Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Artist in Residence

The Peterson family befriended the artist Atanas Tasev while living in Washington, D.C. Tasev was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1897 where he studied painting. He attended the Academy in Prague and lived in the city for twenty-seven years. In 1946, he left Czechoslovakia for Sweden and finally came to the United States in 1948. Tasev became an American citizen on October 13, 1953.

Tasev painted portraits, landscapes, and street scenes in Europe and continued his portrait work in Washington, D.C., as well as New York. Tasev frequently visited the Peterson’s home in Ailey, Georgia, and stayed in a renovated farm building that is still referred to by the family as “Tasev’s Cabin.” Aside from painting formal portraits of Congressman and Mrs. Peterson and Senator Richard B. Russell, the artist enjoyed sketching farm animals and writing poetry. Tasev died in 1991 but his work still decorates the Peterson home and can be found throughout the letters he wrote to the family during their long friendship.

Post by Renna Tuten, Project Archivist, Russell Library

Monday, June 29, 2009

Myers Collection Now Open!

The Richard Russell Library is pleased to announce that the Henry Tift Myers, Sr. Papers are now open for research. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Tift Myers, Sr., a native of Tifton, Georgia, was the first Presidential pilot, and transported Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman around the world. He captained of a trio of legendary airplanes— “The Guess Where II,” “The Sacred Cow” and “The Independence”—that were forerunners to the modern Air Force One. He also piloted several members of Congress, high ranking military officers, visiting royalty, and other VIPs and guests of the United States government. Among his notable passengers were Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Mexican President Miguel Alemán, King George II of Greece, and Winston Churchill. He captained the 1943 global war front flight that carried Senator Richard B. Russell and the Special Senate Subcommittee to inspect military installations. Myers was also the holder of a number of air speed and flight distance records.

The Henry Tift Myers, Sr. Papers document both his personal and professional life from 1931 to 1968, with an emphasis on his service as the first Presidential pilot during World War II. The collection contains a number of fascinating items, including Myers’ wartime flight logs, navigation charts, photographs from the then-newly liberated Paris, and drawings of “The Independence.”

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the Henry Tift Myers, Sr. Papers, please contact russlib@uga.edu or (706) 542-5788. Or, visit us online at http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/.

Post by Katherine Shirley, Head of Arrangement & Description, Russell Library

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Intern Madness II

As mentioned in previous posts, this summer we are taking time out to introduce our dedicated interns here on the Russell Library blog. In our second installment I give you the dedicated, the delightful, Ashley Domm.

Name: Ashley Domm

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Internship Period: Summer, 2009

What am I doing here at the Russell Library?
During my summer here at Russell I’m researching and writing a script for a temporary exhibit set to be installed in the gallery space within new special collections building [breaking ground in Fall '09] . The general topic is Politics of Social Relations, and through the broad possibilities that came with such a topic we have chosen to present an exhibit about reactions of those resistant to the Civil Rights Movement. The specific focus will be on Georgia politics and social history, within the context of Civil Rights. So far I’ve mainly been researching not only the Movement but the socio-political history of Georgia and the reasons behind action or inaction of those in the state who opposed desegregation, voting rights for African Americans, and the Civil Rights Act. I'm trying to conceptualize how to move this information into an exhibition whose themes will connect the past to the present.

Undergraduate Degree in History and German from Gettysburg College, Masters Degree in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York.

I knew I was a sucker for history when...
I couldn’t stay out of the history section of any bookstore or library; instead I would spend hours scouring the shelves, finding myself interested in any historical era in any place of the world. After one such biblio-filled encounter, I returned to my college campus and officially declared a history major.

The best part of my internship so far….
… has been reading all the complex and diverging viewpoints from the time period and having brainstorming sessions with staff at the Russell and other advisors.

If I wasn’t spending time in the archives, I would be pursuing a career in…
… women’s rights advocacy. At one point I seriously looked into working or volunteering for feminist activist organizations, one of the few careers I think would be as fulfilling to me other than museum, library, or similar work.

