Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mason Papers Now Open

The Keith Mason Papers are now open for research at the Russell Library.

Keith Mason was born in Snellville, Georgia on 20 September 1960. His father, Wayne Mason, was former Chairman of the Gwinnett County Commission and introduced his son to Zell Miller, who was running for Lieutenant Governor in 1974. As a teenager, Mason accompanied Zell and Shirley Miller on several campaigning trips and Miller was impressed with the Mason’s knowledge of state issues and current proposed legislation.

After graduating high school in 1978, Mason coordinated Miller’s re-election campaign in East Georgia’s tenth congressional district. He entered the University of Georgia in the fall and studied finance. He became active in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity as an undergraduate and remained in Athens to attend law school at the university, graduating in 1985. During college and law school, he served as chairman of United States Senator Sam Nunn’s youth organization, and worked on Nunn’s senate campaigns in 1978 and 1984. Mason served as a legislative aid for Lieutenant Governor Miller, as an assistant in 1980, and worked on both Miller’s 1982 and 1986 re-election campaigns.

In 1988, Mason worked for Miller as a fundraiser for his 1990 gubernatorial campaign and then became the campaign manager for Miller’s successful run against Andrew Young in the Democratic primary and Johnny Isakson in the general election. Mason was appointed Miller’s Executive Secretary and was responsible for advising the governor on legislation and overall strategy.

In July 1993, Mason left the Miller Administration to work in the White House as Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. In the Clinton administration, Mason worked to foster good working relationships between the president and U.S. governors. He alerted governors of legislation important to their states, smoothed over differences, and streamlined bureaucracy. In December 1995, Mason resigned and returned to Atlanta, Georgia.

Currently, Mason lives in Atlanta with his wife, Delphine, and their children. He is employed as an attorney by McKenna Long and Aldridge LLP and serves as a public policy counselor. Mason is also the CEO of Mason Capital, a real estate and investment firm, and is widely considered one of the most influential lawyers in Georgia.

More about the collection

This collection consists of manuscripts, printed materials, photographs, and political ephemera collected outside of Mason's work with Zell Miller (see Zell Miller Papers, Keith Mason Files). In includes papers from his tenure as White House Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, an office that acts as liaison between the president and the United States governors.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the Keith Mason Papers, please contact russlib@uga.edu or call (706) 542-5788.

Step 2: Inventory & Catalog

Now that we have taken some actions (a la Step 1: Identify) to gain a better understanding of what we want to move, we can begin focusing on the creation of accurate inventories and catalog records for the collections.

But before we get into this, let’s backup and talk about our new storage area. One important thing to know about the new special collections building: all of our collections will be kept in a space that we lovingly refer to as “the cube.” The building will be 115,000 square feet total, but our climate controlled, high density storage area will take up approximately 30,000 of those feet. Most of the storage space will be kept at the optimal environmental conditions for documents (which comprise the vast majority of our holdings) with a small portion devoted to conditions that accommodate objects containing natural materials which cannot be exposed to extremely low temperatures (cold) and humidity levels (dry); some examples would be pieces of furniture and paintings. We estimate that the entire new storage area should accommodate the holdings of all three special collections libraries, leaving room to enough to grow for at least the next forty years.

The catch about the “cube” is that it will take our staff out of direct, day-to-day contact with our archival materials. When someone comes into the Russell Library now and requests a box, a staff person walks to the back and retrieves said box. In the new facility, our staff will request the box from “the cube” using an automated system but will not actually journey downstairs to retrieve the item. Thus, as we prepare for the move it is essential that we have the most accurate information about every container that we store, so that we can easily request the proper boxes for staff and patron use. That said, we are taking the following steps to ensure we have both intellectual and physical control over all of our collections:
  • Currently we have catalog records and finding aids for 124 of our 300 collections. For the other collections, without full finding aids, we have preliminary finding aids and general box listings. We are beginning the process of finalizing our preliminary finding aids in order to create catalog records for all of our holdings.

  • We have students double checking container inventories that already exist. And, we are gathering information about containers that are not currently available in our finding aids database.

  • We are planning a full item level inventory of our more valuable items that will be stored in the upstairs vault.

