Historical Perry, Georgia, City Council minutes now available online

CONTACT: Deborah Hakes, dhakes@georgialibraries.org, (404) 852-5547; Mandy Mastrovita, mastrovi@uga.edu, 706-583-0209

ATHENS, GA…Georgia HomePLACE and the Digital Library of Georgia are pleased to announce the online availability of the 19th and 20th century Perry, Georgia, City Council Minute Books collection at https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/hlp_hcmb. The project was made possible through a partnership between the Digital Library of Georgia, Georgia HomePLACE, and the Houston County Public Library System.

This collection of Perry’s municipal documents includes the charter, ordinances, minutes, and rules of council from 1859-1943. The minutes include details of city council meetings, the names of council committee members, and city business transactions, including some financial records. The city charter, ordinances, and rules of council include information about the town’s incorporation, statutes, and regulations.

These materials document the growth and modernization of Perry, Houston County’s county seat. “Unlike much of the country during the Great Depression, Perry experienced a period of industrial growth and population increase, with electricity to homes instead of gas, as well the first Blue Bird bus being built in Perry in 1927,” notes J. Sara Paulk, Director of the Houston County Public Library System. “Tourism was supported and encouraged with the second in the state tourist court, gas stations, and modern streets. The historic Dixie highway came through Perry and was paved during the 1920s.” The digitized collection gives researchers access to the original records which reflect these changes over time.

About Houston County Public Library System

Houston County Public Library System offers a full program of library services of all citizens of Houston County and the surrounding communities to meet their informational, educational and recreational needs. Learn more at http://houpl.org/.

About Georgia HomePLACE

Georgia HomePLACE encourages public libraries and related institutions across the state to participate in the Digital Library of Georgia. HomePLACE offers a highly collaborative model for digitizing primary source collections related to local history and genealogy. HomePLACE is supported with Federal LSTA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Learn more about Georgia HomePLACE at http://www.georgialibraries.org/homeplace/abouthomeplace.php.

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.

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Tombstone Mystery Solved and Family Keepsake Revived

Why digitize newspapers? I work at the Houston County Public Library and recall two instances specifically that impressed upon me the importance and usefulness of digitization.

Through grants and donations from Flint Energies and the estate of Alice L. Gilbert, the Houston County Public Library System partnered with the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) to digitize our local newspaper, the Houston Home Journal.

Not long ago, we had received notice from the DLG that they had successfully completed the project and that it was accessible through the Georgia Historic Newspapers site located in GALILEO. The information was no sooner relayed to me than I got to take my first spin on the newly digitized information. A gentleman walked in and wanted the newspaper information on “the unknown man who was buried in Perry in his underwear.” Yes, that’s correct. A man was buried in his underwear in Perry, Georgia; an article was written about it, and this patron expected me to find it.

Man buried in his underwear: Tombstone mystery solved, Houston Home Journal. (Perry, Houston County, Ga.) 1924-1994, April 20, 1972, page 1-B.
Houston Home Journal. (Perry, Houston County, Ga.) 1924-1994, April 20, 1972, page 1-B.

I was stymied. Then I remembered that our newly digitized newspaper was word indexed. I logged in, typed in the common, everyday keywords of “man”, “buried”, and “underwear”…and magic happened! It pulled right up. Hallelujah, I was saved! I printed the article, handed it to the gentleman, and looked smug. The patron went home impressed with how easy the digitized newspaper was to search and navigate–and also knowing that it was just a keystroke away. I was able with little time and effort to be an awesome librarian.

The second occurrence did not even take place in the library. I was at a local function wearing my “library hat” and was engaged in the usual “What do you do?” conversation at my table. A lady said she was thankful we had made the old newspaper articles available online. She told me she had had a very athletic and talented brother that had been making a name for himself in school sports. Over the years, their mother had made a scrapbook of all the newspaper clippings with his name mentioned or interviews given. Unfortunately, his was an untimely death. In the chaos that followed, the scrapbook was lost.

When our local newspaper was digitized and made available, this lady searched her brother’s name, and printed out and put together a new scrapbook containing all the news clippings about her brother. She then gave it to her mother. Because we had digitized our newspapers, she was able to replace what was lost.

These are just two instances, both very different in their use, that the digitization of the Houston Home Journal by the Digital Library of Georgia, was indispensable. Though there are more, these examples are the most memorable. I would encourage other libraries, if they are considering digitizing, to go ahead. It is financially daunting for sure, but when looking at serving the community or long-term benefits, it makes so much sense. Good luck!

Judith Malone, Perry Branch Manager of the Houston County Public Library.

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