Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Remembering the Past with American Veterans

Our nation's World War II veterans are leaving us at a rapid rate.  Thanks to the wonderful volunteers around the nation, some of their stories have been saved.  These wonderful men and women who we refer to as the Greatest Generation firmly believed in patriotism and their duty to their country.  Here is a recent release as the Library of Congress celebrates 10 years of documenting the stories of horror, valor, and love of country.

Veterans History Project Commemorates First Decade with New Web Feature

They served. Regardless of their opinions on war, the horrors they witnessed on the front lines, the conditions under which they lived on the home front, their rank, race, religion or gender – they answered the call to duty and they served.

The latest installment of the Veterans History Project’s (VHP) Experiencing War website feature, titled "VHP: The First Ten Years," has launched in time for nationwide Veterans Day observances. The website feature, one of 32 created thus far, highlights the wartime stories of 20 veterans who represent a cross-section of the more than 70,000 collections donated to the project during its first decade of existence. VHP staff members selected these collections from among their favorites and as representative of the diversity and depth of the project. Some of the veterans have been featured in previous installments of Experiencing War, while others will be new to users of the site, www.loc.gov/vets/.

"Our theme for this commemorative season has been ‘Illuminating the Future by Sharing the Past,’" said VHP Director Robert Patrick. "This latest web feature does just that. It shows the realities of war from 20 diverse and captivating perspectives so that people, generations from now, will be able to hear, see, and learn from these firsthand accounts."

Each veteran in "VHP: The First Ten Years" describes the wartime veteran experience in ways that are thoughtful, touching, and often riveting. Spotlighted in the feature is Vietnam Army nurse Elizabeth Allen, an African-American woman who discusses her experiences, unique due to both race and gender. Frank Buckles, the last surviving World War I veteran, shares his experiences in the feature as an Army ambulance driver. Marine Corps veteran Paul Steppe served during the Korean War and conveys his tale of survival after being wounded and then having his medical transport plane lose its landing gear upon takeoff. Herman Rosen was a Merchant Marine during World War II who spent 23 days in a lifeboat at sea after his ship was hit by a torpedo. Persian Gulf War Medical Officer Rhonda Cornum, on a mission to rescue a downed pilot, was captured by the Iraqis and held for seven harrowing days.

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

Congress created The Veterans History Project in 2000 as a national documentation program of the American Folklife Center (www.loc.gov/folklife/) to record, preserve and make accessible the first-hand remembrances of American wartime veterans from World War I through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. The project relies on volunteers to record veterans’ remembrances using guidelines accessible at www.loc.gov/vets/. Volunteer interviewers may pledge to record a veteran’s story at the site, or they may request more information at vohp@loc.gov or the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Civil Rights Digital Library honored with national award

The Civil Rights Digital Library, hosted by the University of Georgia Libraries and GALILEO, was recently awarded the 2010 Schwartz Prize for excellence in the public humanities by the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

The CRDL was recognized as an innovative program to deliver educational content on the civil rights movement via the web. This online library contains 30 hours (about 450 clips) of historical news footage, a civil rights portal that allows users to access material on the movements from 100 libraries and other organizations nationwide, and supplemental instructional materials. It has been incorporated into public programs ranging from teacher training to television documentary.

The CRDL has received approximately a million page views since its 2008 launch. Using historical news film footage from WSB in Atlanta and WALB in Albany and held in the UGA Walter J. Brown Media Archives, it evolved from a partnership with the Digital Library of Georgia (the digitization initiative of GALILEO, the state’s virtual library), the library services office at the state Board of Regents and the Georgia Humanities Council, including its New Georgia Encyclopedia.

“Winning the Schwartz Prize is a wonderful accomplishment for the CRDL partners,” said P. Toby Graham, deputy university librarian and DLG director. “The 15 nominations for this year’s prize showcase some of the most imaginative and important work humanities councils are currently undertaking or supporting.”

Graham noted that earlier this year, CRDL was credited with a Southeastern Emmy award for a documentary produced by civil rights veteran and former U.S. ambassador Andrew Young and in 2008 was chosen as an outstanding program by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board.

