New collection about pro- and anti-LGBTQ activities in Cobb County, Georgia circa 1995 are now available freely online

Image of LGBTQ+ activist, presenting male, speaking into a microphone during a press gaggle.

Pro- and anti-LGBTQ activities and demonstrations in Cobb County circa 1995 are the main component of a new digital collection belonging to Georgia State University Special Collections, funded by a competitive digitization grant awarded by the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG). GSU Special Collections received a service grant awarded in 2020 to broaden the DLG’s engagement with diverse institutions and collections across the state of Georgia. 

The Carol Brown Papers, 1993-2012 (bulk 1993-1994) document pro- and anti- LGBTQ+ activities and legislation in Cobb County, and belong to Georgia State University Special Collections’ LGBTQ Digital Collection, available at https://digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu/digital/collection/lgbtq.  

In July of 1993, in response to complaints by residents, Cobb County Chairman Bill Byrne challenged county funding for Marietta’s Theatre in the Square, particularly as two of its plays– David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly and Terrence McNally’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart — included mild gay themes. 

In August, Cobb County commissioner Gordon Wysong led the Cobb County Board of Commissioners to two anti-LGBT+ resolutions: one specifying that funding would only be provided for art that promoted “strong community, family-oriented standards,” and the other stating that “lifestyles advocated by the gay community should not be endorsed by government policymakers, because they are incompatible with the standards to which this community subscribes; and that gay lifestyle units are directly contrary to state law.” 

Marietta civic leader and activist Jon Greaves and local community members immediately responded by organizing together as the Cobb Citizens Coalition (CCC) to challenge the resolutions.

The CCC gained important allies in February 1994, when Atlanta-based activists Pat Hussain and Jon-Ivan Weaver established Olympics Out of Cobb County (OOCC). Their mission was to persuade Atlanta’s Committee for the Olympic Games not to hold the women’s volleyball competition in Cobb County as planned. Their efforts succeeded: ultimately, the women’s volleyball competition was held in Athens at the University of Georgia instead, and the Olympic torch bypassed Cobb County altogether. 

While CCC was active, CCC member and Marietta resident Carol Brown documented the organization’s activities and those of OOCC by recording protests, marches, and local news coverage, using audiocassettes, videotape, and photography. 

She also saved almost-daily newspaper reports, providing a wide range of coverage of events as they unfolded in Cobb County. The audiovisual materials have been digitized and described by the DLG as part of its service grant, and the newspaper reports were digitized in-house at Georgia State University. 

Carol Brown also recounted her personal memories in an oral history that is part of the Activist Women’s Oral History Project. Together, they provide a rich and powerful narrative about a small community’s response to local discrimination that garnered international interest. 

Carol Brown’s materials are unique and significant to Georgia because so much of Georgia’s recorded LGBTQ+ history has been Atlanta-focused. Carol Brown’s materials focus on pro-and anti- LGBTQ+ activities in traditionally conservative Cobb County. They are also important because they highlight several challenging backstories about art censorship, community protest, and the 1995 Olympic Games that garnered national and international interest. 

View the collection online

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More about the Carol Brown Papers, 1993-2012 (bulk 1993-1994) Collection

Digitization of audiovisual items from the Carol Brown Papers, 1993-2012 (bulk 1993-1994) focusing on pro-and anti- LGBTQ+ activities in traditionally conservative Cobb County and the campaign to move 1996 Olympic events out of the County. Furthermore, in a time of daily protest that we find ourselves in now, the collection illustrates the power of creative, peaceful protest.

About the Georgia State University Special Collections and Archives (Women’s/ Gender and Sexuality Collections)

The Women’s Collections chronicle women’s activism and advocacy in Georgia and the Southeast. Within this curatorial area are several notable collections: the Donna Novak Coles Georgia Women’s Movement Archives, the Lucy Hargrett Draper Collections on Women’s Rights, Advocacy and the Law, and the Archives for Research on Women. For more information, read the Women’s Collections research guides at research.library.gsu.edu/womenscollections. The Gender and Sexuality Collections document LGBTQ+ communities in Georgia and the Southeast. For more information, read the Gender and Sexuality research guide at https://research.library.gsu.edu/c.php?g=912561.

About the Digital Library of Georgia

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia 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 by developing, maintaining, and preserving 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. 

