Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meteorite That Hit Cartersville House to be on Display at Tellus Science Museum

/PRNewswire/ -- A meteorite recently discovered in Georgia has a new home at Tellus Science Museum.

The meteorite arrived in loud fashion on March 8, 2009 with a sound a neighbor described as a sonic boom. It then tore a hole in the roof of a home in Cartersville, Georgia, before crashing through the ceiling and ending its cosmic journey on a bedroom floor. The house was unoccupied at the time.

The homeowner found the meteorite a few days later, but it wasn't until August of last year that it was brought meteorite to Tellus Science Museum for identification.

"People are constantly bringing things into the museum that they think are meteorites," said Tellus Curator Julian C. Gray. "Curators can go through their entire career and never see a real meteorite come through the door. It is a thrill to be part of the identification of the newest Georgia meteorite."

The homeowner, who asked to not be identified, decided to loan the 297 gram meteorite to Tellus where it will be on display along with part of the roof, an attic rafter, and part of the ceiling, all of which were struck by the meteorite.

"This is a significant addition to Tellus," said museum executive director Jose Santamaria. "Very few meteorites have been found in Georgia, and this is the first documented case of a meteorite hitting a house in our state. We are thrilled to have it on display at the museum where visitors can enjoy seeing this unique find."

The Cartersville Meteorite is only the 25th meteorite found in the state.

"Meteorite falls are equally likely to happen anywhere on the planet, but recovering them depends a lot on local conditions," said David Gheesling, a founding member of the Meteorite Association of Georgia, and a volunteer consultant to the museum. "The dense foliage of Georgia makes it hard to visibly locate meteorite specimens after they fall, and our humid environment is not friendly to meteorites."

Tellus Science Museum is located 40 minutes north of Atlanta in Cartersville. The world-class facility spans 120,000 square feet and features four galleries. For more information, visit or call 770-606-5700.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Screening a Lynching: Leo Frank Case Revisited

Editor's Note:  Was Leo Frank guilty?  Many believe he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.  Recently, one of our staff members was told that he was innocent.  The person who conveyed that message said her parents knew who had committed the crime, but she never had any knowledge of the guilty party's name. One has to wonder if those who knew, or thought they knew, who had actually murdered Phagan ever had nightmares for keeping silent on the issue.

Almost a century after Jewish factory owner Leo Frank was convicted of the murder of his worker Mary Phagan in Atlanta, the case continues to captivate audiences and filmmakers. Then and now, controversy about his guilt - and deep horror about his eventual lynching by a white mob in an Atlanta suburb - have made the case unforgettable.

In his new book, "Screening a Lynching: The Leo Frank Case on Film and Television" (The University of Georgia Press, 2009), Professor and Chair of Film Studies Matthew Bernstein dissects four screen treatments of the case. While they span more than half a century - and include one by a self-taught African American filmmaker - Bernstein explores what's behind the ongoing fascination.

Click to hear Bernstein talk about the case:

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Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Presents 19 Statewide Preservation Awards at Ceremony in Rome

/PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation presented 19 awards recognizing the best of preservation in Georgia during its 33rd annual Preservation Awards ceremony in Rome on April 9.

The Dunlevie House in Allenhurst, Ga. received the Marguerite Williams Award, presented annually to the project that has had the greatest impact on preservation in the state. The vernacular style house also received an award in the Excellence in Rehabilitation category.

Through a partnership between the D.C. Miller Trust and the Georgia Land Trust, the Dunlevie House was rehabilitated into the Jan and Dennis A. Waters, Jr. Family Education and Welcoming Center, where the house and surrounding 1,500 acres of protected wetlands and wildlife area, are used as an educational and nature center. The site hosts local church groups, garden clubs, environmental programs, and 4-H groups.

The Trust also presented five awards for Excellence in Restoration, ten awards for Excellence in Rehabilitation, and two for Preservation Service.

The Trust also presented the Camille W. Yow Volunteer of the Year Award to Susan Starr; and the Mary Gregory Jewett Award for Lifetime Preservation Service was given posthumously to architect Lane Greene.

The Excellence in Restoration winners were the Ossabaw Island Boarding House, DeSoto Theatre in Rome, Arnold Hall in Savannah, the Andrew Low House in Savannah, and Grady Hospital's Goddard Chapel in Atlanta.

