Decorate Your Dorm Room in 5 Easy Steps! (Circa 1891)

The dream of the 1890s may be alive in Portland, but this week we’re bringing the 1890s alive in Milledgeville. Welcome back to part two of a three part series on Georgia Normal and Industrial College life, fashion, behavior, and education at the founding of G.N. & I.C. and the turn of the century in Milledgeville. After reading about the fashion and uniforms of the college in 1891, you may be wondering where these girls kept their uniforms and rested their heads for full days of studying. To answer those questions, we’re going to dive into room and board.

One of the biggest points of stress for today’s students is the small, yet imperative question of what their freshmen dorm room will look like! Everywhere from Target to Walmart to Bed, Bath, and Beyond has college essential checklists, and students across the Georgia College campus coordinate their color schemes, tapestries, and Christmas lights, and compete for a chance to win Best Decorated Dorm Room in the many diverse dorm buildings across campus – ranging from Bell Hall on Main Campus; Sanford, Parks, Foundation, Napier, and Parkhurst Halls by the Centennial Center; and the Village Apartments on West Campus.

Upon our founding, still struggling to see if this experiment in women’s industrial (or women’s technical) school would come to fruition and success, the only dorm available was the Executive Mansion, or known by its common name around Milledgeville, the Old Governor’s Mansion. The Mansion stopped housing governors after General Thomas H. Ruger, the military governor of Georgia, left the building in 1868; after this abandonment, it had fallen into disrepair and served an ever changing list of uses including flophouse (a very cheap, run down, boarding house) and as a home and dormitory for the President and Cadets at Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College. Among other elements of disrepair include an 1870 kitchen fire, leaking around the dome, and a herd of goats that took up residence on the front lawn.

With all of these problems, how could the mansion ever hope to house these young women? With no source of funding readily apparent to the newly elected directors of the college, it seemed like this housing issue was insurmountable. However, this was solved by the faith the people of Milledgeville placed in the success of the college by voting for bonds to assist construction, $5,000 of which was bookmarked specifically for the purposes of refurbishing the Mansion. This money went towards refurbishing the building by replacing the plaster with stained wood ceilings, the window blinds with inside shutters, and placing a gothic cupola over the dome, as well as towards constructing 35 dormitories.

Photo of Executive Mansion 1891 scanned from A Centennial History of Georgia College

Continue reading “Decorate Your Dorm Room in 5 Easy Steps! (Circa 1891)”



What is approximately one meter long, comprised of twenty two silvery and spindly aluminum reeds, two brass cuffs inscribed with historical dates and locations, a grip made of Georgia pecan wood, has symbolically had thousands of hands clutching its center, and is notably burned to a crisp at the top? (I know, I know; it could be anything, and an archive full of objects fit the bill).

I have just described the 1996 Olympic Games torch. full_length_olympictorch

On a summer night in a quiet small town in middle Georgia, a well known community leader traveled across the expansive greenery of Georgia College’s main campus, Olympic torch ablaze in hand, determined to reach the end of his relay, while dozens of pairs of eyes watched from the sidelines, a crowd of people illuminating Milledgeville, Georgia as considerably as the Olympic flame. Since 2015, it has been in the possession of Special Collections at the Ina Dillard Russell Library.

The idea for the Olympic flame was first introduced in the 1928 Amsterdam Games where it burned bright and remained lit through the entire two-week ceremony. It has been a tradition ever since. In 1936, the first relay from Olympia to Berlin was introduced by Dr. Carl Diem (who served as the Secretary General of the Organizing Committee for the Games that year) and has also remained a tradition ever since. Scholars on Ancient Greece say the flame burns in dedication to the Geek God Hera, the goddess of marriage and family and the Queen of Olympus. What started out as an ode to a figure of Greek mythology has become intrinsic in the passing of the Olympic flame, a flame that represents “the light of spirit, knowledge, and life”. Continue reading “Torched”

Brown is the New Black: Uniforms at Georgia College, 1889-1934

Today, we will be starting a series looking at the history of Georgia College, specifically at its founding in 1889 as Georgia Normal and Industrial College. G.N & I.C. was quite different from the campus of today, with only one campus building, four departments teaching everything from pedagogy to sewing, and one dorm – the Executive Mansion. Today’s first post will be looking at the uniform, mandatory from 1889 to 1934.

Did you, dear reader, suffer through a uniform in your high school days? Perhaps ill fitting shirts, too long skirts, and color combinations that made you resemble an American Flag or Christmas Tree were all part of your high school experience. Now can you imagine carrying that tradition on into your college years? That is precisely what Georgia College required from founding in 1891 as Georgia Normal and Industrial College, until 1934, coincidentally or not so coincidentally coinciding with the creation of the first Student Government Association.

