Category: history

Keepers of Black Women's History


leeThe Root is an online publication originally developed by the Washington Post and edited by American literary critic, writer and scholar Henry Louis Gates. The Root recently published a list of the Keepers of Black Women's History, an elite list of scholars "using thier classrooms, their research and their writing to make sure we know the full story of black women in America." Among the distinguished list is our own Chana Kai Lee:

Lee, an associate professor of history (Lee holds a joint appointment between the department of history and the Institute for African American Studies) at the University of Georgia, is the author of For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer. The book won the Willie Lee Rose Prize, awarded by the Southern Association for Women Historians, and the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, awarded by the Association of Black Women Historians.

A few others on the list include:

  • Paula Giddings, Smith College
  • Tera Hunter, Princeton University
  • Darlene Clark Hine, Northwestern University
  • Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harvard University
  • Martha Jones, University of Michigan
  • Fransciose Hamlin, Brown University
  • Thavolia Glympth, Duke University
  • Heather Williams, University of North Carolina

That's great company to be in. We salute these great American scholars for their work in bringing us the stories (and the history) of who we are.

Image: Chane Kai Lee courtesy of the department of history.

Lampost post


lamppost2.jpg   lampost3_0.jpg  Maybe because it's Spring Break, but can you resist a lamppost post? Certainly, I cannot.

If you every wondered why North Campus has the look and feel of park, it is because UGA has some of the best grounds crew professionals you will find anywhere. They're at it again, this time, taking the time and care to replace the 100-year-old lampposts near the arch:

Installed in June 1914 by the Athens Rail and Light Company, the lampposts were the first row of electric lights at UGA and the first significant outdoor electric light installation in Athens. After 100 years of service, the lights have deteriorated and become unreliable, said Dexter Adams, director of the UGA Grounds Department.

The preservation project will comprehensively update the wiring, lamps and footings and replace missing cast iron parts. The Facilities Management Division will use the same metal preservation process on the lampposts as it used on the North Campus fence restoration project.

1914. And you wonder why campus just has that feel - there's one reason. One among many.

Images: beautiful Dot Paul photo from last summer (UGA Photo services) and one by the author during the most recent snow.

Understanding the Past, 1/10th of a second at a time


Nicolas_Poussin paintingAn interesting take from one of the Chronicle of Higher Ed blogs on the humans systems implications of our increasing ability to subdivide time into tinier and tinier increments:

Yet we are still some way off coming to terms with analyzing these developments. They require mathematical expertise that is still in short supply. One of the most exciting academic developments of recent years has been the way in which mathematics and statistics suited to these phenomena have begun to sprout. Just as mathematicians have developed who specialize in life sciences, it seems likely that the same will happen in the social sciences and that, before long, such mathematicians will no longer be a rare breed.

Equally, there is a conglomeration of activity that brings together the arts and humanities, design, and computational science based around what might be called the aesthetics of immediacy, a longstanding Western cultural tradition first found in the realm of timekeeping (as my book with Paul Glennie, Shaping the Day, on the genesis of clock time shows), which is changing yet again as technological improvements allow new kinds of temporal representation.

Happy Monday.

Image: Time defending Truth against the attacks of Envy and Discord, 1641, by Nicolas Poussin, oil on canvas. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Jordan is So Chilly


To mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of "Strange Fruit," Lillian Smith's best-selling novel about interracial love, the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries presents "Jordan is So Chilly: An Encounter with Lillian Smith," a solo performance drawn largely from unpublished autobiographical writings by the author.

The performance title "Jordan is So Chilly," comes from the name of an African-American spiritual and was Smith's original title for "Strange Fruit."

"The title calls up for me the image of the difficult times faced by anyone in crossing over to the ‘promised land'," [Atlanta actress Brenda] Bynum said. "Lillian Smith faced so many trials and tribulations in her life and her work it seemed quite appropriate to me."

Nancy Smith Fichter, the author's niece, approached Bynum about doing a reading, perhaps from Smith's published letters, as an event at the Lillian E. Smith Center for Creative Arts in connection with the 2013 Southern Literary Trail.


