Tales From the Back Stoop: 30 Fresh Perspectives on Milledgeville

Catherine James is one of our two Student Service Opportunity Award Fellows in Special Collections this year. She is a freshman at Georgia College majoring in Mass Communication.

Downtown Milledgeville, 1973
Downtown Milledgeville, as seen in 1973.

I am just about two months into my new life in Milledgeville and am almost entirely unaware of the stories, accounts, and histories that make up the quaint little town that I’m slowly learning to call home. Although, from what I’ve gathered in the bits and pieces of history that have been sprung on me through tours, classes, word of mouth, and even details as small as the names of certain campus buildings, Milledgeville has no shortage of rich history. I have only recently started assisting in Special Collections, and it has already taught me a tremendous amount about my new city that I would have otherwise most likely overlooked. Continue reading “Tales From the Back Stoop: 30 Fresh Perspectives on Milledgeville”

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A Milledgeville Legend: Floyd L. Griffin, Jr. and his collection

Floyd_Griffin_Military (1)Anything you can think of, Floyd Griffin has probably done in his lifetime.  From an illustrious military career to a Division II College Football Championship to a political career in Milledgeville and the State of Georgia to continuing active participation in the community, an active lifestyle seems like an understatement when I think of all Floyd has done.   Fortunately for me, I got to have an in depth look at his life and accomplishments as I cataloged the many items that were donated as part of his collection.

Floyd L. Griffin, Jr. was born in Milledgeville in 1944.  He graduated from Tuskegee University in 1966 with a Bachelor’s in Building Construction and then began his military career as helicopter pilot in Vietnam and as part of an Engineer company.  Shortly after returning home,  Griffin was stationed in Virginia and went to Florida Institute of Technology and received his Master’s in Contract and Procurement Management.  His military career would continue with 14 assignments including a tour in Germany and tour as an ROTC instructor at Winston-Salem State and Wake Forest.  He would also be a coach on the first WSSU football team to win the CIAA Division II college Football Championship.   His final assignment was as Director of Contracts and Construction in the U.S. Army Community Family Support Command in the Pentagon.   In 1990, Griffin retired from his esteemed military career as Colonel.   After returning to Milledgeville, he earned an Associates in Funeral Service from Gupton Jones College and began work in the family business as a funeral director and embalmer and eventual CEO at Slater’s Funeral Home. Continue reading “A Milledgeville Legend: Floyd L. Griffin, Jr. and his collection”

Lost and Found

Brendan Starr is one of our graduate assistants in Special Collections this year.  He holds a B.A. in History from Georgia College and is now a second year student in the department’s masters program.

Recently hired as a graduate assistant in Special Collections,  my first task was to finish processing the additions to the David M. Sherman papers and updating the finding aid to current standards. There were boxes of files and assorted objects that needed to be properly recorded in the finding aid for further use by students, researchers, and the public. Traditionally in an archive, collections come in faster than the archivists can process them. This creates backlogs in archives all over the world.  Between 1995-2005, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in College Park, Maryland, had  a backlog of two million boxes, which translates to billions of pieces of paper. All of those items have to be sorted and cataloged for further use. There are only so many archivists on staff, though, so the backlog at NARA is not going away anytime soon. Continue reading “Lost and Found”

A New Year and Archives 101

August 21, 2017 wasn’t just the coolest event I’ve witnessed (the total solar eclipse); it was also the first day of the fall semester here at Georgia College.

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The total eclipse, as seen from Greenwood, SC.

It brought an end to a very busy summer for Special Collections. Caroline Fry, our summer intern, has now left us, but we’ve added two new service learning fellows and one new graduate assistant. You’ll continue to see Miranda Campbell around these parts, but now we have Brendan Starr, Shayla Burnett, and Catherine James with us as well. As they write posts, we’ll introduce them properly.

Some of our summer adventures made it into blog posts or onto our Facebook page, but one that has not until now is the Archives 101 class I co-taught on August 5th. Special Collection sponsored the Society of Georgia Archives’ event, that was held at the Ina Dillard Russell Library at Georgia College, which provided basic archives training to librarians, historians, and volunteers with historical and genealogical organizations who were responsible for archival materials. We welcomed 20 attendees to the Ina Dillard Russell Library to talk through acquisitions, processing, preservation, access, and outreach — yes, in one day! Continue reading “A New Year and Archives 101”

See you later, Rev! (Maybe?)

Caroline Fry is working in Special Collections for the next three weeks as part of a for-credit internship through Georgia College. She is a junior majoring in Management Information Systems.