I was intrigued by the history of the uniform at G.N & I.C. when reprocessing the James C. Bonner collection for the past few weeks to reassess the organization of the collection and reduce the amount of folders. Dr. Bonner was the chair of the Georgia College History Department from 1944-1969 and was one of the original authors of A Centennial History of Georgia College along with Dr. Dawson and Dr. Hair and had some great gems related to the history of Georgia College. Included among these is a letter from President Chappell to accepted students from 1891 detailing the intricacies of making the uniform which were two suits – one for basic for day to day purposes (also called fatigue) and the other for dress occasions.

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Continue reading “Brown is the New Black: Uniforms at Georgia College, 1889-1934”

Scrapbooking Vs. Archiving

Miranda Campbell is one of our Graduate Assistants in Special Collections this year. She holds a B.A. in Film–Cinema Studies from University of Central Florida and is a first year graduate student in Georgia College’s M.F.A. program.

Aimlessly searching through our Special Collections archives, I discovered a compilation of scrapbooks associated with the school, scrapbooks that have been donated through the years and have fallen under the many name changes the school has had: Georgia Normal and Industrial College, Georgia State College for Women, Georgia College at Milledgeville, etc.

Flipping through these scrapbooks I started to realize that it sort of felt the same as the project I’d been tackling at work for the past couple weeks. Mikaela and I—Special Collections’ other graduate assistant—had been given the task of re-appraising and re-processing the entire collection of Dr. James Calvin Bonner, a notable figure of Georgia College responsible for heading the History Department for twenty five years. Bonner was Chairman of the Department of History and Political Science from 1943 to 1969, a time when the school was known as G.S.C.W.

In short, re-processing is the sifting through and sorting of archival letters, photos, manuscripts, what we’ve been donated, etc., and ordering it in a way that is accessible for researchers interested in the collection, through which we create a finding aid. We seemed to have fallen down a rabbit hole with this collection, as it has taken up the better portion of our work time for the past three weeks.

Most recently in the Bonner collection we’ve stumbled upon what at first looked like a bottomless box filled with photographs, but what we quickly realized were collections of thoughtfully placed photographs that Bonner himself glued on single sheets of paper. We then imagined he stuck these pages in binders since the papers have the mark of three ringed holes on the left hand side. In figuring out where to home this newly processed box – if it should be its own series or be absorbed into another – we learned that Bonner called these notebooks, though most of the pages are comprised as photos with captions and other paper stubs that match or add to the material. We continued along this new label called “Local History Notebooks,” however, it got me thinking how the pages were so similar to the resemblance and style of a scrapbook.  This started another rabbit hole in an infinite amount of rabbit holes and conundrums that make Special Collections the special place it is, and is the train of thought that inspired this post! (And how fitting that it is American Archives Month!) Finding these radically different scrapbooks that serve as a magnifying glass laid over the years at this university, the different name changes its endured, made me realize that scrapbooking is a lot like archiving, just a little more fun. It’s archiving with a part hat on. Continue reading “Scrapbooking Vs. Archiving”

All the News, All the Time: Alternative Presses at Georgia College

Mikaela LaFave is one of our Graduate Assistants in Special Collections this year. She holds a B.A. in English from Georgia College and is now a first year student in the department’s masters program.

For anyone coming of age in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the words counter culture, underground newspaper, and zine may have an almost mythic status. For those of us born a little to late, here’s a refresher course. An underground newspaper was a form of publication popular in the 60s and 70s in major North American cities and were a group of loosely related, radicalized newspapers. While the term underground is a bit of a misnomer (these newspapers published openly), they deliberately flaunted the social conventions of the day and called for revolutionary overthrow. Georgia had its own underground newspaper called The Great Speckled Bird, which published from 1968 to 1976, that you can find digitized from Georgia State University. The Bird, as it’s commonly styled, was an advocate for both national and local change in the city of Atlanta. Zines were another popular form of spreading news untouched by traditional media. Short for “fanzine,” zines existed as a means of self-expression for those unable to publish in the mainstream. Both of these methods provided an outlet for those from the 60s to the 90s who felt that their voice needed to be heard.

What might surprise you is that a little slice of the counter culture has made it to Milledgeville through self proclaimed alternative presses of the 1990s and into the present! Today, we will be taking a look at the different publications of the Georgia College student body; whether interested in spreading news not published elsewhere, provide another outlet for students to express themselves, or simply find a candidate to place on the ballot for Mayor of Milledgeville in the 90s, alternative presses have had a varied history in our town of literary fame.

We’ll first take a trip back the the 90s, when most of our current students at the college were just being born and flannel was the hottest trend. Starting in 1993 and running until 1995, students were able to pick up a copy of the Mooncalf Press, available at bars downtown – some still there, like the Brick, and others that have disappeared in favor of the changing downtown scene. Styling itself as an underground newspaper, as well as a zine, Mooncalf allowed its contributors to muse about life in Milledgeville around the growing alternative music and culture scene of the 90s. Continue reading “All the News, All the Time: Alternative Presses at Georgia College”