Architectural records documenting segregated health care facilities in Baldwin, Richmond, Treutlen, Ware, and Wayne counties in Georgia now available online

In partnership with Kennesaw State University’s Department of Museums, Archives & Rare Books, the Digital Library of Georgia has just added a collection of oversized technical drawings from the Gregson and Ellis Architectural Drawings Collection that document the experiences of “living and receiving medical and mental health care in the mid-20th century segregated South,” according to Helen Thomas, the outreach archivist at Kennesaw State University Archives.

The collection, available at https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/gkj_gead, features facilities located across Baldwin, Richmond, Treutlen, Ware, and Wayne counties in Georgia. The digitized drawings will also be made available through KSU’s Scholarly Online Access Repository (SOAR) at https://soar.kennesaw.edu/handle/11360/5132.

Some images from the collection include:

Title: Treutlen County Hospital. Details of nurses station
Collection: Gregson and Ellis Architectural Drawings
https://dlg.usg.edu/record/gkj_gead_treutlen-020
Title: Augusta State Hospital Complex. [Floor plan – first floor]
Collection: Gregson and Ellis Architectural Drawings
https://dlg.usg.edu/record/gkj_gead_augusta-005

Thomas, who works regularly with these materials, adds: “Architectural records demonstrate not only trends in construction and design, but also reflect the society in which the buildings exist…The materials we proposed to digitize depict public facilities, from small rural hospitals to large medical complexes, representing the medical services available to all Georgians regardless of their level of income.”

She concludes: “Since each set of drawings shows public facilities built in Georgia before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, these drawings demonstrate how buildings were constructed to segregate not only by the facility but also within facilities. While some of the drawings in this collection reveal separate buildings constructed for the same purpose, but each restricted to white or African-American citizens (such as separate psychiatric buildings in the Milledgeville complex for white and African-American patients), some show how individual buildings were segregated. An example of the latter is the Augusta State Hospital, which shows separate entrances, waiting areas, restrooms, cafeterias, pharmacies, pediatric wings, and locker rooms for white and African-American patients and employees.”

Barbara Berney, Ph.D., MPH, used the Gregson and Ellis materials in her documentary Power to Heal: Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution, and says:

“This documentary examines the history of inequality in Americans’ access to health care, and specifically how Medicare was used to desegregate thousands of hospitals across the country. As a scholar of public health and the U. S. health care system, I was inspired to produce the film by hearing eyewitness accounts from physicians, nurses, and government staffers involved in the integration effort and those who struggled to provide health services in rural areas lacking the most basic medical care. The Gregson and Ellis collection provided context for these firsthand accounts by illustrating the physical space in which these health care professionals were working…In addition to providing multiple examples of public hospitals of this era, these drawings show that the public medical facilities available to African Americans were not only separate but could also be limited in size and capabilities.”

About the Kennesaw State University Archives

The Kennesaw State University Archives is a destination for university and community members to research the history of Kennesaw State University and people and organizations in north and northwest Georgia. The mission of the KSU Archives is to identify, collect and make accessible records of enduring value to preserve institutional and community memory into the future. For more information, visit archives.kennesaw.edu.

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National Digital Newspaper Program Update

Since August 2019, the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) has been at work on our second round of participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant. The program is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC) to “develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages.”

As Georgia’s representative in the program, the DLG coordinates with the NEH, the LC, the Georgia Archives, and vendor partners both domestic and international to digitize some of the state’s most historically significant newspapers. Last year, an advisory board comprised of archivists, genealogists, historians, humanities professionals, librarians, and journalists selected thirteen Georgia newspaper titles for digitization as part of the NDNP grant. The titles listed below will be digitized and made available over the next six months on both the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website and the DLG’s Georgia Historic Newspapers (GHN) website. The linked titles have already been made available online:

  • Atlanta Constitution, 1887-1903
  • Atlanta Georgian, 1912-1914
  • Atlanta Semi-Weekly Journal, 1901-1920
  • Atlanta Tri-Weekly Journal, 1920-1925
  • Golden Age, 1906-1915
  • Jeffersonian, 1907-1917
  • Watson’s Weekly Jeffersonian, 1907
  • Weekly Jeffersonian, 1907

During our previous NDNP grant cycle, the DLG digitized an additional 110,000 historical newspaper pages between 2017 and 2019. Those newspaper issues are freely available to the public on both the Chronicling America and Georgia Historic Newspapers websites. The following titles were digitized as part of the grant:

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