Braves

The Gwinnett Braves, the AAA-affiliate of the major-league Atlanta Braves, have announced that they will be changing their name for the 2018 season (although they will still be affiliated with Atlanta). You might think that this is another example of the desire to eschew Native American symbolism in sports team naming, but it is only a desire to avoid confusion with the major league team – Gwinnett being close enough to Atlanta to be considered the same market. There is a shortlist of six finalists, and you can vote for the name you prefer; being a historian, my personal favorite is the “Gwinnett Buttons.” (Button Gwinnett, representative to the Second Continental Congress from Georgia and signatory to the Declaration of Independence, is the namesake of Gwinnett County. I had not known that he was killed in a duel in 1777 – come to think of it, the “Gwinnett Duellers” would also be a good name for the team.)

Symposium

I just received word of this. It looks interesting:

A SYMPOSIUM AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES AT ATLANTA

5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, Georgia
Saturday, September 16, 2017
9:00 – 4:30

The holdings of the National Archives at Atlanta include approximately 10,000 cubic feet of records relating to the World War I home front.  These records document the federal government’s attempts at food conservation, promotion of the war effort and the purchase of Liberty Bonds, as well intelligence investigations by the U.S. Navy. Other historical records tell the story of the 24 million men who registered for the Selective Service and of other men who were prosecuted and incarcerated for violating the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917. This year’s symposium, The Great War Over Here: Stories from the Home Front, encourages research in these diverse records, features scholars whose published works were based on these holdings, and promotes the discovery of new scholars from universities and colleges across the Southeast and the nation.

Presenters Include:

Dr. Ernest Freeberg, Professor of History and Department Chair, University of Tennessee, Author of Democracy’s Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, The Great War, and the Right to Dissent 

Dr. Jeanette Keith, Professor Emeritus, Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, Author of Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight: Race, Class, and Power in the Rural South during the First World War

Dr. Carol White, History Professor, Clayton State University, presenting on:Poetry of World War I

Nathan Jordan, Archives Specialist, National Archives at Atlanta, presenting on An Introduction to World War I Era Records Held at the National Archives at Atlanta

Joel Walker, Education Specialist, National Archives at Atlanta, presenting on Political Prisoners in the Atlanta Penitentiary: Anarchists, Socialists, Ministers, and More  

Pre-registration is required. Registration is free and limited to 200 participants.
To register online, go to: https://www.archives.gov/atlanta/symposiums/wwi
To register by email: atlanta.archives@nara.gov

Sponsored by the National Archives and Georgia Humanities.

GHRAC Graduate/Undergraduate Awards

I have been asked to help publicize these two awards, offered annually by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council:

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

2017 AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE

GRADUATE AND UNDERGRADUATE PAPERS OR PROJECTS IN GEORGIA HISTORY

GEORGIA HISTORICAL RECORDS ADVISORY COUNCIL (GHRAC)

The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) is now accepting nominations for its 2017 Awards for Excellence Program. The deadline for submission of award nominations is Thursday, June 1, 2017.

The GHRAC Awards Program recognizes excellence in historical research and scholarship utilizing archives and records, as well as other endeavors in archival and records management in Georgia, in 12 award categories. Two of the award categories are:

Award for Excellence in Student Research Using Historical Records, Graduate Level

and

Award for Excellence in Student Research Using Historical Records, Undergraduate Level.

GHRAC is requesting your assistance in bringing to its attention student work of excellent caliber, by nominating such work for one of these two awards.

Information about the GHRAC Awards Program is located on the website of the Georgia Archives, www.georgiaarchives.org. On the homepage, in the top blue banner, click on “About Us,” and then click on “Advisory Council” in the dropdown menu. Scroll down, and under the heading “Programs and Services,” click on the blue text which reads “Awards Program.” You can then click on links for the Nomination Form and instructions, the Award Categories and Selection Criteria for all 12 awards categories, and a list of all award recipients 2004 through 2016.