On days off, I’ll be…
… traveling around Georgia touring historic sites, camping, and hiking. I also spend my downtime reading (of course!) and exploring Athens.

In five years I see myself…
… establishing a career within the museum profession, offering diverse, challenging, fantastic, and intriguing exhibitions to the community while learning as much as possible from each story presented therein. History museum, art museum, fun historic house, outdoor sculpture garden, you name it, I would be happy to be a part of any community-oriented institution educating and interpreting cultural heritage for the public.

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Civic Engagement with Russell Forum

Save the Dates! Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia announces summer forum schedule and fall training dates and details...

The Russell Library’s civic engagement program, Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia (RFCLG) will host two National Issues Forums discussion programs this summer and a 2-day moderating and issue framing training institute in October at the Russell Library. Some details below and more to come! There will be two informal forums this summer to get to know two new issue guides from the National Issues Forums on the economy and tackling childhood obesity:

When: July 31, 2009
Where: Russell Library, 3-4:30 p.m.
(parking passes available to all attendees)
Moderator: Jan Levinson

Weighing the Options: How Can We Encourage Healthy Weights Among Georgia’s Youth?
When: August 28, 2009
Where: Russell Library, 3-4:30 p.m.
(parking passes available to all attendees)
Moderator: Jill Severn

The Russell Forum is also very excited to announce that it will be hosting a public policy institute on October 15th & 16th, 2009, where staff & guest speakers will teach issue framing and deliberative moderating skills. The institute will have a topical focus on health care and health disparities—hot issues these days! Details about scholarships and the registration process will be forthcoming later in the summer. If you are interested in participating or want more information, please contact Jill Severn at 706-542-5766.

RFCLG PPI Moderating & Issue Framing Workshop
When: October 15-16, 2009
Where: Russell Library, UGA Main Library, UGA Campus Athens, GA

Scholarships available for registration; cost $50 for both days, and $25 for each day
In other news, we are hard at work developing a new Web site for the Russell Forum for Civic Life where we can share information, research, and events connected to civic engagement in the Athens area and around the state!
Post by Jill Severn, Director, Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Intern Madness

This summer we are fortunate enough to have three interns working here at the Russell! All dedicated students of history who are working to build their knowledge of archives and helping the full-time staff to advance projects in processing and exhibit development. In the coming weeks we'll invite them to share some basic info about themselves so we can introduce them here on the blog and spotlight their contributions through various posts. Without further ado, I give you our first intern...

Name: Christie Keene

Hometown: Lilburn, GA

Burning the midnight oil at the Russell Library from... May-July 2009

Education: Rising Senior at Georgia College State University, majoring in history with a minor in music. Expected graduation: Spring 2010

Favorite course I’ve taken in college: I have enjoyed many of my classes, but the quirkiest class I've taken was Power, Politics, and Tolkien with Professor Hank Edmondson.

I knew I was a sucker for history when... I began taking more advanced history courses in high school and enjoyed analyzing the concepts of history and finding how events connect people and cultures. I realized that a historian didn’t necessarily need to have such a firm grasp on dates and facts they could win a game of Jeopardy. The most important thing a historian can do is preserve the history that exists and seek out the history being created now to save for the future.

My Gig at the Russell Library: I recently took a class about archives and expressed an interest in finding an internship. One of my classmates suggested the Russell Library, and I jumped on the opportunity. My project here is to process the William H. Burson collection. The majority of the collection is scrapbooks documenting Burson’s many professions. These scrapbooks have varying artifacts such as photographs, newspaper articles, and awards that Burson received throughout his life.

The best part of my internship so far: It’s been interesting to read through Burson’s life since I learn something new about him every day. It’s exciting to wonder how researchers are going to use the documents from his life in their work.

If I wasn’t spending time in the archives, I would try my hand at a career in…
My alter ego would be pursuing a career in voice acting. I’ve always enjoyed animation, and I admire voice actors for creating interesting and unique voices.

