Thursday, July 19, 2012

Intern Spotlight

Name: Ella Douglas

Hometown: Bishop, GA

Internship Period: Summer 2012

What am I doing here at the Russell Library?
I love museums and everything associated with them, making an internship in archives interesting and relevant to my career goals. This internship taught me about the different spheres of museums and archives, so now I must decide which aspect appeals to me most. During this internship, I took the Stovall and McKay Family Papers through the stages to make it available to the public. I went through the boxes, organized the contents into files, labeled everything, and wrote a finding aid, now available online.

Education: Pending a B.A. from Wake Forest University in Anthropology with a double minor in Linguistics and Classical Studies. I am now beginning the daunting task of thinking about graduate school.

I knew I was sucker for history when…
I learned about the Tudors in elementary school. I was particularly interested in the character of “Bloody Mary”. College steered me towards anthropology as I am fascinated by people and everything that comes along with the study of man. Reading the correspondence in the collection allowed me to learn about history, but not on the grand scale of events that comes from history classes, but the struggles and occurrences of daily life.

The best part of my internship so far…Has been meeting everyone who works here. They have been very welcoming and have tried to recruit me to each of their graduate alma maters! Besides that, I have enjoyed each stage of the internship. I appeased the neat-freak in me by organizing the correspondence. Writing the finding aid challenged me to succinctly summarize the collection. Also, I can now go online and see tangible evidence through the finding aid of what I accomplished this summer.

If I wasn’t spending time in the archives, my alter ego would be pursuing a career in…
Traveling for National Geographic. I want to travel wherever and whenever I want; my main goal is to visit all seven continents, four down and three to go!

On days off, I’ll be…Hanging out with my high school friends. Glimpsing at the world of employment with internships, we only have the weekends to spend together.

In five years I see myself…Hopefully with a Master’s degree and employed. Every day presents a different goal -- wavering between collections management, curator, and of course archives. I definitely like more urban settings, so I’ll probably settle in a city like Washington D.C., it has enough job options if nothing else!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Stump Has Landed

A crowd of people stand in the summer heat. They wave improvised fans back and forth to stay cool and mill about exchanging pleasantries and local gossip. The politician rises up in their midst atop a simple tree stump. From this familiar platform he speaks to the everyman, giving voice to concerns, using powerful words and gestures to stir, convince, and compel the audience. He delivers his message, holding attention if only for a few moments.

The expression “on the stump” originates with the 19th century America custom for candidates campaigning to make use of what was at hand to raise them above the crowd waiting to hear them speak.  In small rural towns tree stumps or logs were readily at hand and thus became the icon of the daily standard speech politicians gave throughout the long campaign season.  Over time “stump” was added to describe the central speech given by a politician working to stay “on message,” hammering home his or her key points to a new crowd every day.

Our man on the stump!
Dudley Mays Hughes campaigning for Congress in the early 1900s.
Today the politician no longer speaks from the tree stump of rural America, the wagon bed, or the hotel window. The stump is instead a radio broadcast, a cable news show, a website, or social media tool. Technology has changed the style and speed of delivery, but the sentiment remains the same. Modern politicians still mount their platforms and attempt to stir their audience with a compelling message.

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies values the enduring tradition of the stump. This icon of American representative democracy graces the floor of the lobby space in our exhibit gallery as a reminder of the dynamic relationship between politics, policy and culture – generated wherever public interest intersects with government. Using this framework of perspectives and experiences, the Russell Library encourages visitors to explore the increasingly diverse people, events, and ideas shaping Georgia’s political landscape.

Since opening the galleries in February, our stump was a stand-in. The wooden circle in the middle of the seal was a plywood place holder, inserted temporarily while we waited for the real stump. The final piece of wood -- a disk taken from a 150-year-old Georgia white oak that lived, thrived, and fell recently in southwest Atlanta -- was given many months to dry under the careful watch of the carpenters at Watson Springs, so that once installed in the floor the chance of it continuing to expand and contract would be relatively small. And after months of waiting, today our stump was installed by Landus Bennett and Richard Shrader of Watson Springs. We thank these fine folks for taking such excellent care of this centerpiece in our gallery space -- it looks fantastic and we can't wait for visitors to step onto the stump and make proclamations!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Remembering Skylab

Or for those of you born after 1979: Skylab, not just a 90s era electronica band

On July 11, 1979, the abandoned U.S. space station Skylab burned up in the atmosphere.  Around the world people worried that debris from the lab would land on them, and NASA officials calculated the odds of station re-entry debris hitting a human were 1 to 152. Fortunately, most of the debris landed in the Great Australian Desert and no one was injured.  Skylab was a precursor to the space station.  

Georgia Congressman John W. Davis (second from left) with the first crew for Skylab in 1973.  Davis served on the Science and Astronautics Committee (1961-1974) chaired the Subcommittee of Science, Research, and Development.  He was also a big fan of the space program.
The Russell Library has many collections that document the United States Space Program:
Great keywords for browsing in the collections database include: Space,  National+Aeronautics+Space+Administration, N.A.S.A., and yes, even Skylab!

First Person Project Rolls Out!

Dana Miller and Skip Hulett, following First Person Project Interview #1,
in the Bob Short Oral History Studio, Richard B. Russell Library Gallery.
On Friday, June 22, the Russell Library inaugurated the First Person Project, an oral history series inspired by the belief that everyone is an eyewitness to history, and that everyone, sometimes with a little encouragement, has a story to tell. Modeled roughly on StoryCorps, a national initiative with partners including National Public Radio and the Library of Congress, First Person Project is much smaller in scale but similar in concept, providing tools to would-be oral history interviewers and interviewees, including tips on how to create questions and conduct interviews.  Then we pair the participants with an audio technician and studio space -- in the form of the Bob Short Oral History Studio in the Richard B. Russell Library Gallery -- and record the resulting interview, which is archived at the Russell Library.

Our first session was a tremendous success. We recorded three interviews that, since we were "beta testing," included UGA Libraries personnel as interviewer or interviewee.  Dana Miller and Skip Hulett, from the Hargrett Library, set the bar high, with Dana interviewing Skip regarding Mitchell Terry Mincey, a death row inmate who was executed in Bibb County in October 2001.  Skip, a newspaper reporter before coming to work at UGA, had known Mincey since covering Mincey's murder trial in 1982. Skip's story of their relationship until Mincey's death illuminates an aspect of Mincey's story that might not otherwise have been told, and also tells us a lot about Skip. Credit where it's due, also, to Dana Miller, who demonstrated all the traits of a good interviewer. Here's the interview:

We hope to announce the next session of the First Person Project soon. In the meantime, be sure to check out the FPP website for more information.