A nomination package consists of the one-page nomination form (please provide all requested contact information), a 500-word summary or project description, a copy of the work itself, and any supporting documentation necessary to appropriately portray the complete work (in the case of a project which includes an exhibit, a website, or an audiovisual, instructional, service, or performance component).

If submitted electronically, one copy of the nomination package should be emailed to:  christopher.davidson@usg.edu

If submitted as hard copy, six (6) complete nomination packages should be sent to:

GHRAC
Georgia Archives
5800 Jonesboro Rd.
Morrow, GA  30260

[Copies will not be returned.]

Nominators should pay particular attention to the following requirements:

  1. Georgia students who research and write in an area other than Georgia history or a Georgia subject must use the resources of Georgia records repositories to qualify for these awards.
  2. Student nominations which are self-nominated, or nominated by a family member, must be accompanied by a letter of support from a professor, teacher, adviser, or other appropriate representative of an organization or institution.

Award recipients are typically notified in August or September, and the annual GHRAC Awards Reception and Ceremony are typically held at the Georgia Archives in October.

Please share this solicitation of nominations widely with all interested parties whom you think might like to submit nominations.

If you have any questions about the preparation of a nomination, please contact:

Christopher Davidson
Director, Georgia Archives
christopher.davidson@usg.edu

or

Jill Sweetapple
Reference Archivist, Georgia Archives
jill.sweetapple@usg.edu

We look forward to receiving your nomination, and thank you for your participation in the 2017 GHRAC Awards for Excellence Program.

Georgia Regional PAT Conference 2017

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On Saturday, April 1, Reinhardt student Kyle Walker, alumnus Alex Bryant, and Prof. Jonathan Good traveled to Macon to participate in this year’s Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference. Many thanks to Abby Dowling and John Thomas Scott for their hard work in putting together a good one. Mercer last hosted this conference in 2011, and it was a pleasure to return, as the Mercer campus is gorgeous, especially in the spring. The papers I heard were all very good – especially Kyle’s, who spoke of how the domino theory of Communist expansion in southeast Asia was applicable to Indochina only, largely on account of all parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos all having been part of the French empire. Communism did not spread beyond these places because Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, etc. had different histories (i.e., communism and nationalism did not converge there, as it did in Indochina). Plus, the US commitment to containing communism entailed a great deal of support for the non-communist governments of these countries, which helped to protect them from that particular ideology. This was the silver lining of the Viet Nam war – it didn’t prevent the North from taking over the South, and from backing the Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge as they took power, but it did prevent the spread of communism beyond Indochina.

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Kyle Walker ’17 at the Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference, Mercer University, April 1, 2017.

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Participants in the “Eastern Front” session: chair Joshua van Lieu (LaGrange College), MiKaylee Smith (LaGrange), Daniel Garrett (LaGrange), Kyle Walker (Reinhardt).

The plenary session at lunch featured a very interesting presentation by Maurice Hobson of Georgia State University, professor of history and African-American studies, whose book The Legend of the Black Mecca: Myth, Maxim and the Making of an Olympic City is about to be released by UNC Press. Dr. Hobson’s talk, entitled “Using Hip Hop as History: From the Black New South to the Dirty South,” referenced W.E.B. Dubois, Atlanta’s first black mayor Maynard Jackson, the 1996 Summer Olympics, artists like OutKast and Goodie Mob, the Atlanta Child Murders, and Hobson’s own personal history, to demonstrate how not all African-Americans were uplifted by Jackson’s post-segregation New South.

Georgia Gwinnett College (home of former Reinhardt professor Pat Zander) has agreed to host this conference next year.

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Alex Bryant ’15 and Kyle Walker ’17 flank a Mercer bear.

GMG @ KSU

Another awesome meeting of the Georgia Medievalists’ Group took place today at Kennesaw State University. Thanks to Brian Swain for volunteering the venue. This one was particularly stimulating, with lengthy discussion after each paper. These were:

Tom McMaster, Kennesaw State University: “The Virginal Slave? Honor, slavery, and sanctity in the early medieval world”

Wendy Turner, Augusta University: “Irish and English Law on Treatment of the Mentally Impaired”

Alice Klima, University of Georgia: “Statutes as Structure: The Bohemian Monastery at Roudnice on the Elbe”

Brian Swain, Kennesaw State University: “Coping as a Roman Goth During a Roman-Gothic War: The Case of Jordanes”

Some photos:

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Tom MacMaster and Brian Swain.

