Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Researcher's Experience at the Russell Library...

"I found out about the extensive collections at the Russell Library when I began working here as a student researcher in December of 2006.

Since then, I have spent countless hours working with the collections as both an employee and as a student. I have based three papers off of the Russell collections. My experiences with the collection and staff have been top-notch. After doing extensive archival research across six states, I can genuinely say that the Russell Library is one of the best archives in the nation. It speaks to the friendliness and accessibility of the RBRL that undergraduate students regularly come here grudgingly for class assignments requiring primary source research and leave talking excitedly about their experiences."

-Sherri Sheu

Published in Beyond the Pages, Volume 7, Spring 2008

Russell Library Awarded Grant from the Harrison Foundation

In the summer of 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies was awarded a grant for $150,000 from the Luther and Susie Harrison Foundation, which was founded by R. Harold Harrison (BSA `41) in memory of his mother and father.

R. Harold Harrison was born April 29, 1920. He worked to put himself through school at the University of Georgia and graduated with a BSA in Agricultural Economics only to receive a blank piece of paper because he didn’t have the $5 required to have a diploma printed.

After a stint in the army, Mr. Harrison taught in the Veteran’s Farm Training program. It was during this time he became interested in the poultry industry and bought his first batch of broilers. In 1951 he gave up his teaching job and devoted himself full time to growing his poultry business, which became extremely successful. In 1954 he sold most of his chicks and began hiring other poultry farmers to raise the chickens that they would then send to his processing plant -- a process called contract growing. Over the years, Mr. Harrison continued to modernize his poultry operation and today Harrison Poultry employs approximately 600 people and has made a significant impact on the economy of north Georgia.

In addition to his business acumen, Mr. Harrison was always active in the community, participating in numerous civic, political, and religious activities. He served on the Barrow County Board of Education for 25 years and represented Gwinnett, Barrow, Jackson and Banks counties as a State Senator for a number of years.

During the course of his life, Harold Harrison worked hard to better the community and the state in which he lived. Today, his legacy of giving lives on in the Foundation’s grant to the Russell Library. In recognition of this gift, the Russell Library will designate a gallery in the new Special Collections Libraries Building as the Harrison Family Gallery. The Harrison Family Gallery will represent the Luther and Susie Harrison family’s strong commitment to public education and its support for the research and instruction mission of the University of Georgia and its Libraries. This gallery will honor the family’s admiration for the distinguished political careers of Senator Russell and other Georgians and will also serve as a distinctive recognition of Harold Harrison’s friendship and association with Senator Richard B. Russell and their work to foster rural development in Georgia through support for the poultry industry.

Published in Beyond the Pages, Volume 7, Spring 2008

Gifts to History: Bob Short and Georgia Politics in Transition

In 1962 Carl E. Sanders, then a young Augusta attorney who had cut his political teeth in the Georgia Senate, squared off succesfully against Marvin Griffin for the governorship of the state. Griffin, a Bainbridge native who had governed from 1955-1959, was defeated by a combination of factors: the corruption charges that had hung over his tenure as governor, a staunch segregationist platform that didn’t set well with urban voters newly freed of the county unit system (which had effectively disenfranchised them), and the considerable vigor of his opponent.

“That was one of the last great stump campaigns,” Cathy Cox, a Bainbridge native herself and an authority on Marvin Griffin, told me last May when Sheryl Vogt, Director of the Russell Library, and I collected her papers prior to her departure from Atlanta to become president of Young Harris College. The connections and coincidences of curating Georgia politics begin to get interesting at this point, because Ms. Cox had just finished teaching at the UGA School of Law, as Carl E. Sanders Political Leadership Scholar. Marvin Griffin came up in conversation because I was preparing to go to Young Harris to pick up a collection of films: of Marvin Griffin’s 1962 campaign against Sanders.

These kinds of connections and coincidences are dependent to some degree on people like Bob Short, who was donating the Griffin films. Bob had served in various capacities under Governors Ernest Vandiver, Carl Sanders, and Lester Maddox, and had been Jimmy Carter’s campaign coordinator in his 1966 gubernatorial bid. In the late 60s Lyndon Johnson asked him to be regional director of the Federal Office of Disaster Preparedness (one of the offices that would be rolled into FEMA under Jimmy Carter). When Bob left that office, he went on to enjoy a successful career in the private sector while remaining close to, and occasionally advising, Georgia politicians. Bob introduced himself to the Russell Library in the summer of 2006, and since then has donated materials of significant importance, among them: recordings from the late 1950s of the States Rights Council, Governor Jimmy Carter’s weekly radio addresses, and those films of Marvin Griffin’s ’62 campaign.