When I’m not in the Russell… I watch movies (I recently watched Duck Soup for the first time), listen to music, and learn new things off of the Internet. There are so many things to know, and I find it interesting that the more I learn, the more I question.

If I had to guess, I would say in five years you’ll find me… I’m hoping that I will have finished graduate school and begun working my way up in the public history field. It’s not clear yet whether I will be solely involved with preservation or museum work, but hopefully I can find a balance between the two.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Merritt Collection Now Open!

A collection of correspondence, clippings, speeches, journals photographs, audiovisual material, and memorabilia belonging to the second woman to serve in the Georgia State House of Representatives is now available for research at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies.

Janet B. Scarborough Merritt was elected to represent Sumter County (at the time, the 68th district) in the Georgia State House of Representatives in 1964. The only woman in the State House when she was elected, and the first to represent Sumter County, Merritt called herself a “full-time” representative. During her tenure she authored or co-authored over one hundred bills. Of particular note was Merritt’s ongoing battle to change Georgia’s state flag. In 1969, Merritt sponsored a bill to change the Georgia flag adopted in 1955, shortly after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, back to the 1879 version, which did not include the Confederate battle flag. After a rousing speech on the House floor from former Governor Marvin Griffin, who strongly opposed the change, the bill was tabled and later re-introduced in 1971, when it was defeated. Merritt also supported improved retirement plans and higher salaries for civil workers and school teachers, and was a proponent of tourism in Georgia, helping to establish the Andersonville Civil War Prison as a National Historic Site. Merritt also had a strong interest in rural housing issues, and was active in the state planning and community affairs committee.

In 1972, after a reapportionment, Merritt was defeated for re-election by her former colleague in the House, Oliver Oxford, in a run-off. She ran against Oxford a second time in the 1974 election, but was again narrowly defeated. The collection documents Merritt’s six campaigns, her time in the state legislature, and her community activities including heavy involvement in the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) and the Order of Women Legislators (OWLS). The topic of the role of women in government is thoroughly documented throughout her numerous speeches and writings.
Above Right: Gov. Jimmy Carter signing an executive order establishing the Study Commission on Andersonville to create a Civil War memorial. Representative Merritt , a member of the commission, is wearing an oversize confederate flag tie after her attempt to change the Georgia State flag was defeated. Merritt introduced two bills to change the State flag back to the 1879 version and was defeated in both 1969 and 1972
Above Left: “Merritt’s Merry Maids” during her first campaign in 1964.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the Janet B. Merritt Papers, please contact russlib@uga.edu or visit http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/.

Post by Katherine Shirley, Head of Arrangement and Description, Russell Library

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Souvenirs of War

As a member of the U.S. Congress during World War II (representing the first congressional district of Georgia), Hugh Peterson received correspondence from both young men eager to enlist as well as from soldiers on the ground serving their country. Along with the correspondence, constituents also sent a variety of related souvenirs.

Peterson often received letters from young men in Georgia seeking appointments to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. As their Congressman, he could make recommendations for their selection -- so naturally, his papers contain information about each applicant, submitted as a part of the application process. Because some of the applicants may still be alive, the Russell Library privacy policy restricts files like these for 75 years after their date of creation. Researchers will be able to access this set of files in 2020.

Aside from aspiring servicemen, Hugh Peterson was in touch with many men in the thick of the war effort, including two of his employees, long-time staffer Bill Harris and committee clerk Joe Underwood, both of whom were stationed in the Pacific and wrote frequently. He also heard from Michael Long, a Captain in the British Army who sent him three German mine field markers (image on right).

The "Betty"...
Another souvenir from World War II came from Captain Danis. While the collection provides little information regarding who he was or how he came to know Congressman Peterson and his family, it does contain a letter that he wrote to Hugh Peterson, Jr., in July of 1945. It described some of the places he had been in the Pacific and what life as a soldier was like, reiterating that it was not “fun”. He also sent some Japanese money and a piece of a Betty, which is the allied reporting name for the Mitsubishi G4M bomber flown by the Japanese during the war.
...and the money

Post by Renna Tuten, Project Archivist, Russell Library

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Final Report

Click the image below to see the final report for the 2009 Unnatural Causes Film & Discussion Series, which recaps each event including the audience turnout, press coverage, and highlights from the discussions. Further, the report gives an idea of how the Russell Library plans to continue the discussion of health disparities here in Athens - including the Next Steps Public Meeting this Sunday, June 7th at the ACC Public Library.

