Digitized recordings of the radio program Southwind: The New Sounds of the Old Confederacy now available.

The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) is pleased to announce that, in conjunction with the Atlanta History Center, 150 recordings of the radio program Southwind: The New Sounds of the Old Confederacy are now available at http://cdm17222.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p17222coll4. These resources are now online thanks in part to the DLG’s Competitive Digitization grant program, a funding opportunity intended to broaden DLG partner participation for statewide historic digitization projects.

Atlanta journalist Boyd Lewis conceived, created, produced, and hosted Southwind, a half-hour radio program of features and documentaries on the people, issues, and events of the South. The program aired on WABE-FM in Atlanta between November 14, 1980 and January 29, 1987. The collection contains 150 out of the 177 editions that were recorded. Each of the Southwind programs consisted of one to three segments that featured original reporting either by Mr. Lewis or his colleagues in public radio throughout the Southeast. Many of the segments focused on contemporary events that Mr. Lewis placed in historical context, while other segments were retrospectives of past events that featured the voices of the participants. The segments touched upon a broad range of topics relating to the history of Atlanta and the American South in the mid-to-late 20th century, including the Civil Rights Movement; African American history; city and regional economic and cultural development in the southeast; business and labor history; Atlanta theater; folk life; literature, and political history. As such, they are a potentially valuable primary source of scholarly and journalistic inquiry.

Southwind included feature interviews with historical figures such as the authors Erskine Caldwell and Paul Hemphill; educator Benjamin E. Mays, and former President Jimmy Carter. The program also featured commentaries by authors Pearl Cleage and Toni Cade Bambara; and a 1986 recording of author James Dickey reading selections of his poetry. Many episodes included features about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These segments included audio excerpts from many of King’s colleagues, including the Reverend Joseph Lowery and C. T. Vivian. Other features included an assessment of Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young’s first 100 days in office; a segment on threats to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; a profile on civil rights activist Heman Sweatt; a feature on the 1986 Fifth District congressional race between John Lewis and Julian Bond; a story about Atlanta churches offering sanctuaries to immigrants fleeing political turmoil in Latin American countries; a piece on North Carolina’s Greensboro Massacre in 1978 where Klansmen killed five demonstrators; a feature about the Atlanta Crackers and Atlanta Black Crackers baseball teams, and several stories about the series of kidnappings and murders that took place in Atlanta in the late 1970s and early 1980s, known as “the Atlanta Child Murders.”

Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor in the history department at Emory University notes that these digitized resources are “an invaluable resource for researchers and students of the modern history of Atlanta and the South, as well as the history and legacy of the modern civil rights movement.”

About the Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center through its collections, facilities, programs, exhibitions, and publications preserves and interprets historical subjects pertaining to Atlanta and its environs and presents subjects of interest to Atlanta’s diverse audiences.

About the Digital Library of Georgia

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia https://dlg.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.


A Fruitful Partnership for More Than A Decade: the Kenan Research Center and the DLG

For well over a decade, the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center has enjoyed a strategically valuable partnership with the Digital Library of Georgia that has expanded the reach of our collections in immeasurable ways. Through its technical expertise and partnerships with other data aggregators, the Digital Library of Georgia has enabled the Kenan Research Center to provide online access to tens of thousands of digitized pages from archival collections.

Our 2012 partnership with DLG, the University of Georgia and the Georgia Historical Society created over 80,000 digitized pages of records documenting the Civil War in Georgia. Many of the more than 30,000 digitized resources created from the Kenan Research Center’s collections were used extensively in a 2014 documentary aired on Georgia Public Television. 37 Weeks: Sherman on the March won three Emmy’s at the 2015 Southeastern Emmy Awards.

As a partner and content hub for the Digital Public Library of America, in 2013 the Digital Library of Georgia encouraged submissions from archival institutions throughout the state for participation in a project to digitize unpublished historic materials significant to Georgia. This project enabled the Atlanta History Center to provide online access to the papers of Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell. A similar project in 2017 provided funds to digitize 150 programs from WABE’s Southwind series recorded in the 1980s. Most of these digital assets are linked to archival finding aids and hosted at the Digital Library of Georgia.

The Atlanta History Center has further benefited through its partnership with DLG to facilitate online access to nearly 2,000 archival finding aids. Digital Library of Georgia staff set up an instance of Archivist’s Toolkit, the open source archival data management system, at the Atlanta History Center in 2007. DLG staff also configured an online platform specifically developed for the display of our finding aids. The cost effectiveness of this partnership, coupled with the expertise of their staff in providing the setup and continual support of this resource has proven invaluable in ensuring the discoverability of our online resources, thus attracting new researchers to the Kenan Research Center.

The Digital Library of Georgia is an incredible support resource for libraries and archival institutions in the state of Georgia and beyond. The staff at the Kenan Research Center looks forward to new partnerships with the Digital Library of Georgia through grants and other projects.

–Paul Crater, Vice President of Collections and Research Services, Atlanta History Center