Digital Library of Georgia Hits 1 Million Newspaper Pages

October 23, 2017

WRITER: Jean Cleveland, jclevela@uga.edu, 706-542-8079

CONTACT: Sheila McAlister, mcalists@uga.edu, 706-542-5418

Digital Library Hits 1 Million Newspaper Pages

ATHENS, Ga — The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) is celebrating its 1 millionth digitized historic newspaper page. The premier issue of the Georgia Gazette, Georgia’s first newspaper, published from 1763-1776 in Savannah, will become the 1 millionth page of historic newspapers to be made freely available online through the Georgia Historic Newspapers (GHN): https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn83016182/1763-04-07/ed-1/seq-1/. James Johnston, the first printer in Georgia, published the state’s first newspaper issue on April 7, 1763.

Public libraries around the state are being provided with printed materials, including  bookmarks, rack cards, and temporary tattoos, as well as a freely downloadable digital press kit to encourage local celebrations of the milestone.

The online press kit, available at https://sites.google.com/view/ghn-presskits,  will include:

  • A curriculum guide for educational/ library programming with GHN;
  • A PowerPoint slide deck template for creating presentations on how to use the GHN web site;
  • A DLG “Quick Facts” document with information about the DLG, its public library partners, communication channels, and our historic newspaper milestones;
  • A selection of prepared GHN-related posts that can be shared on social media; and
  • A Millionth Page badge graphic to share within posts on social media

The DLG will promote its millionth page with weekly social media posts that feature items from our digitized newspapers, and will conduct a contest with Facebook users who share our millionth page social media posts and tag us. Two winners will be drawn at random, and awarded a copy of UGA Press’ book For Free Press and Equal Rights by Richard H. Abbott.

Sheila McAlister, director of the DLG, remarks: “Making Georgia’s first newspaper freely available online is the perfect way for us to celebrate this important milestone. Historic newspapers reflect the social and cultural values of the time that they were created and are invaluable to scholars and the general public. With the help of our partners, we will continue add more of this sought-after content.”

Since 2007, the DLG has been providing access to the state’s historic newspapers through multiple online city and regional newspaper archives. With the launch of the GHN in July 2017, the DLG continues that tradition by bringing together new and existing resources into a single, consolidated website.

The GHN includes some of the state’s earliest newspapers; important African-American, Roman Catholic, and Cherokee newspapers; and issues from Atlanta, Augusta, Butler, Columbus, Dublin, Fayetteville, Houston county, Louisville, Sandersville, Thomson, Walker county, Waycross, and Waynesboro. All previously digitized newspapers are scheduled to be incorporated into the new GHN platform. Until that time, users may continue to access the existing regional and city sites (North, South, West Georgia, Athens, Macon, and Savannah). Historic newspaper pages are consistently the most visited of any DLG sites, and the GHN provides newspaper issues that are full-text searchable and able to be browsed by date and title.

Most recently, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Digital Library of Georgia a National Digital Newspaper Program grant to digitize 100,000 additional pages of Georgia historic newspapers over the next two years. Annually, DLG digitizes over 100,000 historic newspaper pages with funding from GALILEO, Georgia Public Library Service, and its partners and microfilms more than 200 current newspapers.

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/ is a GALILEO initiative that collaborates with Georgia’s libraries, archives, museums, and other institutions of education and culture to provide access to key information resources on Georgia history, culture, and life. This primary mission is accomplished through the ongoing development, maintenance, and preservation of digital collections and online digital library resources.  DLG also serves as Georgia’s service hub for the Digital Public Library of America and as the home of the Georgia Newspaper Project, the state’s historic newspaper microfilming project.

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Soil Conservation and the Vine that Ate the South

Photograph of a farmer kneeling in a field of Sericea Lespedeza for hay and pasture, Columbia County, Georgia

This is the first in a series of guest posts contributed by our partners at HomePLACE, a project of the Georgia Public Library Service. HomePLACE works with Georgia’s public libraries and related institutions to digitize historical content for inclusion in the Digital Library of Georgia.

If you’ve spent any time in the Southern United States, you know kudzu by its moniker, “the vine that ate the South.”  Indeed, a recently-published Southern Gothic story by J.D. Wilkes bears the same title. And yet the rise of the vine’s mythic powers in popular culture was foreshadowed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s concerted efforts to promote the plant as an antidote to soil erosion in the wake of Depression-Era dust storms.