This is a goldmine for an American political archive. The Griffin films alone, speaking the southern political rhetoric of the era, rife with segregationist sentiment and appealing to rural interests, illustrate the tension and transition that defined Georgia in the early 1960s. Here the gritty substance of fire-and-brimstone Georgia politics on a hot summer’s day finds full expression in black and white (figuratively and literally), and as historical documents of the era the films are invaluable. Bob’s only stipulation in donating the materials: make them available to the public on DVD, CD, whatever…just make them accessible. We love these types of agreements.

But Bob’s generosity has reached beyond the bounds of these donations. Somewhere along the way, Bob was bitten by the history bug, and in 1999 he published the engaging and spirited Everything is Pickrick (Mercer University Press), the only biography thus far of Lester Maddox. When he visited me at the Russell Library in 2006, to donate the initial set of materials, he was also looking for two 30-minute Carl Sanders’ campaign spots from 1970. We had these, but on 2” videotape (read: unviewable). “If you let me use them in a lecture I’m giving, I’ll pay to have them transferred to DVD,” said Bob. We don’t turn these sorts of offers down, and I enthusiastically agreed.

But now he had also piqued my curiosity. I learned that Bob, who lives in Blairsville, was hosting a series of lectures and interviews at Young Harris College, as part of their Institute of Continued Learning program, entitled “Reflections on Georgia Politics.” He had set out on his own to tell the story of Georgia politics in its critical time of transition, focusing on, but not limited to, 1946-1980 (astute observers will note the dates are bookends of Herman Talmadge’s political career), complete with interviews of key actors in the drama and rounded out with his own fly-on-the-wall perspective when he could add it. Among others, Bob has thus far interviewed Joe Frank Harris, Roy Barnes, Betty Vandiver and Jane Kidd, Bert Lance, Johnny Isakson, Saxby Chambliss, Leroy Johnson, Carl Sanders, and his friend since his days as a student at Young Harris, Zell Miller. Bob’s casual style puts his guests at ease, and they are surprisingly candid with him. We offered to partner with Bob for this year’s interview programs, which have included Cathy Cox, David Gambrell, and Bob himself. Bob has also agreed to help the Russell develop Political Parties Oral History series, which will document the rise of two-party Georgia.

Bob Short has given freely, not only of the media he has donated, but of his time, effort, and knowledge, and in so doing he has created a fuller, richer portrait of Georgia’s political history. This is a true gift.

By Craig Breaden
Head, Media and Oral History Unit
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies

Published in Beyond the Pages, Volume 7, Spring 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Portrait of Ga. senator unveiled on Capitol Hill


The University of Georgia unveiled an oil portrait Tuesday commemorating Sen. Saxby Chambliss' chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The painting will hang in the committee's hearing room until 21 years after he leaves office. It will then be moved to UGA's Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies as part of a permanent collection on Chambliss' political career.

It was unveiled at an afternoon ceremony on Capitol Hill.

Chambliss, a Republican from Moultrie and 1966 UGA graduate, was chairman of the Agriculture Committee for two years before Democrats took control of Congress in the 2006 elections.

Portraits of former chairmen are a tradition in Congress, lining the walls of committee rooms throughout the Capitol and surrounding office buildings.

Chambliss' portrait, owned by UGA, was done by a Bulgarian-born artist who goes by the name Rossin and who lives in Atlanta. Rossin also has done portraits of President George W. Bush and former president George H.W. Bush. He also has a work on display in the White House depicting the presidents of the 20th century.

Private donations, mainly from agribusiness interests, were raised to pay for the Chambliss painting. It cost $17,000, according to William Gray Potter, director of UGA libraries and associate provost.

Chambliss has committed his official papers to be archived at the Russell library.

© 2008 Ledger-Enquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Martin J. Hillenbrand Papers

We are pleased to announce that the Martin J. Hillenbrand Papers, 1910s-2005, are now open for research. Ambassador Martin J. Hillenbrand served for thirty-five years as a professional United States Foreign Service Officer, including service in Burma, India, Mozambique, Hungary, France, and Germany. He was appointed as the first U.S. Ambassador to Hungary (1967-1969), Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (1969-1972) and Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany (1972-1976). The collection consists of Hillenbrand’s personal papers and provides an overview of his life and career in diplomatic service. The papers also document his academic career at The University of Georgia (1982-1997) and involvement in international diplomatic organizations. Of particular interest are his personal, hand-written journals and notebooks, which begin with adolescence and extend through retirement. This collection joins over 120 collections documenting public policymaking and political culture centered in Georgia available for research here at the Russell Library.

View the finding aid for this collection at

Monday, May 05, 2008

Russell Library on Facebook!

Join Facebook and become a fan of the Russell Library! Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies is now on Facebook, and you can view our page HERE. Fans can post Russell Library related comments, pictures, and videos, converse with other Russell fans, and receive updates on Russell events.