Flagpole Magazine, Athens’ popular alternative newsweekly is the latest addition to the Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive (GHN), at https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn94029049/, part of the Digital Library of Georgia, based at the University of Georgia Libraries. The release of this new collection coincides with the 30th anniversary of Flagpole.
Athens is unique as a small college town that became nationally prominent in the 1980s thanks to the emergence of breakthrough local music acts that were initially popularized during college radio’s heyday, and later gained traction on mainstream pop radio and MTV.
Since the late 1970s, dozens of clubs including the 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theater have hosted music played by local bands such as Pylon, Limbo District, Love Tractor, the B-52s, and R.E.M. Jared Bailey and Dennis Greenia founded Flagpole Magazine in 1987 to cover news related to the city’s independent music scene; the publication has reported and recorded the history of the Athens music community through interviews, record reviews, concert listings, and advertisements.
Flagpole quickly expanded its content to include politics, art, theater, movies, books, food, local comics, and advice columns. Music coverage continued in the 1990s with Widespread Panic, Vic Chesnutt, Jack Logan, Jack O’ Nuts, Five-Eight, Hayride, and the Elephant 6 collective bands such as the Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power, Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Circulatory System; bands on the Kindercore Records label such as Japancakes, Masters of the Hemisphere and the Sunshine Fix were also making their names. Throughout the 2000s, bands such as Dead Confederate, the Whigs, and alt-country bands such as the Drive-By Truckers have continued to thrive, as have annual music festivals such as AthFest and Popfest, which provide Athens venues for local, national, and international independent music acts.
For three decades, Flagpole has been a mirror on the local culture of Athens and its thriving arts scene. The publication remains independent and locally-owned, and is now edited and published by Pete McCommons, who joined the paper in 1993. Under the banner “Colorbearer of Athens, Georgia,” the Flagpole is distributed weekly and free of charge and has become a local institution and an irreplaceable source of news for local Athenians and music lovers alike.
The Flagpole online collection project, which began in 2014, is a collaborative venture between Flagpole, the Athens-Clarke County Library and the DLG.
Pete McCommons, co-publisher and editor of Flagpole notes: “Flagpole’s digital archives have been spotty in recent years. To have our complete archive available online again, thanks to the expertise of the Digital Library of Georgia and the hard work of the Athens Regional Library, is of great benefit to Flagpole—our staff as well as our readers and anybody researching Athens-oriented stories.”
Rikki Chesley, head of Archives and Special Collections for the Athens Regional Library System states: “Flagpole Magazine has been such an important part of Athens’ arts and music community for decades. Our staff went through years of microfilm to digitize every issue from the beginning to 2012. We are proud to partner with Flagpole and the Digital Library of Georgia to help make sure that this publication’s rich history is easily accessible to everyone.”
Athens music fans will be pleased to have full-text searching available for historic articles about music, politics, news, and feature stories that cover the city of Athens from 1987 to 2012. Flagpole issues from 2013 to the present are currently available at http://flagpole.com/
About the Athens-Clarke County Library
The Athens-Clarke County Library is located at 2025 Baxter Street, Athens. It is the headquarters of the Athens Regional Library System, which serves Athens-Clarke, Franklin, Madison, Oconee and Oglethorpe counties with 11 library branches. The mission of the Athens-Clarke County Libraries is to provide information and resources which address the needs of the community, foster enjoyment and a love of reading, and provide a repository of the history and culture of Athens-Clarke County. The Athens Regional Library System vision statement is, “Engaging Communities … Exceeding Expectations.” To learn more about the library system, its services and programs, visit http://www.athenslibrary.org.
About the Digital Library of Georgia
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.