Excellence in Rehabilitation winners were: Dunlevie House, Allenhurst; Plumfield, Columbus; Health Sciences Building and Parks Memorial Building at Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville; Madison Town Park Cottage, Madison; MLK, Jr. Federal Building, Atlanta; Bartow County Courthouse, Cartersville; Brawner Hall, Smyrna; Newnan Carnegie Library, Newnan; Oglethorpe School at Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta; and the Smith-Benning House, Atlanta.

Michael Purser of the Rosebud Company was recognized with a Preservation Service Award for his lifelong dedication to restoring historic wood floors in buildings and residences throughout Georgia.

A collaborative effort between New South Associates, the Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Transmission Corporation, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and several architectural consulting firms was recognized with a Preservation Service Award for the publication "The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation," a guide that recognizes the Ranch House in Georgia as a significant architectural style and provides guidelines for determining it's eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places.

"This year's winners represent a tremendous dedication to restoring and revitalizing Georgia's historic buildings and communities," said Mark C. McDonald, president of The Georgia Trust. "We are proud to honor such deserving projects and individuals."

For more than 30 years, the Trust has recognized preservation projects and individuals in the state who have made significant contributions to the field of historic preservation. Awards are presented on the basis of the contributions of the person or project to the community and/or state and on compliance to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

Founded in 1973, The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country's largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The Trust is committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia's communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all.

The Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund and raises awareness of other endangered historic resources through an annual listing of Georgia's "10 Places in Peril." The Trust helps revitalize downtowns by providing design and technical assistance in 102 Georgia Main Street cities; trains Georgia's teachers in 63 Georgia school systems to engage students in discovering state and national history through their local historic resources; and advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The FBI and UFOs

If you’ve ever watched The X-Files or other sci-fi shows like it, you may think that investigating unexplained phenomena is one of the FBI’s investigative responsibilities—right along with terrorism, espionage, white-collar crime, etc.

In fact, the FBI was only occasionally involved in investigating the possibility of UFOs and extraterrestrials over the years. The first Bureau investigations we are aware of began in the summer of 1947—the time of the now well-known incident in Roswell, New Mexico. A rash of reports of flying objects—some shaped like “flapjacks,” saucers, discs, and even a large circular saw blade that supposedly hit a lightning rod on top of a church—started to surface and make headlines across the nation.

Concerned citizens reported many of these strange sightings to the FBI. That wasn't surprising, given that the Bureau had investigated airline crashes such as the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 and aerial dangers like the balloon bombs launched by Japan toward the U.S. Pacific Northwest near the end of World War II. The FBI’s lead role in protecting the homeland during the war was also well known, and the Bureau remained front and center in ensuring national security as the Cold War began to unfold.

In late July 1947, a woman in Illinois reported to the FBI office in Springfield that she found the flying disc pictured above in her front yard. The Springfield special agent in charge informed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that "the alleged flying disc was obtained and it is apparently the concoction of some of the juveniles in the area. It is an old wooden platter, which has assembled on it a silver plate, a spark plug, a timer, and some old brass tubing. ... No doubt this was someone's idea of a prank."

Initially, it was not clear how UFO sightings should be handled. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover recognized that the Air Force—then part of the U.S. Army—clearly had the lead in such issues, but he did want his agents to investigate any “discs” recovered for their potential impact on FBI responsibilities.

The Army did want the FBI’s help—at least at first. On July 30, 1947, the Bureau issued this notice to all of its offices:

(B) Flying Discs – The Bureau, at the request of the Army Air Forces Intelligence, has agreed to cooperate in the investigation of flying discs….You should investigate each instance which is brought to your attention of a sighting of a flying disc in order to ascertain whether or not it is a bona fide sighting, an imaginary one or a prank.

Three years later, that policy changed. A July 1950 FBI statement said that “the jurisdiction and responsibility for investigating flying saucers have been assumed by the United States Air Force. Information received in this matter is immediately turned over to the Air Force, and the FBI does not attempt to investigate these reports or evaluate the information furnished.”

From this point, the FBI’s cases on UFOs dropped off dramatically. Neither the public nor the Air Force sought our expertise as they had during the first few years of the Cold War.

There were a few exceptions. In 1977, for example, the Air Force informed us of the end of their “Project Blue Book” investigation of UFO reports. And in 1988, we were asked to look into the release of what appeared to be a 1952 classified document concerning a UFO-related top secret government group called “Majestic 12”—we determined that the document was a fake.

To learn more, see the investigations of “Unusual Phenomena” in our Freedom of Information Act Reading Room.

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