  • The UGA Libraries Cataloging Department has been gracious enough to catalog Senator Russell’s book collection. The project is almost complete and they have cataloged over 2,500 titles. There are other book collections in our holdings, but none are as large as the Senator’s so we will worry about having the others cataloged at a later date.
Left: Recently cataloged books from the Russell Collection
Over the next few months we will create finding aids and catalog records for all of our smaller collections (those less than 10 linear feet) and preliminary inventories for larger collections. Also, we will create a list of holdings that have user restrictions and are not available to researchers; these collections will receive very minimal catalog records (consisting only of a brief description and box listing). Hopefully by July 2011 we will have at least minimal records for all of our holdings here at the Main Library and then we can move on to our off-site facilities.

Post by Kat Stein & Jan Levinson, Russell Library

Monday, April 26, 2010

Barrett Collection Open

The David M. Barrett Research Files are now open for research at the Russell Library.

Barrett was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1951. He graduated in 1973 from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s in American studies. After working as a radio news director, Barrett became the Public Affairs Director for WNIT Public Television, in South Bend, Indiana for eight years. In this capacity he produced documentaries, moderated political debates, and hosted and produced a nightly interview program. Barrett occasionally contributed background information for use on "The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour," and appeared as a guest interviewer on William F. Buckley's "Firing Line" in January 1984. Barrett occasionally conducted interviews for two syndicated television series produced by Oblate Media, Golden Dome Productions and the University of Notre Dame's Institute for International Peace Studies from 1988 to 1991. In 1984, he was a candidate in the Democratic primary election campaign for the United States House of Representatives from Indiana's third congressional district.

Barrett received his master’s from the University of Essex in England in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1990. He currently serves as Professor of Political Science at Villanova University. His chief research interests are the U.S. presidency and Congress in relation to national defense and intelligence policies. The most recent of his three books—The CIA and Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy—explores the confidential interactions between heads of the Central Intelligence Agency and congressional leaders. His previous books examined Vietnam: Lyndon B. Johnson's Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection and Uncertain Warriors: Lyndon Johnson and His Vietnam Advisers.

Materials in this collection were compiled by Barrett while conducting research for his book The CIA and Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy. Files consist of copies of documents (such as correspondence, memoranda, telegraphs, congressional records, correspondence, clippings, statements, budget information, and reports) from other archival repositories, historical studies, and researcher notes. They provide an in depth record of the relationship between Congress and the CIA, as well as a study of the CIA itself.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the David M. Barrett Research Files, please contact russlib@uga.edu or call (706) 542-5788.

Forum Report: Weighing the Options

On Wednesday, April 21st coordinators from the Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia met with graduate students interested in nutrition and health promotion at the University of Georgia for a discussion on childhood obesity. Nine students, two professors, and two moderators gathered in the conference room of the Gerontology Center to discuss the NIF issue guide “Weighing the Options: How Can We Encourage Healthy Weights among America’s Youth?” The guide presents the following approaches to the problem:

Approach 1: Expect personal responsibility for fitness – The crux of the problem is that our children are not getting the education and supervision they need in order to be fit and healthy. Adults need to play a stronger role in guiding young people to choose healthy foods and include enough physical activity in their daily lives.

Approach 2: Invest in overall child well-being – The crux of the problem is that we focus too much on children’s weight as the primary concern, rather than as a symptom of other issues. Investing in the overall well-being of children is the best way to help them maintain healthy weights.

Approach 3: Change our culture to encourage fitness – The crux of the problem is that our society bombards children and families with opportunities to eat more and do less. We need to drastically change our home, school and community environments to restore a healthy balance between the calories we eat and the calories we burn.

After going through the ground rules and watching the introductory video, moderators began to prompt the group with questions about personal stake. What do we mean when we use the term obese? Who does obesity affect? And, who has a role in curbing the growing trend of childhood obesity -- parents? schools? local governments? The questions lead to a dynamic discussion and RFCLG extends tremendous thanks to participants involved in the forum. To read a full report on this forum, CLICK HERE.

Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia will host its next informal forum on Friday, May 21st from 3:00-4:30PM in the Russell Library auditorium. The topic: America's Role in the World: What Does National Security Mean in the 21st Century? For more information call (706) 542-5788 or visit http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/rfclg/. The dates for all of our upcoming public forums can be found on the Russell Forum Training and Program Calendar.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Credit Long Overdue

Below: Lorena Weeks poses with the poster advertising Thursday's screening!
On Thursday, April 22nd, thirty people gathered in the Russell Library auditorium for a screening of Lorena Weeks: Georgia Woman, Trailblazer for Justice! Russell Library's Head of Access and Outreach, Jill Severn, provided an overview introduction to the event and Kathleen Clark, Professor of History at UGA, spoke about the events that led to documenting Lorena's story on film.
Below: Kat Clark introduces the film
In 1966 Ms. Weeks applied for a promotion at her longtime employer, Southern Bell. The position, that of a switchman, promised an increase in pay and a significantly shorter commute to work. Despite her seniority with the company, she was denied the promotion because she was a woman and it was a job reserved for men. Weeks knew about the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed by President Lyndon Johnson and felt that Southern Bell had violated her rights under the law, which specified that an employer could not discriminate on the basis of sex. After years of appeals, Weeks won her case in 1972. She became a switchman at Southern Bell, a position she held until her retirement in 1981 after more than thirty years of service to the company.