Although Special Collections is for the most part practically perfect in every way, mistakes still manage to occur every now and then — and sometimes they’re beyond our control. Recently we received several boxes of papers from Central State Hospital that belonged to Payton B. Cook, a clinical chaplain at the hospital from the 1960s-1990s who passed away in 1998 (you can read more about him here). Yesterday, we got a call saying that the Payton B. Cook papers that we acquired from the Central State Local Redevelopment Authority needed to be returned because we do not have the proper clearance to keep it at Georgia College. It turns out that when Mike Couch, the executive director of the Central State Local Redevelopment Authority, notified and gave us the papers, he thought that we had already signed an agreement with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities giving us clearance to have the contents. On our end, we assumed that he had already cleared it with the department before notifying us about the collection. Miscommunication is universal. In summary, the state didn’t technically give the papers to us, so we have to send them back and see if we get permission to acquire them again.

To put this situation into technical terms, Special Collections was not certified for chain of custody to hold Rev. Cook’s papers. We lacked legal custody of the collection and have to return it back to the Central State Hospital Museum while we wait for clearance to repossess the items. Continue reading “See you later, Rev! (Maybe?)”

The Tale of the Lost Marriage Certificate

In Special Collections, we’re used to unusual things popping up. It’s the very nature of a special collection. Recently, we received a call from Mike Couch at the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority because he had some papers in his office that he thought would be best placed with us. Construction workers, planning to demolish a building at Central State, decided these papers might be important, so they decided to hand them off to Mike. It turns out those were Payton B. Cook’s papers. Rev. Cook’s name is familiar to newer residents of Milledgeville mostly because his name is on a building on Vinson Road. However, longtime residents will recall Rev. Cook as a pillar of the community, whose accomplishments were recognized by the Georgia General Assembly upon his death in 1998.

Rev. Cook was a clinical chaplain at Central State Hospital in the 1960s through the 1990s. He was an African-American who helped to integrate the hospital’s administration, and while that is certainly important, what I’ve learned about Rev. Cook through inventorying his papers is just how much he meant to Milledgeville and Baldwin County as a true public servant. He served on numerous boards for the hospital, the local community, and the state, and he traveled the southeast to encourage students studying to become clinical chaplains and preach in pulpits large and small (usually Baptist and Methodist). Business leaders wrote letters to him asking for advice, and occasionally, the area elected officials reached out to him as well. There were also notes from his young daughter, reminding him to run errands for her while she was at school.

Rev. Cook had a very busy schedule, and perhaps that explains what we ran across today while inventorying his collection — an original marriage license from Peach County, Georgia, from 1970. Rev. Cook was the officiant, and he had completely filled out the form, but it had never been mailed. I thought at first he had handwritten a copy, but the form in my hands clearly said “county original.” My next thought was that Rev. Cook had likely misplaced this copy, yet mailed a second one. I realized I had better call Peach County Probate Court to be certain. Continue reading “The Tale of the Lost Marriage Certificate”

Mexotic-huh?

What do you get when you cross an uncensored and sexually exploitative art show put on by GCSU’s Art Department with a cacophony of performance reactions and concerns?

You get “Mexotica.”

In 2004, an art show put on by performance artist and writer Guillermo Gomez-Pena and a number of volunteers, in conjunction with the school’s Art Department, was held in Russell Auditorium. The reactions erupted discussion that traverses the entire spectrum.

Gomez-Pena works in a number of artistic mediums exploring cross-cultural issues, immigration, and the politics of language. His mixing and blending of genres and art forms, of truth and fiction, seeks to create a “total experience” for the viewer/reader. He is the creator of La Pocha Nostra–an online collaborative art laboratory for performance artists to link up and connect with other rebel artists. Its main function is to destroy borders separating people by race, gender, and other cultural differences. La Pocha Nostra’s mission statement is “to provide a base for a loose network and forum of rebel artists from various disciplines, generations, and ethnic backgrounds.” The term is meant to represent Mexican empowerment and to praise abnormality and indecency. Click on this interview for Guillermo’s detailed explanation of the where the name originates from.

The school’s Colonnade featured several articles of audience reaction following the performance. President Dorothy P. Leland, who was newly appointed president at the time, is quoted in the articles. Mexotica was the first visual arts performance she attended at GCSU, and what a way to acclimate her to the fine arts within the university. Gomez-Pena allowed students the freedom to wear what they wanted to wear and to perform what they wanted to perform and I think that’s one of the most important factors that went in to all of this. Performance is about trusting other artists. One student told The Colonnade that she felt like she was in the red light district; others felt it was fuel to confront issues regarding sexual exploitation. Continue reading “Mexotic-huh?”