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Extend Your Research with the Georgia Archives

August 2, 2016
Volumes of Georgia Reports books on a bookshelf at the Georgia Archives.

Is it time you buckle down into some research? Maybe you need to uncover your genealogical roots, or find out about Georgia’s involvement in the Civil War, or check a law in the Official Code of Georgia. State agencies and counties, legislators and Georgia residents can all benefit from the collections.

Whether you need to study old maps, photographs, historic manuscripts or government records, the Archives, a service of the University System of Georgia, is the place to be.

The Georgia Archives makes historic records of great value available to the public. Reference staff are available to help you try and find what you need. Once you’ve found the correct books and documents, you can take notes and even make copies for personal use on the state-of-the-art scanners (for a fee).

Lunch & Learn

Every second Friday of the month, the Archives hosts a Lunch & Learn lecture from noon to 1 p.m. Topics vary from Georgia’s history to learning about archiving processes. Lectures are free and no registration is required. Check out these upcoming events and mark your calendar!

  • Aug. 12 — Fort Morris, Sunbury, and the American Revolution in Southern Georgia
  • Sept. 2 — The Three Governors Controversy (note this is the first, not second, Friday of September)
  • Oct. 14 — Learn About Papermaking

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes

In July’s Lunch & Learn lecture, archivists at the Georgia Archives gave a behind-the-scenes look at some ongoing projects. Jill Sweetapple described how to process old records received from counties. The documents are often fragile and need to be put in a humidifying chamber for about a half hour before they can even be unfolded. They are then flattened and stored properly in the Archives collections. Depending on how the documents were previously stored, whether or not they were held together with rubber bands or paper clips and if they have started to grow mold, the process can be even more involved.

Every 3 months or so, staff pick a topic to highlight and select certain related pieces to show in an exhibit. Recently, they have exhibited Georgia’s history of transportation, and the current exhibit highlights early education in Georgia. Allison Hudgins informed us that pieces chosen for exhibition are sent first to the Archives’ conservation lab to be physically evaluated. When a piece is deemed ready for display, they are put in exhibition cases along with an appropriate caption. These cases are lit with LED bulbs and kept at the same temperature and humidity as the vaults. Hudgins explained that exhibits only last about 3 months to keep the original documents in the best shape possible.

Education and Outreach

A legislative mandate requires the Archives to use its resources to educate the public. This year, staff held a live video classroom session with the Dean Rusk Middle School in Canton. The students were able to view the Royal Charter and the Declaration of Independence while learning about the history, care and handling of the documents. The live interaction also gave students an opportunity to ask questions while examining the digitized volumes in the Virtual Vault.

On July 22, the Archives co-hosted a workshop for middle and high school teachers on using primary sources in the classroom. The teachers visited the Georgia Archives, the National Archives at Atlanta and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. They also attended a presentation by the Auburn Avenue Research Library.

On Saturday July 23, the Archives held a children’s program. Pamela Baughman, an archaeologist who works for the Georgia Department of Transportation, gave a presentation on archaeology in Georgia and how she does her job at GDOT. Author Susan Rosson Spain talked about her book Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia, where Jacob and Ava learn about the Georgia gold rush in Dahlonega, the Trail of Tears and Georgia’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

After lunch, visitors learned more about the Dahlonega gold rush with Lori Hamby. To end the day, the Morrow Fire Department brought a fire engine and an ambulance. Firefighters talked about fire safety and the equipment they use. The Archives has a close working relationship with the local fire department. They visit annually to review the Archives’ fire safety procedures and update their access to the Archives building.

Get Involved

The Archives is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Visit the Archives at 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA. Before you visit, make sure to take a look at their rules, and print and fill out a research registration form. You will need to bring a photo ID card with you. You must be 16 or older for individual access to the reference room, but students ages 13-16 can also attend when accompanied by a registered adult researcher.

If you can’t make the trip to Morrow, check out the online portal to some of Georgia’s most important historical documents, the Virtual Vault. The Vanishing Georgia Photographic Collection, also available online, consists of nearly 18,000 historically significant photographs coming from individuals throughout Georgia.

Do you want to help out? You can become a member or make donations to support the Archives through Friends of Georgia Archives and History.

Keep in touch by following Georgia Archives on Facebook and subscribing to their quarterly newsletter. If you would like to receive the newsletter, email Jill.Sweetapple@usg.edu.

About the Authors

Rachel Hart is the User Interface designer for GeorgiaGov. She visually organizes information and writes blogs on a variety of government-related topics.

 

Jill Sweetapple has been a reference archivist at the Georgia Archives since 2013. Sher received her Library and Information Science degree from Florida State University.