Visit the DLG at dlg.usg.edu.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/DigitalLibraryofGeorgia/ 

Twitter: @DigLibGA

 

Selected stills from the collection: 

Image of LGBTQ+ activist, presenting male, speaking into a microphone during a press gaggle.
Image courtesy of Georgia State University. Special Collections Title : [Press conference to announce rally on Square, June ’94. Raw footage. CD ???] Description: Still image from a video recording of a press conference held to announce a demonstration entitled “And justice for all, Cobb rally for human rights” to be held on August 28, 1993, the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Leaders from three co-sponsoring organizations, the Marietta Interfaith Alliance, the Network for Social Responsibility, and the Cobb Citizens Coalition, give statements and answer questions from the press about the rally and their reasons for holding it, which is for the Cobb Commission to change or rescind an anti-LGBTQ+/anti-gay resolution negating the human rights of gay citizens of Cobb County, Georgia.
Image of civil rights activist and public intellectual Loretta Ross, seated, speaking into a microphone
Image courtesy of Georgia State University. Special Collections Title : [Stop Hate Politics seminar 11/6/1993. Meg Riley, Hans Johnson, Loretta Ross. Tape 1] Description: Still image from video recording of a portion of the “Stop Hate in Politics” seminar entitled “Righting the Wrongs of the Religious Right…Can We?” which took place on November 6, 1993. The recording presents speakers (including civil rights activist and public intellectual Loretta Ross, shown in this image) who discuss the manner in which right-wing Christian fundamentalists have weaponized their response to American liberal politics, and the importance of building common ground against violent right-wing trends.
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Birth Registers From Historically Endangered Georgia Nursing Home For Expectant African American Mothers Now Available Freely Online

The Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla, Georgia, and the Digital Library of Georgia have worked together to digitize and present online the birth registers of the mothers and babies born at the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home between 1949-1971. 

This nursing home, located at the home of state-certified midwife Mrs. Beatrice (“Miss Bea”) Borders (1892–1971), was the first and only professional birthing center in the rural South where African American women were allowed by local doctors to receive midwife delivery for their newborns during segregation, Jim Crow depression, and medical deprivation in the 20th century. 

“Miss Bea” and her assistants oversaw over 6,000 births and provided a safe place for African American mothers who had nowhere else to go.

These birth records were recorded in mid-century composition notebooks and contain essential genealogical information. 

Depending on the volume, some entries include the mother’s name, the date she entered the facility, the time of the birth, the baby’s weight, the baby’s gender, and whether there were any complications such as stillbirths. Some entries include additional genealogical information such as occupation, age, and address, birthplace, number of children in the family, and the name of the father.

Melissa Jest, program coordinator for African American Programs at the Georgia Historic Preservation division of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs says: 

“The digitization and cataloging of the records from this Black-owned/operated business present an opportunity for students and researchers to learn about this historically significant place and the people who entered its doors. 

It is our hope that this project will bring awareness to Mrs. Borders and will build support for the physical preservation of where she did her work.

The Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla, Georgia survives as a very rare example of a professional birthing center run by Mrs. Borders, a state-certified midwife.  Increased access to the business records and related documents generated between 1941 and 1971 will assist hundreds of people researching their genealogy and roots in Mitchell County, Georgia.”

View the entire collection online

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About the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011 and named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2021, the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla, Georgia was the private residence and nursing center for a third-generation African American midwife Beatrice Borders (1892-1971), in Camilla, Georgia who provided safe, patient-focused health care for expectant African American mothers during segregation in the 20th century. Learn more at beasbabies.org.  

About the Digital Library of Georgia

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia 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 by developing, maintaining, and preserving 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. 

Visit the DLG at dlg.usg.edu.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/DigitalLibraryofGeorgia/ 

Twitter: @DigLibGA

Selected images from the collection:

Image courtesy of Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home
Title : Book O, 1957 Deliveries
https://dlg.usg.edu/record/gwnh_gwnh_book-o-1957 
Description: Birth register completed by Beatrice Borders, an African American state-certified midwife who established the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Camilla, Georgia, a professional birthing center that served African American women during segregation in the twentieth century. This register accounts for 26 deliveries that took place in 1957. It also lists the “Ga. B. Williams Nursing Home” street address at 176 Dyer Street, Camilla, Georgia.

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