The Challenges of Making Erwin Sibley’s Papers Accessible

One of the longtime collections most recently made more publicly accessible in Special Collections are the U. Erwin Sibley papers. This collection came to Special Collections in two parts. The majority of the collection was transferred to Georgia College from the Mary Vinson Public Library in 1982, and the addition of the Sibley & Sibley series was donated from a family member in 2004. There’s a more than 30-year gap from the time the papers were acquired to the time we put the finding aid online, but for good reason! Due to the nature of some files, they needed intensive review, so it was all hands on deck to make this more accessible to our researchers.

For those unfamiliar with Sibley, he was born and raised in Baldwin County, where he was widely known and respected in his practice of law. He attended Georgia Military College and graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Laws in 1910. A year later, he formed a law firm called Sibley & Sibley with his brother, and in 1914 went on to become the secretary of W.H. Fish, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. In 1930, he and associate Marion Allen created the firm Allen & Sibley, a firm that significantly influenced life in Milledgeville, making Sibley a foremost member of his profession.

Sibley
Kodachrome slide of Ulysses Erwin Sibley

Continue reading “The Challenges of Making Erwin Sibley’s Papers Accessible”

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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”