“The Georgia Humanities Council is proud to be a partner in the Civil Rights Digital Library. Nowhere on the Web is there a more comprehensive collection on the American civil rights movement,” said Jamil Zainaldin, Georgia Humanities Council president. “The Schwartz Prize recognizes the high quality nature of the content of this site. It also recognizes the strong and creative partnerships that brought the CRDL to fruition.”

Dozens participated in building the Civil Rights Digital Library, including undergraduate and graduate students at UGA working under the direction of English professor Barbara McCaskill. Her students conducted research and authored instructional materials to accompany the digitized film footage.

One judge wrote, “In many ways, Georgia was an essentially important battleground and harbor for the modern Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s. The state nurtured the movement’s most iconic figure, Martin Luther King Jr. It also was the site for the most memorable turning point in the early years of the struggle for the soul of the South—the long struggle against racial segregation and white racial tyranny in Albany. Perhaps the need for southerners—whites and blacks—to become more conversant with the Civil Rights Movement is second only in importance to a region-wide remembrance and interrogation of slavery and its affect on southern history and identity. What [Georgia] is doing with the Civil Rights Digital Library is an important step in that direction.”

The awards ceremony was held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M., as part of the 2010 National Humanities Conference. The Connecticut and New Hampshire councils also were awarded the prizes, named for Helen and Martin Schwartz and given annually to up to three programs for outstanding work in the public humanities.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Love a Little Mystery with History?

Museums are fascinating places to explore.  In every nook and cranny, there are wonderful finds which can fuel the imagination.  Who were the owners?  How did the artifacts explain life in olden times? What tales could these objects tell us?

During my first visit to the Smithsonian some 30 years ago, I found time stood still.  More, I just had to have more;  more information on the artifacts and more time.  Needless to say, the guards were kind enough to escort me away from the Hope Diamond after I had stood for several hours mesmerized by its beauty and its dark secrets.

There are some wonderful museums around the world that I will never have the opportunity to visit.  That is, until now....

The Travel Channel has unveiled an awesome series entitled Mysteries at the Museum.  Take a trip to several museums and see some wonderful pieces of history that also spark a great deal of mystery.  What do you know about Harry Houdini and his death?  The first flight over the North Pole?  Lizzie Borden?

Join in on Tuesday, November 23 at 9 ET/P to learn more about these mysteries of history and more.  You'll find yourself thinking about the past and what mysteries you could find at your local museum.

By the way, have you been to the Holliday Dorsey Fife House Museum in Fayetteville?  There's quite a bit there about Doc Holliday and Scarlett's world. Maybe there's room for some unanswered mysteries to surface............


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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fox Theatre Institute Offers Funds, Expertise to Restore Brunswick's Beloved Ritz Theatre

/PRNewswire/ -- Throughout the nation, once-cherished community treasures are feeling the effects of neglect and bleak economic conditions. However, as purse strings tighten, communities are coming together to reach into their own pockets and salvage grand historical theatres. In Georgia, one organization (http://bit.ly/FTI_kit) is making a difference and jumpstarting revitalization. The Fox Theatre Institute partners with historic theatres to restore, educate and strengthen community ties.

Recently, the Fox Theatre Institute completed its latest project: a partnership with the Ritz Theatre in Brunswick, Georgia. Built in 1899, the Ritz Theatre has a rich history. Once an Opera House and Art Deco movie palace, the theatre fell into decline through the 1970s but has since returned to a live community performance space.

On its way to reclaiming its vibrancy, the theatre set sights on restoring its 58 original windows and painting its exterior. Because of natural deterioration and proximity to the Inter-coastal Water Way, the historic elements began to fail. In April 2009, the Fox Theatre Institute assisted the Ritz Theatre in streamlining the restoration process, securing funds and providing theatre-to-theatre mentoring.

To stimulate economic development, skilled local craftsmen conducted the repair work. Through extensive ratings systems and detailed analysis, experts selected the appropriate processes and local materials to source the project, completed in August 2010.

"Brunswick has demonstrated a significant commitment to its community," said Fox Theatre Institute Director of Restoration, Molly Fortune. "The Fox Theatre Institute is thrilled to match the city's investment and play a role in restoring such a historical landmark."

