Urban planning, civil rights, and trends in landscape design in Savannah are highlighted in the newest collection available from the Digital Library of Georgia

5600PC-10, Minutes of the Park and Tree Commission, Volume 1, page 60 (page 72 of digitized item), November 9, 1896

In partnership with The City of Savannah Municipal Archives, the Digital Library of Georgia has just made the minutes of the Park and Tree Commission 1896-1929 available freely online.  

The historical significance of the collection may not be obvious at first, but Luciana Spracher, director for the City of Savannah Municipal Archives, describes its importance to contemporary research: 

“While on the surface the Park and Tree Commission Minutes might seem mundane, upon closer inspection they contain important information that reflects the intersections of urban planning and civil rights, trends in landscape design, development of Savannah’s cemeteries (both African American and white, since Savannah’s cemeteries were originally segregated), and details such as the use of convict labor in city infrastructure projects; all topics that draw on current socio-political trends and that are largely underrepresented in scholarship.”  

She adds:  

“Minutes from the early 20th-century discuss issues surrounding segregation of public facilities, such as public pools and park benches. These records offer insider perspectives into the decision-making process related to these Jim Crow-era policies that are not often found in governmental records.” 

Spracher also describes the importance of digitizing the collection for accessibility:  

“Currently this collection is underutilized by researchers because it is available only on site in our research facility in Savannah and is often overlooked as researchers are likely to believe it contains information limited to topics such as tree planting, parks and playgrounds. By digitizing the collection and sharing it through the Digital Library of Georgia (and thereby through the Digital Public Library of America), it will become more widely accessible to researchers in broad geographic locations.” 

Daves Rossell, professor of architectural history at the Savannah College of Art and Design 

adds:  “Having a doctorate in American architectural and urban history, with a specialty in vernacular architecture and cultural landscape, I have had call to use the Municipal Archives on many occasions, including in preparation for historic district nominations, historic landscape recordation, and a variety of research on individual buildings. Without the Park and Tree Commission’s records, such fundamental aspects of our civic heritage would be as good as lost. The Park and Tree Commission records are among the most diverse and valuable resources available on many such topics.” 

Link to featured images:  

Title: 5600PC-10, Minutes of the Park and Tree Commission, Volume 1, page 60 (page 72 of digitized item), November 9, 1896 

On November 9, 1896, the Park and Tree Commission minutes cover a range of topics including the sidewalk in Colonial Park Cemetery, the use of convict labor in parks and squares, working with Public Schools to interest children in plants, photographs taken by John C. Olmstead, and the replacement of trees after storm damage. 
Minutes of the Park and Tree Commission, Volume 1, page 60 (page 72 of digitized item), November 9, 1896
Title: 5600PC-10, Minutes of the Park and Tree Commission, Volume 2, page 370 (page 374 of digitized item) October 6, 1919 
Description:  On October 6, 1919, the Park and Tree Commission minutes cover topics including the prohibition of “negroes” from Laurel Grove North Cemetery and a requirement of a photograph for “negro servants” allowed to care for lots, as well as the use of Emmet Park or Franklin Square for a Naval Radio Station. 

About the City of Savannah Municipal Archives  

The City of Savannah Municipal Archives collects, manages, preserves, and makes accessible records documenting the City of Savannah’s history; administers the records management program and the City Records Center to increase the efficiency of City agencies; and shares the City’s history with City employees, citizens, and visitors through outreach activities. The Municipal Archives services reference requests from researchers and the general public which relate to archival and historical City records under its administration in the City Records Center, and shares the City’s history through a variety of public outreach activities, including tours of City Hall, permanent and rotating exhibits, and special programs. Discover the Archives at www.savannahga.gov/MunicipalArchives.   

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 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.  

Visit the DLG at dlg.usg.edu

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

Twitter: @DigLibGA 


Have a listen: The Georgia Loyalist Delegate Challenge at the 1968 Democratic National Convention

JULIAN BOND TALKS ABOUT SEATING FOR GEORGIA DELEGATION IN CHICAGO, wsbn54386, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1483, 33:50/35:18, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, https://dlg.usg.edu/record/ugabma_wsbn_wsbn54386

Exciting news for our colleague Donnie Summerlin!

Our Digital Projects Archivist Donnie Summerlin recently appeared on the Political Junkie podcast to discuss an article he recently wrote, “‘We Represented the Best of Georgia in Chicago’: The Georgia Loyalist Delegate Challenge at the 1968 Democratic National Convention” which appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of the Georgia Historical Quarterly. Ken Rudin, who has hosted the Political Junkie podcast since 2013, is the former political editor for National Public Radio (NPR).

The episode is available at https://www.krpoliticaljunkie.com/episode-338/

Donnie Summerlin’s segment begins at the 36:00 minute mark.

The discussion revolves around how, in August 1968, a group of dissident Georgia Democrats organized a challenge to the state’s certified delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The challenge began as a protest of the politics of segregationist governor Lester Maddox by moderates in the state Democratic party, but it transitioned into a cooperative effort between Georgia’s civil rights and antiwar movement activists to undermine the autocratic influence of party leaders in determining who would represent them at the convention. State representative and civil rights activist Julian Bond led the credentials fight in Chicago that ultimately resulted in the Loyalist challengers earning half the state’s delegates from the party regulars and Bond, himself, becoming the first African American nominated for vice president by a major party in the United States. This effort illustrated the Georgia Democratic Party’s bumpy transition from a conservative organization to a liberal one in the second half of the twentieth century. Additionally, the challenge was a significant event in the eventual reformation and democratization of the Democratic Party’s national delegate and presidential candidate selection process.

Congratulations to Donnie, and thanks to Ken Rudin for a great podcast!