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Wendy Turner, Andrew Kurt, Jamie MacCandless, and Christina Heckman.

The Georgia of Yesteryear

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via my friend Neal Brunt, a gallery of photos from Georgia in 1977. (As it happens 1977 was the first time I ever visited Georgia, on a family road trip to Disney World. My memories are not quite as vivid as these photos, however.) Check out number 17 of downtown Cartersville, and number 39, of the interior of the Varsity restaurant.

The James Dickey Review

The annual James Dickey Review is now being published at Reinhardt, as part of our new low-residency MFA program, “Story and Place in the New South.” Our first issue is now in print or available for download to Kindle (Amazon). I’m pleased to say that I have a piece in volume 32, a review of (or as I described it, a reaction to) Dickey’s most well-known novel, Deliverance (1970), which I read over last Christmas at the suggestion of the editor, Reinhardt’s VPAA Mark Roberts. I suppose it would be in bad taste to print the whole thing, but I’ll give you a teaser here:

I was born and raised in Canada. I attended college in New England and graduate school in the Midwest. Prior to 2004, when I was 33 and accepted a job at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia, I had spent very little time in the American South – less than a month in total, over the course of a few road trips. Just prior to our move, and to celebrate it, my wife and I watched Gone with the Wind, thinking that it might be a good idea to acquaint ourselves with this classic of Southern identity. It never occurred to me to watch Deliverance – even though Waleska is in the foothills of Appalachia and that movie is probably more pertinent to this particular milieu.

I was vaguely aware of Deliverance. Who hasn’t heard the “dueling banjos” duet? A college friend of mine liked to yell “squeeeal like a pig!” at random times, and another had a T-shirt that read “paddle faster – I hear banjo music!” I thought that I should see the film at some point, not only because of its supposed relevance to north Georgia, but because it is an important film as such, up there with such seventies gems as Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, and Taxi Driver. But around the time I had kids my movie watching declined precipitously and has not really recovered.

(If anything was holding me back, though, it was my suspicion that Deliverance was just as distorted as Gone with the Wind, but from the opposite point of view. Like Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo, would Deliverance be a voyeuristic depiction of the South for the titillation of blue-state Americans? I’ve grown quite fond of Georgia, and do not care for this sort of thing. “That movie set back our image by fifty years,” claims a former student of mine.)

I still have not seen the film. But in honor of Reinhardt’s acquisition of the James Dickey Review, I have now read the book. And I’m pleased to read that at least the original text was not a gratuitously negative portrayal of Appalachia.

Buy the issue to read the rest!

Stone Mountain

Yesterday I finally had the chance to visit Stone Mountain, a large granite monadnock formation to the east of Atlanta. In terms of sheer natural beauty it rivals Ayers Rock or Devils Tower; you can take a cable car to the top and explore the ethereal moonscape while admiring the distant Atlanta skyline.

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But this is not the primary significance of Stone Mountain. Carved into the north face is the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture… of the Confederate heroes Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, all riding their favorite horses (Black Jack, Traveller, and Little Sorrel, respectively). I’m afraid that for my visit the sun was in exactly the wrong position for photographs, so I am reduced to reproducing Wikipedia’s:

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This sculpture, which measures some 76 by 158 feet, dates from 1916 and, after many fits and starts, was finally completed in 1972. It is faced by a long, gently sloping lawn (where the people are sitting in the picture above); this is lined with memorials to the thirteen states of the Confederacy, and at the top, facing the sculpture, is Memorial Hall, which houses the Discovering Stone Mountain Museum. This museum deals with Stone Mountain and its surrounding community throughout history, including Indian occupation, the arrival of European settlers, the Civil War, granite quarrying in the nineteenth century, races to the top of the mountain in the twentieth century, the bicycling events of the 1996 Olympics, the politics and production of the sculpture itself, and yes, the founding of the second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan on the top of the mountain on November 25, 1915. Almost needless to say, this was designated as a “dark chapter” in the Mountain’s history; it was nice, though, that they acknowledged it, rather than pretending it didn’t happen.