"No Southerner was more outspoken in expressing moral indignation about the region's injustices and inequities during the pre-civil rights era than Lillian Smith," said UGA history professor John Inscoe, an expert on the 19th century South and winner of the 2012 Lillian Smith Book Award, presented by the UGA Libraries and the Southern Regional Council.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is on Saturday Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.

'12 Years a Slave' Roundtable


12yas-poster-artHeads up for a great event next Friday, Franklin College faculty headline what's sure to be a substantive discussion in the lead up to this year's Academy Awards:

A roundtable panel on director Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" on Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. in Room 148 of the Miller Learning Center will bring together University of Georgia faculty members to discuss the Academy Award-nominated 2013 film. The event is the latest in an ongoing series of Cinema Roundtables sponsored by the UGA Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

The panel of faculty members is Valerie Babb, professor of English and director of the Institute for African American Studies; John Inscoe, Albert B. Saye Professor of History and University Professor; Rielle Navitski, assistant professor of theatre and film studies; and Freda Scott Giles, associate professor of theatre and film studies. Richard Neupert, Wheatley Professor of the Arts, will moderate the discussion.


The roundtable will "confront the challenges of adapting Solomon Northrup's memoir about slavery for contemporary movie audiences," Neupert said. "Is it good ‘history'? Is it good ‘cinema'?"

Great job faculty, and the Wilson Center. Events like these simply would not take place save for engaged faculty and motivated sponsoring units around campus.

Spotlight on History



LeConye.jpgLooking back for the future

By Jessica Luton           

 William Faulkner's famous lines from Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It's not even past,” supply an important reminder about how history stays with us—and how only in trying to understand it can we make sense of the present and prepare for the future.

The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of history is home to a wealth of opportunity for both students and faculty engaged in research topics that continue to inform us about our world through the lens of the past.

Every semester, the department produces a newsletter highlighting the latest and the greatest from the department.  This semester’s newsletter includes profiles of students and faculty and highlights the truly diverse areas of study. This issue includes a profile of Husseina Dinani, a faculty member with a focus on teaching African History, Gender & Sexuality, and Women’s History; a profile of graduate student Matthew C. Hulbert, a fourth year Ph.D. student studying Civil War memory and guerrilla warfare in the western border states of Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas; a profile of graduate student Katie Fialka, a Ph.D. student studying 19th century cultural and intellectual history and women and gender and the U.S. South; and a profile of undergraduate history student Greyson Clark whose interests include the industrialization of the Georgia Poultry Industry in the 1950s and ‘60s.  This collection of profiles is a testament to the department’s ability to attract students with interests in a wide range of perspectives.

A great collection of work, collected all in one place. For alums as well as friends of history at UGA, the newsletter also includes the latest news from within the department.        

You can check out the newsletter here. And, as always, you can learn more about the UGA department of history at the department website.

Image: The home of history in the Franklin College, LeConte Hall (lovely portrait courtesy of UGA photoservices).

Kennedy Assassination, 50 years later


It is one of the lowest moments in United States history, a day that stands hallowed for all the wrong reasons, shrouded in mystery and unanswered questions in every direction. On the 50th anniversary of the assassination, the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection present a Peabody Decades Roundtable on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Russell Building Special Collections Library:

"50 Years Since the Kennedy Assassination." A screening of "JFK: A Time Remembered" followed by a panel discussion featuring Ashton Ellett, history, Trey Hood, political science, Janice Hume, journalism, and Donald Wilkes, law.

The program will pay tribute to President Kennedy and his legacy and examine the impact of his assassination then and now.

Ellett's research focuses on the political, diplomatic and social history of post-World War II and Cold War American society. Hood's research interests include southern politics and gun control policies. Hume studies the relationship between American journalism and collective memory; she is the author of "Journalism and a Culture of Grief."  Wilkes has written more than 30 articles about the Kennedy assassination.

We have enough difficulty understanding the present, and as much as history also gives us problems, recent history can be more complex and murky. No doubt our country took a turn on Nov. 22, 1963. But towards where? Luckily there are films like this and media archives like the Brown and Peabody to help us think about that event and try to understand ourselves and our past a bit better. We need all the help we can get.