If you have any questions or comments, please email jlevinso@uga.edu -- we would love to hear what you think! If you want to know more about the Next Steps meeting, email or call (706) 542-5788. This report is also available on the National Issues Forums website, here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Oral History Taking Shape

I’ve posted here before about the oral history project we’re currently producing, Reflections on Georgia Politics. I’m excited that this is becoming a real foundational project for the future of oral history at UGA, and thought I would take a few paragraphs this week to write about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going with our oral history programs.

Past to the Present…
Oral history has been central to the Russell Library’s mission even before the Library opened its doors in 1974. Following Senator Richard B. Russell’s death in 1971, the Russell Foundation sponsored a series of interviews under the direction of Hugh Cates, who worked for Southern Bell and who was the secretary of the Foundation. The Richard B. Russell Jr. Oral History Collection now consists of 175 interviews collected between 1971 and 2002, with the bulk of the collection being taped in the early 1970s. Offering insights into Richard Russell’s life by friends, family, colleagues, and assistants, the collection itself is a who’s who of Georgia politics.

In the 1980s and 1990s the Russell Library actively collected oral histories, either commissioned by the Library or recorded by others for independent purposes. Among these is the 185-interview Dean Rusk Oral History Collection, taped by Richard Rusk and Thomas Schoenbaum in the 1980s, in preparation for their books on Rusk. As an oral history project documenting Dean Rusk’s life, in his own words, it is unrivalled at the Russell Library in its depth and scope. Agribusinessman D.W. Brooks is documented in over 12 interviews made in 1987-88, while Hal Henderson’s interviews with Ellis Arnall, Herman Talmadge, and Ernest Vandiver (collected for his biographies of Arnall and Vandiver) paint a vivid picture of gubernatorial politics from 1943 to 1966.

In the 2000s, the Russell Library increasingly became involved in creating highly-produced single interviews while also sponsoring student-run oral history projects. The results are aggregated in the Russell Library Oral History Documentary Collection, which contains wonderful videotaped interviews with Griffin Bell and Carl Sanders, among other politically prominent individuals, as well as a multi-part interview with individuals involved in the creation of Sandy Creek Park in Athens. Oral history collections also came to the Russell Library in the form of documentary film collections. These include the interviews done for the Foot Soldier Project documentaries on Horace Ward and Hamilton Holmes, and interviews with John Ehrlichman and others involved in the events surrounding Watergate, for the documentary (never broadcast) John Ehrlichman: In the Eye of the Storm.

Where Do We Go From Here?
Over the next three years we plan to continue with Reflections on Georgia Politics while migrating our analogue-formatted interviews to digital formats, making more interviews available for online research. Upon our move into the new Special Collections Building (in 2011 or early 2012), I envision the Russell Library becoming a center for oral history in Georgia. The plans for the new building include an oral history gallery and studio. The studio space (nestled in the heart of the gallery) will offer a comfortable environment where interviews can be recorded and visitors can watch the process happen. In addition to the Russell, UGA’s other special collections libraries – The Hargrett Rare Books & Manuscripts Library and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives – will be able to utilize this space for their own oral history projects. The gallery will be technology enhanced to allow visitors a variety of options for exploring interviews by subject or interviewee, as well as text panels that provide instruction for budding oral historians.

As we look forward, our goals for the oral history program become both broader and more focused – developing a structure for collecting that will stand the test of time while expanding into new interview subjects that bring an increased depth to knowledge of Georgia’s history. So stay tuned, we’re just getting started.

Post by Craig Breaden, Head of Media and Oral History, Russell Library