Below: Ms. Weeks mingling with attendees after the screening.
Following the screening, attendees rose for a standing ovation -- turning to face Lorena Weeks, who was seated near the back of the audience; long overdue praise for her contribution to the rights of women in the workplace. Weeks informally answered questions from the crowd and mingled with attendees, many of whom thanked her individually for taking a stand for women everywhere. To the surprise of many, Weeks mentioned that until the filming of her oral history last fall, she had rarely spoken about her struggle to anyone - not even to her two daughters.

Before the conclusion of the afternoon, Severn proudly announced to the crowd that Lorena Weeks will donate her papers, which document her five year legal battle with Southern Bell, to the Russell Library! As a staff, we look forward to this new addition, and in the meantime urge visiting researchers to utilize user copies of the Weeks oral history film or stream the full interview HERE.

And speaking of the film...In the clip below Ms. Weeks describes how she began her employment with the telephone company and her application for promotion to the position of switchman in 1966. Weeks recalls that upon losing her bid for promotion she sought help from her union and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but was ultimately told that she would have to take her case to court to find justice. On May 18, 1967 Weeks filed a suit against Southern Bell.

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Monday, April 19, 2010

Step 1: Identify

We began preparing for the move by asking the question, "What do we want to move to the new Special Collections Building?" While it seems like that question should illicit the simple answer of "everything" we quickly discovered it wasn't so easy.

Before we can move anything, we need to figure out what we have. And, since we have filled every nook, cranny, and spare closet available over the past thirty years, both in our space at the Main Library building and in our off-site storage locations, accounting for everything is a time intensive activity. Last spring we were lucky enough to have a volunteer who did a box count of fifty-seven rows of shelving in the Main Library, and I was able to do a general survey of our holdings at three off-site storage facilities. Our shelf by shelf inspection at Main led us to several conclusions:

Below: Objects on the loose! (a small sample)
  • There are over 35 types of containers (which include document stor age boxes, record center boxes, and specialty and oversize boxes)
  • Many of our containers are either not sturdy enough to withstand the move or their current contents are too heavy.
  • There are hundreds of objects that are loose on the shelves.
  • Several collections have materials that can be deaccessioned or transferred to another repository.
  • In addition to dealing with actual collection boxes, we also have many items that will need to be stored in the high density storage area that are not collections, but are necessary for our operations (including exhibit materials and publications).

  • According to my assessment, we have approximately 4,500 boxes of various sizes at our off-site facilities. Only brief, preliminary inventories were done on these boxes and many of them are also not sturdy enough for the move.
Taking all this into consideration, our primary focus for now is to ready the materials at the Main Library -- first the archival collections, followed by our operational files, for the move. That involves getting everything labeled and boxed properly. Once those items are prepared, we can tackle materials at our off-site locations.

The “Identify” step has pushed us through what feels like the seven stages of grief, beginning with shock and denial, progressing to guilt, anger, and bargaining, but hope and acceptance are right around the corner. This part of the move process gives us a much better idea of the road ahead and what kind of timeline we’re looking at. Fearlessly we advance toward step 2: creating an inventory of items. Stay tuned.

Above: Diligent student worker advancing the
relabeling project of Senator Russell's collection.

Post by Kat Stein, Head of Arrangement and Description, Russell Library

Friday, April 16, 2010

Star Student

This past week the University of Georgia held the annual Student Employee of the Year awards luncheon. The top 100 student workers who were nominated for the award were treated to a swanky luncheon at the Georgia Center, and the Russell Library's very own Javad Khadavi made the list! Javad is a talented graphic designer who does wonders for our website and print materials, in addition to dozens of other projects, great and small, here at the archives.