Photograph of Horace Fitzgerald, Larry Edmond, John Devette, Clever Youngblood with a Future Farmers of America truck, Columbia County, Georgia, 1957 May
Photograph of Horace Fitzgerald, Larry Edmond, John Devette, Clever Youngblood with a Future Farmers of America truck, Columbia County, Georgia, 1957 May

Encouraged for use as a roadside planting by the Soil Conservation Service, the predecessor to today’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, kudzu thrived in the full Southern sun, undeterred by automobile emissions and undisturbed by grazing wildlife. (Though, as the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center will remind you, the leaves are actually edible–like spinach!)  It is in this context that the photos in the recently-released USDA Photo Collection, Columbia County, Georgia really come to life. Added to the Digital Library of Georgia in October 2017, the 70 Soil Conservation Service photographs document a variety of methods used by farmers, scientists and engineers to prevent soil erosion–including, of course, the planting of kudzu.

The collection, which was made possible through a partnership between the Digital Library of Georgia, HomePLACE and the Columbia County Library in Evans, Georgia, shows conservation practices in use during the 1950s-1970s.  Mary Lin Maner, Director at Columbia County Library, notes that “Researchers who are interested in genealogy, agriculture, or the history of the region will be thrilled with the quality and scope of these resources.” The photos detail such practices as the creation of irrigation and drainage systems, windbreaks, rangeland reseeding, woodland harvesting, brush clearing, contour farming, and terrace construction. A few photos record Soil Conservation Service scientists surveying, sampling, and measuring soil conditions. There are also historic photos documenting conservation educational programs.

Photograph of J.C. Butler kneeling in J.H. Marshall's farm field, Evans, Georgia, 1952 April
Photograph of J.C. Butler kneeling in J.H. Marshall’s farm field, Evans, Georgia, 1952 April

And of course, kudzu.

“Much of Georgia’s history is deeply rooted in the environmental and economic impacts of agriculture and farming,” says HomePLACE Director Angela Stanley. “While these photographs resonate locally for Burke, Columbia, and McDuffie counties, they also tell a larger story about the country’s changing relationship to sustainable farming practices, land conservation, and environmental protection.”

Of course, by the mid-1950s the USDA no longer publicly recommended the planting of kudzu as a method for curbing soil erosion or feeding cattle, and by 1970 the plant was listed as a weed. In 1997 kudzu was listed on the Federal Noxious Weed List. And the rest, as they say, was history: left unattended, kudzu spread rapidly–though not as rapidly as some might believe.

“In news media and scientific accounts and on some government websites,” writes Bill Smith for Smithsonian Magazine, “kudzu is typically said to cover seven million to nine million acres across the United States. But scientists reassessing kudzu’s spread have found that it’s nothing like that. In the latest careful sampling, the U.S. Forest Service reports that kudzu occupies, to some degree, about 227,000 acres of forestland, an area about the size of a small county and about one-sixth the size of Atlanta. That’s about one-tenth of 1 percent of the South’s 200 million acres of forest. By way of comparison, the same report estimates that Asian privet had invaded some 3.2 million acres—14 times kudzu’s territory. Invasive roses had covered more than three times as much forestland as kudzu.”

Despite these much more conservative estimates, kudzu still figures prominently in the Southern imagination. As the photographs in this collection show, however, the Southern agricultural landscape features more than simply carpets of vine.  Plantings of nutrient-dense crimson clover, as well as rescuegrass, alfalfa, tree farms, and educational partnerships all played a part in the USDA’s efforts to stabilize and enrich the soil.  

Photograph of a farmer kneeling in a field of Sericea Lespedeza for hay and pasture, Columbia County, Georgia
Photograph of a farmer kneeling in a field of Sericea Lespedeza for hay and pasture, Columbia County, Georgia, 1950s

The images pertaining to Columbia County, Burke County, and McDuffie County, Georgia are part of a larger series of items that were taken throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico and are housed at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Records of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1875-2002, and series title, Photographs of Water and Soil Conservation Practices, 1932 – 1977. The digital collection provides data transcribed from captions for the original photographs that includes information about the subject pictured, the location and the date the photograph was taken.

The South can tell as many stories as it can keep secrets. But the hope is that, with a little sunlight, this new collection will inform our understanding of the agriculture, landscape, and mythology the South has grown up around.

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