice Center of Atlanta. Emily Bourne Grigsby visual arts materials, VIS 391, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

The 16 archival collections now available to the public because of the Grigsby Women’s History Fund include the following:

Suzanne Anderson Photographs

Atlanta Tomboys Documents

Atlanta Women’s Network Records

Lucinda Bunnen Photographs

Maria Helena Dolan Papers

Sally Fanny Gleaton Papers

Yolande Copley Gwin Visual Arts Materials

Emily Bourne Grigsby Visual Arts Materials

Florence Inman Photographs

Lochrane and Reid Family Papers

Chris Mastin Photographs of Protest Marches

Roan Family Papers

Leila Ross Wilburn Visual Arts Material

Darlene Roth Papers

Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta Visual Arts Materials

Cathy Woolard Papers

Along with her accomplishments as a model, opera singer, and arbitrator, Emily Bourne Grigsby (1922-2020) was also a licensed pilot. Pictured here is Grigsby with an unidentified man and child before take-off. Emily Bourne Grigsby visual arts materials, VIS 391, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Explore more about the Emily Bourne Grigsby Fund for Women’s History here https://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/learning-research/projects-initiatives/womens-work/

Submitted by Kate Daly, Visual Culture Archivist, Atlanta History Center

VSU’s Women’s Suffrage Program Grant brings History to Students

Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections have partnered with the Odum Library and teaching faculty to bring a 5-session book program on Women’s Suffrage to Valdosta, funded from an American Library Association grant. The Archives will be providing meeting space, refreshments, and a display on Women’s Suffrage in Georgia. The “Let’s Talk About It: Women’s Suffrage” project at VSU will kick off on March 10 and continue over a series of 10 weeks, discussing five books.

Learn more from the blog post here: https://www.valdosta.edu/about/news/releases/2022/02/vsu-wins-american-library-association-grant-for-womens-suffrage-project.php .

Submitted by Deborah Davis, Director, Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections

SGA’s Carroll Hart Scholarship Now Accepting Applications

Application deadline: March 8, 2022

The Society of Georgia Archivists is now accepting applications for the Carroll Hart Scholarship to attend the 2022 Georgia Archives Institute. As of now, the Institute will be held in person, from June 6-17, 2022. It will be held in Morrow, GA and is a two week immersive introduction to archival scholarship, with hands-on training and insight from renown archivists.

To learn more and find the application visit our website, https://soga.wildapricot.org/scholarships/hart. Send questions and applications to scholarships@soga.org.


APPLY TODAY!

SGA 2021 Annual Meeting Recordings Available Now

The recordings of the 2021 SGA Annual Meeting are now available to view online! If you were unable to attend the conference live or missed a session you really wanted to attend, we invite you to view the playlist of presentations on SGA’s YouTube.

The presentations are unlisted, so you cannot access them by visiting our page or searching for them on YouTube. They are only viewable through this link, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLH2n1apWPCoP98qJads742hVdd2Gt0dXm

While you are on the playlist be sure to subscribe to our channel!

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.