But it seems that Stone Mountain wants to live down its Confederate associations as well. No, they’re not prepared to blow up the monument, as some have requested. But there’s more to the park than the sculpture, and very little of it is Confederate. You can visit the Great Barn, ride the Scenic Railroad, or enjoy the Yogi Bear 4-D Adventure (this is all provided by Herschend Family Entertainment, which has been contracted by the state of Georgia to run the place). Although it’s clear that the whole thing was once intended to be the “Southland’s Sacred Mount” – somewhat like the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa – and apparently the Stone Mountain Memorial Association retains the right “to reject any project deemed unfit,” they don’t seem to have any qualms about allowing the Laser Show Spectacular, projected after dark and only on certain nights onto the side of the mountain with the carving, accompanied by music and fireworks, or Snow Mountain, a series of slides and ramps on the lawn facing the sculpture, that will be covered in artificial snow for sledding come wintertime. Even the gift shop is completely devoid of Confederate memorabilia. Instead, there’s lots of American patriotism on display:

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And, on one postcard, even the sculpture itself has been defaced with a US flag, something unthinkable at one point.

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I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I don’t care much for the Lost Cause stuff you sometimes find around here, but if you’re going to have a memorial… man, have some respect!

A website entitled Shades of Gray: The Changing Focus of Stone Mountain Park has more information.

Oakland Cemetery

Our trip to Atlanta also included a visit to Oakland Cemetery (logo from their pamphlet).

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It dates from 1850 and occupies a 48-acre site between the Sweet Auburn and Grant Park neighborhoods, not far from the King Center and the Georgia State Capitol. Numerous famous Atlantans are interred here, among them:

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Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind.

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Bobby Jones, the most successful amateur golfer ever, and a founder of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters’ Tournament held there.

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Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor.

Of course, a large section is devoted to the Confederacy and the soldiers who died for it, whether known:

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Or unknown:

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At one point this obelisk was the tallest structure in Atlanta:

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Note, though, how they’ve tried to defang its message: all three of the federal, state, and city flags take precedence over the flag of the CSA, which of course is the original Stars and Bars, not the Battle Flag.

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There is also a segregation-era African-American section, and a Jewish section, along with the usual collection of interesting headstones and monuments.

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bricks chair kontz stump

Jimmy Carter

I do enjoy some local tourism from time to time. Yesterday we had a fun day in Atlanta, where we saw the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum (logo from Wikipedia).

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I had last visited the Museum in 2004 in my first semester at Reinhardt. Since then it has been renovated and looks nice, although I’m afraid it didn’t really compare to the ones we saw this summer. The biggest difference? The lack of friendly volunteers who could answer questions about Jimmy and his legacy. This made the whole place seem like it was suffering from a certain… malaise. You did, however, get to understand why he was elected in the first place: after Viet Nam and Watergate, such an earnest, honest outsider had a great deal of appeal to your average voter. The big room dealing with his achievements (like SALT II, the Panama Canal, the Camp David Accords, etc.) was interesting, especially as also contained references to contemporary events that form some of my earliest memories (e.g. the original Star Wars, the explosion of Mount St. Helens, “Who Shot J.R.?”, and the Miracle on Ice.)

Presidents get a lot of gifts in the course of doing their jobs. Here’s one from Mexico, a portrait of Carter in a “metaphoric style” by artist Octavio Ocampo.

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The pamphlet below was on display in the museum, but I actually took this picture last year at the Lake Acworth Antique and Flea Market. I thought that material from the 1976 election and a 8-track tape (featuring Bob Seger, natch) formed a nice combination.

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This photo, featuring Amy Carter and a ’76 election exercise, brought a smile to my face.

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Unfortunately, there wasn’t much on Billy and his beer.

The post-presidency section (including the Carter Center, numerous books, and the Nobel Prize) was nicely done.