The Georgia Virtual History Project: Seen/Unseen


GVHP 2.jpgArt exhibition presents Georgia History up close



Visitors to Saturday’s opening reception for the ATHICA and Georgia Virtual History Project exhibit “Seen/Unseen” were treated to a display of digital local history projects by UGA and Athens Academy students, as well as artworks and archival pieces by local artists and residents.

Many of the pieces were of particular importance to the documentation of the local Athens community’s oft-overlooked enslaved African Americans and African American history in Athens.

Co-curated by Hope Hilton of ATHICA and Franklin College department of history instructor and director of the Georgia Virtual History Project Christopher Lawton, the exhibit was an example of local history from a collaborative perspective—with historians, teachers, students, artists and citizens contributing to the collective historical documentation.

At the reception, guests were treated to opening remarks from the curators, as well as some oral history storytelling from artists about the items that were on display.

The Georgia Virtual History Project gets students and the collective citizenry involved in the constructing the historical landscape and provides access to everyone with access to the Internet.

Beyond being a simple website project, the GVHP will also feature a mobile app.  Imagine standing in front of a building, with an iPad or iPhone, and learning about the history of that place with digital media, audio, video, written word and photographs, all contributed by students, historians and citizens alike.

The GVHP is an effort to use new and interactive technologies to record the history of the state of Georgia and make it available to multiple audiences, from eighth-graders and the general public to college students and academic professionals.

In its first stage, GVHP was built around original research and data collected and analyzed by faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students in multiple departments at the University of Georgia and by advanced high school students at Athens Academy. It has field tested local Athens components of the project with K-12 students both at Athens Academy and in the Clarke County School District. In fall 2013, it will expand to begin incorporating additional content developed by students and faculty at both Georgia State University and Columbus State University.

GVHP’s goal is to spread this model out across the state, ultimately creating a system whereby students in countless communities can help build their own virtual records of their local past.

The Georgia Virtual History Project will have not only a permanent website, but also a dedicated mobile app that will allow participants to access mini-documentaries, historical resources, and tourism-related information using image-recognition software at multiple locations across the state. As a prototype of this model, GVHP is currently building streaming content for another eHistory initiative, “From Civil War to Civil Rights in Georgia.”

GVHP Crowd Pic.jpg

This weekend’s opening reception was just one of over 60 events going on now in conjunction with the “Spotlight on the Arts Festival.” Luckily, if you missed this one, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the wealth of arts in the UGA and Athens community.

You can view the Spotlight on the Arts schedule of events here, find out more about Georgia Virtual History Project here and read more about the Wilson Center for Humanities and Arts here.

Images: Pictures on display of Georgia Illustrated at Saturday’s exhibit opening reception and a view of the crowd by Jessica Luton

UGA historian featured on The Learning Channel



By Jessica Luton

A University of Georgia historian was featured on the TLC show “Who do you think you are?” earlier this month.

A recent Ph.D. recipient, Joshua Haynes currently teaches four classes in American History and Native American history, but this summer he had a chance to help Trisha Yearwood sort out her family history and discover why her family ended up in Eatonton, Georgia.

Along the way, Haynes learned some new lingo and gained a tremendous amount of respect for Yearwood, he said.

“I totally respected her intellect. She was very sharp, very quick on the uptake,” said Haynes. “We had two days’ worth of conversations and by the end of it, I had tremendous respect for her.  I get the sense that with her intelligence and charisma, she probably would have been successful at whatever she wanted to do.”

Yearwood’s relatives came to the United States from England, and lived in an area that bordered Creek territory.  Haynes’ specialty, Creek border conflicts, helped Yearwood learn just what it must have been like for her relatives to live in an area of conflict.

If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, check out the full episode at:

For more information on the UGA history department, please visit

Faculty in the News, September '13


Schermafbeelding newspaper pageHere's a sampling of Franklin College faculty writing and quoted in the media this month:


“The secret bromance of Nixon and Brezhnev” – Posting by associate professor of history Stephen Mihm in Bloomberg News, picked up by the History News Network.