The Exhibit for the First Annual African American Read-In

On Thursday, February 15th, Ina Dillard Russell Library held its first African American Read-In, an opportunity that invites students, faculty, and staff to read from the works of their favorite authors and some of the most remarkable African Americans in our history. It is meant to serve as a sort of “open mic” celebration, where participants are encouraged to recite and/or perform pieces of creative nonfiction, fiction, spoken word, poetry, etc. About 70 students, as well as numerous faculty and staff, participated in the event.

Special Collections was asked to create a small exhibit to supplement the read-in, to create a display for students to not only to consider, but interact with. We decided to set our focus on three local and influential African American individuals — Former Georgia State Senator Floyd L. Griffin Jr.; Reverend Wilkes B. Flagg, founder of Flagg Chapel Baptist Church; and well-renowned activist and author, Alice Walker. For each, we picked memorabilia, documents, and other artifacts from each respective collection that represented their greatest and most stirring accomplishments. Because the exhibit operates on a small scale, narrowing the materials proved difficult. Continue reading “The Exhibit for the First Annual African American Read-In”


Usery: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

You first heard of W.J. Usery, Jr. last spring when several of us in Special Collections drove out to the former Secretary of Labor’s estate to collect some of his materials. I wrote a blog post on what it means to do an “archival appraisal.” We spent a morning sorting through memorabilia, packaging picture frames, and cataloguing information we would need after acquiring his collection.

This semester we’ve cleared shelf space within the archive to make room for Usery’s dense and impressive collection. We joke that he is becoming this academic year’s James C. Bonner, meaning we expect Usery materials to pop up well after we’ve closed each box and considered the collection finished. Not unlike Floyd Griffin, a phrase Brendan and I have come to use quite frequently while cataloguing Usery’s materials is “this man did everything.” From being one of the greatest allies and progressive forces for labor union workers to mediating some of the United States’ biggest disputes, Usery’s positive influence has directly and indirectly touched the lives of many. From awards of high recognition and honor to framed photographs with Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and others, it’s easy to see from these materials that Usery had a hand in political change for decades. Continue reading “Usery: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

Caro Lane Receives the Golden Deeds Award

Shayla Burnett is one of our two Student Service Opportunity Award Fellows in Special Collections this year. She is a freshman at Georgia College majoring in Exercise Science.

On my first day volunteering in Special Collections, I was shown the archive’s public and private spaces in the library, which consist of many boxes of manuscript collections, exhibits, and old books. After Holly gave me a tour, she gave me my first assignment — to rearrange the files and finding aid of a collection of my choosing. I chose the Caro Lane papers. The files of Caro Lane consist of personal correspondence, certificates of awards and appreciation, and her nomination for the Golden Deeds Award (along with Golden Deeds newspaper clippings, photographs, and other miscellaneous items). Continue reading “Caro Lane Receives the Golden Deeds Award”

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”

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”

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?)”