So congrats Javad! Here's hoping for many more great semesters to come!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Search Story

Someone at the UGA Libraries just forwarded a neat gadget to the rest of the staff -- Google's Search Stories Creator. I made up a quick story about the Richard B. Russell Library, highlighting a few of our programs and collections. Check it out HERE or in the window below and see what you think!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Tribute

The Russell Library remembers Aubrey Morris, who died today at the age of 88. Morris was born in Roswell, Georgia, and grew up writing for the local newspaper. He attended the University of Georgia and studied journalism. He worked as an intern for the Atlanta Journal, and edited the UGA yearbook. On the day of his college graduation, he started as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal, and covered Atlanta and city hall. He also started the first public information office at the state transportation department. After thirteen years at the Journal, he joined WSB, and helped to develop the first radio news department in Georgia. He covered the major events, state-wide, national, and international, of the day, including desegregation, the Vietnam War, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He served for thirty years as news and editorial director at WSB. In 1987, he retired.

In 2009 Aubrey sat down with Bob Short, for the Russell Library's Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series, and talked about his experiences covering politics, including this story Martin Luther King, Jr's rise in Atlanta.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

5 Easy Steps

After some thoughtful brainstorming, one of my colleagues in the Russell Library came up with the following steps to moving an archival repository:

Step 1: Identify the items you want to move.

Step 2: Create an inventory of said items.

Step 3: Pack fragile materials to protect against breakage.

Step 4: Barcode all containers and oversize loose objects so you can track/locate them later.

Step 5: Move all containers and objects to the new Special Collections Building.

After these, all that's left is the unpacking and hosting a series of fights to see who gets which cubicle, right? Well, we all wish it was quite that simple. But in truth, each of these small steps can take months to complete depending on the current state of collections. For our next trick, we'll begin addressing each of these proposed steps -- peering further into how they will be accomplished at the Russell Library in the next several blog posts on our move. We've also made the decision to solicit some help with a series of posts called "How Do You Move This?" - presenting some of our most challenging objects that have to make the trip to the new building and asking for thoughtful suggestions on how to accomplish this feat.

If there is anyone out there who can't wait to hear more about archival moves (I know you're out there!), you can check out, Moving Archives: The Experiences of Eleven Archivists. This book is a good resource full of horror stories about archival moves gone wrong, and it provides some good food for thought. Hopefully we won't have to add any negative experiences to the next edition!

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trailblazer Screening

What: Screening of the Oral History Film, Lorena Weeks - Georgia Woman, Trailblazer for Equity!

Thursday, April 22, 2010, 2:00-3:15PM

Russell Library Auditorium, West Entrance to Main Library Building, University of Georgia

The Russell Library at the University of Georgia is proud to present the premiere screening of Lorena Weeks - Georgia Woman, Trailblazer for Equity! an oral history documenting an amazing woman who played a pioneering role in overturning unfair labor practices towards women in the United States in the 1960s. Dr. Kathleen Clark, Associate Professor of History at UGA, will introduce the film. Ms. Weeks will be a special honored guest at the event.

In the 1960s, Weeks courageously challenged the discriminatory practices of her employer, Southern Bell. After a several-year long struggle, Weeks won her case, successfully arguing that Southern Bell’s longstanding practice of excluding women from many higher-paying positions was a violation of Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Her case, Weeks v. Southern Bell, rendered a precedent-setting decision that helped to overturn “protective legislation” and related policies that had long excluded women from desirable and well-paid work.

Following the program there will be a light reception and time for questions and discussion. The program is free and open to all. Parking is available nearby in the North Campus Parking Deck on South Jackson Street. Campus and city buses serve the main library location at the South Jackson Street stop. For wheelchair or limited mobility access to the Russell Library, please enter the main entrance for the Main Library and check in at the security desk in the lobby.

For more information about this program, please contact Jill Severn at 706-542-5766 or jsevern@uga.edu

Informal Forum (4/16/2010): Breaking the Habit of Deficit Spending

The Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia (RFCLG) is hosting National Issues Forums on a monthly basis at the Russell Library. Our next informal forum will take place this Friday, April 16th from 3:00-4:30PM in the Russell Library auditorium.

This month's deliberative forum considers the consequences of our mounting national debt. The bad habit of deficit spending is more apparent than ever, and pressures on the federal budget will soon get worse. It is not enough to support deficit reduction in principle. The challenge is to see what changes most Americans are willing to accept as the best way out of a difficult situation.