The Ritz Theatre continues to play a vital role in the economic stability of downtown Brunswick's Old Towne Historic District, and the Fox Theatre Institute supports the local theatre as an epicenter of development. The Ritz Theatre has a story to tell, and with the expert hands of the Fox Theatre Institute, the community pillar will live to tell even more stories over the next 100 years.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

National Museum of American History Showcases the William Steinway Diary in Special Display and Online Edition

/PRNewswire/ -- The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will launch its online edition of "The William Steinway Diary" in December to coincide with a special display of the diary that will provide a glimpse into the famous piano manufacturer's life and one of the most dynamic periods in American history. "A Gateway to the 19th Century: The William Steinway Diary, 1861–1896" will be on view in the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery from Dec. 17 through April 8, 2011.

Steinway (1835-1896), a prominent German American and astute entrepreneur, documented more than 36 years of his life through near-daily notes in nine volumes and some 2,500 pages, beginning eight days after the first shots of the Civil War were fired and three days before his wedding. The display follows Steinway's growth from witness to participant in history through select diary passages, Steinway family photographs, maps and advertisements that bring alive the fear and chaos of the 1863 Civil War Draft Riots and his hands-on role in the creation of the New York City subway and the company town of Steinway in Queens, N.Y.

"The breadth and depth of material covered in one man's personal diary is truly astounding," said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. "The passion and diligence of the more than 100 volunteers researching the diary have produced a wealth of knowledge about the dramatic events of the second half of the 19th century."

Steinway was one of the piano world's great promotional innovators and a key figure in the cultural, economic, political and physical development of New York City. At age 15 he immigrated to the United States and became a partner in his family's newly formed piano-making firm at age 21.

Under his direction, Steinway & Sons thrived as it survived the fierce piano manufacturing wars of the time and fed the period's ravenous musical appetite. When Steinway & Sons incorporated in 1876, he became its first president, a position he held until his death. A proud member of New York's German American community, Steinway was a classic immigrant success story. His close circle of powerful friends and allies included President Grover Cleveland.

The debut of "The William Steinway Diary" website, will, for the first time, allow scholars and the public to read and search a complete transcription of the diary alongside high-resolution scans of each handwritten page. The site will provide a detailed look at Steinway's firsthand account of the period's financial panics, labor unrest and rise of the German immigrant class. Primary source material will be contextualized with more than 100 images from Steinway family archives and related essays. The museum hopes to publish later installments to include more than 30,000 interlinked annotations -- one for every three words in the diary -- to provide context for sometimes obscure entries.

The online edition of the diary and the companion display are the result of the combined efforts of the museum's curators and editors along with more than 100 volunteers. Taking more than two decades, "The William Steinway Diary" project is one of the longest-running and most extensive volunteer projects at the Smithsonian.

Recognizing the diary's historical significance, the late Henry Ziegler Steinway, Steinway's grandson and former president of Steinway & Sons, donated the diary to the museum in 1996. He became a central part of the Diary Project and a volunteer researcher until his death in 2008.

"The William Steinway Diary" project has been made possible with lead funding from Target Corporation and additional support from Henry Ziegler Steinway, the William and Mary McCormick Foundation and other friends of the Diary project.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. To learn more about the museum, check http://americanhistory.si.edu. "The William Steinway Diary" website will be available by Dec. 17 at http://americanhistory.si.edu/steinwaydiary. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).

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Monday, November 15, 2010

How Much Do You Know About Thanksgiving?

Editor's Note: George Washington was the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving Day in 1789. It wasn't until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of the month as a national holiday.  

There is no doubt the Union soldiers heartily enjoyed the extra rations received on that day, while the Confederate troops were quite hungry.  It is interesting to note the Confederate troops halted their fire on that one day so the Union troops could enjoy their national day of Thanksgiving.  



(SPM Wire) In addition to stuffing your guests' stomachs this Thanksgiving, here are some fun Turkey Day facts to fill their minds:

* Thanksgiving wasn't a national holiday until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last day in November a national day of thanksgiving. 

* President Franklin Roosevelt amended the holiday to fall on the fourth Thursday of November (avoiding the occasional fifth Thursday), in order to allocate more weeks to holiday shopping.

