A History Graduate Student Uses DLG Resources to Build an Online Exhibit on Jim Crow in Savannah’s Park System

By Jeff Ofgang

The Savannah Tribune, July 30, 1960. On Page 1 is an article titled “Negroes Petition For Desegregated Recreational Facilities.”

Savannah maintained separate and unequal public park systems for black and white people from the end of the Civil War until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Black Savannahians were barred by custom from entering the largest and finest parks due to Jim Crow segregation.

As a graduate student in public history at Georgia Southern University, I wanted to learn how the City of Savannah enforced park segregation through a combination of social customs and administrative actions.

I interned at the City of Savannah Municipal Archives and continued researching this topic alongside archives director Luciana M. Spracher.

This resulted in the curation and creation of a digital exhibit, “Jim Crow in Savannah’s Parks,” using official documents to detail how racism openly guided decisions by the City of Savannah’s Park and Tree Commission, and by the Mayor and City Council, who decided where and when to build and improve parks and recreation facilities.

The resources of the Digital Library of Georgia were critical to my research.

A digitization subgrant from DLG that was awarded recently to the City of Savannah Municipal Archives paid to digitize the minutes of the Park and Tree Commission from its founding in 1896 through 1972.

I read through sixty years of meeting minutes, a task made possible during the COVID-19 pandemic only because these records were digitized and freely available online, which made it possible for me to access them from home.

The Digital Library of Georgia also has digitized copies of the speech books of Malcolm R. Maclean, the mayor who guided Savannah toward agreements desegregating restaurants, hotels, theaters, and other public accommodations even before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Black-owned newspapers chronicled Jim Crow in Savannah, while the “white” press largely ignored it until the 1950s. The Georgia Historic Newspapers website, maintained by the Digital Library of Georgia, gave me access to decades of the Savannah Tribune, Savannah’s leading black newspaper, which I also used in the exhibit.

The digital exhibit, “Jim Crow in Savannah’s Parks,” is hosted by Georgia Southern University, with links from the City of Savannah website. You can view the exhibit at georgiasouthern.libguides.com/savannahparks

–Editor’s note: A piece on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Political Rewind”  about the exhibit aired on May 17, 2022. Tune in at the 46:00 mark!


Materials documenting the Georgia-based Eighth Air Force, who fought the air war on behalf of the United States against Nazi Germany in World War II, Are Now Available Online.

In partnership with the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, the Digital Library of Georgia has made the Mighty Eighth Air Force Collection available online.

The Eighth Air Force, an American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany, was World War II’s most extended military campaign. It was the only battle fought inside the German homeland until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war.

Activated in 1942 in Savannah, Georgia, the Eighth Air Force moved to England to support the Allied air war against Nazi Germany.

Of the 350,000 members of the Eighth Air Force serving during World War II, 26,000 were killed in action, and another 28,000 became prisoners of war due to the extreme danger of air combat.

As a result, the Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the U.S. Marine Corps.

Instrumental in the victory over Germany, the Eighth grew to be the “greatest air armada of all time.”

In 1944 Eighth Bomber Command used its bombers as bait to attract the Luftwaffe into the air and ordered its fighter pilots to go on the offensive, effectively destroying the solid German presence in the skies. This change in tactics and the continued destruction of strategic military targets allowed for the successful Allied landing on D-Day. In addition, the Eighth provided air support for the invasion, resulting in Allied victory.

The Eighth Air Force is active today and based at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Dr. Vivian Rogers-Price, historian and research center director for the museum, notes:

“Without online access, these photographs and oral history interviews are only available for research through a personal visit to the Roger Freeman Research Center at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. These online resources will aid upper elementary, middle, and high school teachers and their students with courses in Georgia history and World War II. In addition, independent researchers, university professors, and students interested in the Eighth Air Force will find this information valuable.”

About the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force

The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force serves as the only center dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and stories of the Eighth Air Force from World War II to the present. Opened on 14 May 1996, the Mighty Eighth Museum fulfills its unique mission through exhibitions, education programs for adults and children, student tours, preservation of artifacts, and research and publications.  The museum’s Roger A. Freeman Research Center is dedicated to promoting research on Eighth Air Force history and expanding its priceless collection of original manuscripts, photographs, oral history interviews and personal accounts, artifacts, and works of art as well as over ten thousand books significant to the history of the Eighth Air Force. Visit www.mightyeighth.org.

Selected Images from the Collection:

A photograph of a group of servicemen standing in front of the building headquarters for the United States Eighth Air Force Base Command in Savannah, Georgia. A sign on the building reads “Headquarters Eighth Air Force Base Command.” The back of the photograph reads: “Early 1942 Savannah Ga.” In England, on 27 May 1942 Eighth Air Force Base Command was redesignated VIII Air Force Service Command. Image courtesy of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force


A photograph of six officers, taken at the United States Eighth Air Force unit headquarters at High Wycombe, England. Three hundred fifty thousand American servicemen served as part of the unit alongside the British Royal Air Force. From left to right in the photograph: Colonel Leon Johnson, Brigadier General Asa N. Duncan, Colonel Paul L. Williams, Colonel Charles R. Booth, Colonel Charles A. Jones, and Colonel Clarence H. Welch. Image courtesy of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force