Using the National Issues Forums guide, The $9 Trillion Debt: Breaking the Habit of Deficit Spending, the group will consider several approaches to tackling this complex issue. A trained neutral moderator will guide the discussion. The event is free and open to all. More information is available by contacting Jan Levinson at 706-542-5788. For more information about Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia, visit www.libs.uga.edu/russell/rfclg

How to Find the Russell Library: The Russell is located on the bottom floor of the Main Library building on UGA's north campus. Follow the path down the right side of the main library building (the west facing side) and down the stairs to access our door!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cold War Recall

Today in Prague, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev signed a nuclear arms control treaty that would mandate modest reductions in the arsenals of the United States and Russia. At the height of the Cold War that nearly heated in the 1950s and 1960s, it was likely difficult for leaders on either side to foresee an end to the conflict. Now, nearly twenty years since its conclusion, the legacy of this competition between world powers for increased military spending and technological prowess is still relevant to current world news.

With recent explorations into America’s Role in the World and current events on the mind, I thought April’s “Outside the Box” should take us back to that Cold War Era. And thus, I give you this month's selection:

Object: Scale Model, Nike Zeus B Missile
Collection: Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection

More about the Nike Zeus...
In 1945 the United States Army began a project with Bell Laboratories to create a line-of-sight anti-aircraft missile system. The U.S. wanted a new system of air defense that could combat the jet aircrafts, whose speed and altitude allowed them to elude existing gun-based systems. Called Project Nike, the work led to the development of a series of anti-aircraft missile systems employed during the height of the Cold War. The Nike Ajax was introduced in 1953, followed by the Nike Hercules and Nike Zeus, each more technically advanced and powerful than its predecessor. With the development of ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) the value for the Nike air defense system decreased and over the 1960s their number was slowly but surely reduced.

We have no official documentation regarding how Senator Richard B. Russell came to posses this particular model. We do know that Russell served as the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1951 until 1969 and led the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission. This Nike model is only one of the dozens of model air crafts and missiles in the Russell Collection, all of which were likely gifts commemorating the launch or development of the new military advancements for America’s defense.

For more technical information on the capabilities and intended uses of the Nike Zeus, and to see the missile in action, I give you some historic footage (courtesy of the Internet Archive & Creative Commons): http://www.archive.org/details/nikezeus

April's “Outside the Box” object will be on display in the lobby gallery of the Russell Library, open 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, until May 15th. For further information please contact russlib@uga.edu or visit http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell.

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

On the Move

On January 28, 2010 the University of Georgia held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Special Collections Libraries Building. We came, we saw, we shoveled! And we took a few pictures to commemorate the event (more on our other blog post HERE).

We’re getting a new building and we are all overjoyed! The Special Collections Building is a project that has been more than a decade in the making for the UGA Libraries. The new facility will house the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection. Currently, all these entities (and accompanying faculty and staff persons) are housed in the Main Library on North campus. Although our current space is much loved and has been good to us over many years, it does not provide for the space and climate needs of our collections. The move to the new building will free up nearly 50,000 square feet inside the Main Library – making more room for general collections as well as increased study space for students. The new building – approximately 115,000 square feet – will be located on Hull Street; a view of ongoing construction can be found by clicking HERE. It will include customized climate control, increased gallery space for exhibits, classroom spaces to integrate materials into instruction, spaces for special events, and – best of all – enough room for nearly 40 years of collection growth. Estimates project that the building will be completed between 18 and 22 months from the time of the groundbreaking, so keep your fingers crossed.

Now you have the basic facts. What we’d like to do here on the Russell Library blog is give you – our readers – some more insight into the backbreaking, mind bending work that will go into moving our collections into this new space. Have you ever moved into a house, taken years to settle in, accumulated lots of new stuff and found just the right place for all of your possessions? Only to move again for greener pastures? Right, well the Russell Library has been in its current location – in the lower level of the Main Library building – since it opened, in 1974. We have grown tremendously in that time and, like a fish that grows to the size of its bowl, we are now too big for our current digs. Over the next year we will ready our nearly 300 collections comprised of manuscripts, three dimensional objects, oversized framed objects, maps, audiovisual materials photographs, books, scrapbooks, and office materials (roughly 13,000 linear feet of material) for the journey to their new home. Because of the types of materials we have, this process is more challenging than your typical move – hiring big, strong men to pack and lift boxes. It involves a full assessment of all we have and careful plotting as to how to transport and store these items in a new climate controlled space with limited staff access.

Week to week, as we go through the motions of our preparation for the move we will update the blog with progress reports, vents of frustration, insights into the process – a backstage pass to the roadshow that is moving an archives. Hopefully, in the end we’ll have a great record of this move project AND can give everyone a better idea about what we have and what we do here at Russell Library.