* More than 232 million turkeys were raised in the United States this year alone, with the majority in Minnesota.

* There are five places and townships in the country named Cranberry or some variation thereof.

* An estimated 117 million households will celebrate Thanksgiving this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


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The Dr. Edward J. Cashin Memorial Woodrow Wilson Lecture: “Ellen and Edith, Woodrow Wilson’s First Ladies: The Intersection of Public and Private Lives” November 18, 7pm

Historic Augusta and the Center for the Study of Georgia History at Augusta State University invite the public to attend the Dr. Edward J. Cashin Memorial Woodrow Wilson Lecture on Thursday, November 18 at 7 pm.

Each year, the lecture explores different aspects of the life of Wilson in order to foster interest in the 28th President and in his boyhood home in Augusta.

The title of this year’s event is “Ellen and Edith, Woodrow Wilson’s First Ladies: The Intersection of Public and Private Lives.”

The wives of Woodrow Wilson were strikingly different from one another. Ellen Axson Wilson, quiet and intellectual, died after just a year and a half in the White House and is thought to have had little impact on history. Edith Bolling Wilson was flamboyant and confident but left a legacy of controversy.

Yet each played a significant role in the White House. Join Historic Augusta for an exploration of a compelling new book Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson’s First Ladies by journalist and biographer Kristie Miller.

The annual lecture is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Edward J. Cashin, founder of the Woodrow Wilson Symposium in 1992, former chairman of the Department of History at Augusta State University, founding director of the Center for the Study of Georgia History, and former president of Historic Augusta, Inc.

Refreshments will be served. Admission is free. The lecture will be held at the Joseph R. Lamar Boyhood Home located at 415 Seventh Street in Augusta. For more information, contact Historic Augusta at (706) 724-0436 or visit www.wilsonboyhoodhome.org.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dot Moore to Speak at Margaret Mitchell Research Center Nov 21

The Fayette County Historical Society is pleased to announce that regional, award-winning author, Dot Moore, will be the speaker at the Sunday, November 21st meeting at the Margaret Mitchell Research Center, 195 Lee Street in Fayetteville from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“Never was there a more famous seer than Mayhayley Lancaster of Heard County, whose role in the 1948 John Wallace murder trial secured her local reputation and launched a national one.” — Rheta Grimsley Johnson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This award-winning biography, and creative work of non-fiction, deals with the unusual and eccentric life of Mayhayley Lancaster. Moore’s childhood memories and encounters with Lancaster spurred her to write Oracle of the Ages: Reflections on the Curious Life of Fortune Teller Mayhayley Lancaster.

She is following Oracle of the Ages with a modern Jekyll and Hyde tale: No Remorse: The Rise and Fall of John Wallace. Her newest book is set for release in December.

Should a man be defined by his worst deed? This is the question explored by Dot Moore in No Remorse: The Rise and Fall of John Wallace, an examination of the notorious trial, conviction and execution of Wallace for the 1948 murder of William Turner in a small Georgia town. In this compelling work Moore paints the portrait of a complex man, capable of great compassion yet haunted by a demonic temper. Painstakingly researched, the book presents new information about the life of John Wallace and the trial that convicted him of murder.

The story of John Wallace was pieced together from records discovered in courthouses, at the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles in Atlanta; from Confession of a Criminal Lawyer by Wallace’s chief attorney A. L. Henson, and stories told by popular news writer Celestine Sibley. In the course of her investigation, Moore also discovered accounts of the trial in three major crime magazines and in accounts from the newspapers of LaGrange, Newnan, Columbus and Atlanta, Georgia. The book, Murder In Coweta County by Margaret Anne Barnes, provided additional information. But the most important new source discovered by Moore was a cache of letters written by Wallace and kept by a neighbor for more than fifty years. Through his correspondence with friends and family, the story of this emotionally conflicted man emerges.

Dot Moore grew up in Heard County, Georgia. She is a retired educator and political activist, and lives in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Fayette County Historical Society monthly meetings feature a speaker of local interest and the community is welcome. The Margaret Mitchell Research Center at 195 Lee Street in Fayetteville is open to the public weekly: Tuesday 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Thursday, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.