Let’s start small. I quoted above that we have around 13,000 linear feet of material – so what is a linear foot? The picture below shows a standard document archival storage box, the kind which houses many of our documents.

This box = 1/2 linear foot. So, one linear foot equals: 2 of these boxes. In documents alone, we will have over 20,000 boxes to lug to Hull Street. This estimate does not include the audiovisual materials, books, loose materials and artifacts that must also be transported. What is the best way for all of these items to make the move? Tune in for our next post and we’ll try to make some headway!

Here we have 10.5 linear feet...

More linear feet...now you're getting the picture

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Solidarity Forever

Wednesday March 31st marked the end of the Life and Legacy of Jeannette Rankin Program Series…at least for now. The JR130 Committee and co-sponsors hosted six successful events during Women’s History Month 2010 in celebration of the 130th anniversary of Jeannette Rankin’s birth. Each event shed some light onto Rankin’s life and provided contemporary viewpoints on many of the ideas she was devoted to during her political career and years of activism – peace, anti-isolationism, participatory voting, and fair labor practices. Yesterday afternoon the final program, called “Workplace Justice Then and Now” brought an energetic close to the Committee’s efforts.

Dr. Pamela Voekel, Professor of History at UGA, started the program with some perspectives on Jeannette Rankin and her ties to the fight for fair labor practices during her first term in the U.S. Congress (1917-1919). Voekel recounted Rankin’s attention to the sexual harassment and overwork of female employees at the U.S. Government Printing Office – how she invited the women into her Washington, D.C. apartment to develop a plan of action and then advocated for their rights -- for fair labor practices and working hours-- on the floor of the House. Voekel recalled Rankin’s decision to side with mine workers of the Anaconda Copper Company in her home state of Montana, who initiated a walkout following a massive mine collapse which killed more than a hundred workers. Though Rankin knew she was committing political suicide, siding with workers against business interests which dominated the state, she defended their right to fair pay and safer working conditions. As a result, Rankin was not re-elected to a second term in the House. Led by a local musician on guitar, the audience launched into a few verses of the famed labor song, “Solidarity Forever” (set to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”), aided by helpful lyric sheets.

Bethany Moreton, a Professor of History and Women’s Studies at UGA followed Voekel and shared a great overview of labor struggles, particularly those of women and African Americans, from the New Deal through today. After this overview, Moreton focused on some stark examples of economic disparities present in the U.S. labor market She pointed to the fact that while the level of education for Americans is increasing, the pay scale is not – indicating that many Americans with a college degree or higher will end up in low paying, benefit free jobs. Outlining the outcomes of recent wage theft cases against corporations like Walmart and IBM, she pointed out that worker exploitation isn’t something limited low-wage positions, but is a threat to those in white collar jobs as well. In the end, Moreton appealed to the crowd with a simple question: why not make the jobs better? If we can’t guarantee that everyone will get their dream job after completing high school, college, or even graduate school, can’t we at least try to make sure that all workers are well compensated for their work and receive benefits? For many college students facing graduation in a few weeks and many recent graduates who have been unable to find great first jobs Moreton’s appeal resonates in a new way than in better economic times.
At the conclusion of the program, both presenters described efforts at the University of Georgia and other schools across the southeast that are making them a regional force for activism. Students from the Living Wage Coalition spoke briefly about their work on campus to raise the wages of University employees and invited attendees to an upcoming rally being held on campus next week. Though the facts presented during the talks were sobering, the presenters brought great energy and hopefulness to the topic . Certainly, everyone in the room left with much to think about, especially in terms of the plight of the local community and campus.
As we face the end of the program series, the JR130 Committee is hopeful that attendees will do what Jeannette Rankin did at the end of her political career – keep moving forward. Rankin was an activist who traveled extensively until her death in 1973 (at the age of 92!) and continued to advocate for the causes she believed in, always looking forward to new challenges. JR130 is planning more events for the coming summer and fall – so keep your ear to the ground!

One last shout out to all the co-sponsors for the event series – none of this could have happened without the following individuals and entities:

JR130 committee with generous support and assistance from the following co-sponsors: Jeannette Rankin Foundation, Athens-Clarke County Library, Oconee County Library; and the following University of Georgia Units -- Institute for Women's Studies, Willson Center for Arts and Humanities, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Department of History, and Women's Studies Student Organization.

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library