Our Newest Georgia Exhibit “Thy Neighbor as Thyself” (March 2024)

Photo of the Graduating Class of the Atlanta School of Social Work, 1920

The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) and the New Georgia Encyclopedia (NGE) are pleased to present Georgia Exhibits’ newest exhibition, curated by Kailey Joy McAlpin, “‘Thy Neighbor As Thyself’: The Women Who Shaped Georgia’s Civic Landscape.” 

Kailey Joy McAlpin, a Ph.D. student at Georgia State University, explores Georgia’s women reformers of the Progressive Era, some of whom include Mary Latimer McLendon, Mildred Lewis Rutherford, Carrie Steele, Helen Pendleton, Lugenia Burns Hope, Jessie Daniel Ames, Selena Sloan Butler, Martha Berry, and Julia Flisch.

Photo of Lugenia Burns Hope
“Lugenia Burns Hope.” 1871/1947. February 27, 2024. Courtesy of New Georgia Encyclopedia

These women came from different class backgrounds and had different racial attitudes and practices. McAlpin uses the theme and motto “Thy Neighbor as Thyself” to center the work done by Black women during the Progressive Era, both with and without the support of their white Progressive counterparts.

Photo of the Graduating Class of the Atlanta School of Social Work, 1920
“Graduating Class of Atlanta School of Social Work, circa 1920.” February 27, 2024. Courtesy of Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library

McAlpin’s work dedicates itself to bringing the differences between white and Black women reformers to light. She explains that access to materials, resources, and support was much more abundant to white women than their Black peers, not to mention the actual risk of life and limb posed to Black women, particularly with regard to suffrage. She states:

“While Black suffragists in the North could form organizations and advocate for voting rights, the hostile racial climate of the South and fear of violent retaliation from Southern whites kept many Black women from making public demands for suffrage. Despite the looming threat of assault and death, some Black women did publicly advocate for suffrage, and examples of Black suffrage organizations have been recovered in Tuskegee, Alabama, Charleston, South Carolina, and Memphis, Tennessee. While evidence of Black women’s suffrage in the Jim Crow South has often been hidden from the historical record, there was doubtless support for voting rights that took place behind closed doors in spaces removed from white surveillance.”

For better or worse, the engagement of these women and their respective organizations with their day’s pressing political issues and social concerns had a tremendous impact on voting access, child labor laws, rural education, public health legislation, racial inequality and injustice, and other social causes.

Photo of Selena Sloan Butler
Box 7, Folder 4, Selena Sloan Butler papers, Archives Division, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.. “Photographs, Selena Sloan Butler, undated.” 1886/1893. February 27, 2024. Courtesy of Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History

Each year, DLG and NGE staff and graduate student interns curate Georgia Exhibits exhibitions to shed new light on understudied corners of the state’s history and showcase the remarkable breadth and depth of authoritative resources and historical content in the DLG and NGE. We offer all of these resources freely online.

You can view the exhibition at https://georgia-exhibits.galileo.usg.edu/spotlight/women-reformers and the rest of our Georgia Exhibits at https://georgia-exhibits.galileo.usg.edu.

K-12 educators take note: This exhibit serves our Georgia K-12 social studies audience by aligning with the Georgia Social Studies Standards of Excellence (GSE) standard SSUSH13: Evaluate efforts to reform American society and politics in the Progressive Era.


#HistoricPreservation #ProgressiveEra #Equality #WomensReform #CivilRights


Standard Telephone Company Records documenting Standard Telephone Company’s provision of services to rural northeast Georgians for the past century are now available online.

Selected by statewide cultural heritage stakeholders and funded by the DLG’s competitive digitization grant program, this collection is the Habersham County Historical Society’s first collaboration with the DLG and is available here:

Standard Telephone Company Records

The collection contains historical materials dating from 1904 to 1999 that come from the archives of the independently-owned Standard Telephone Company. Headquartered in Cornelia, it provided telephone service to rural northeast Georgians. Among the materials are items recognizing fifty years of service from the Standard Telephone Company’s longtime employee, Henry Davis, an African-American telephone engineer, the first in Georgia and possibly the nation.

Dean C. Swanson, former president of STC Holdings, and Jim Johnson, former president of Standard Telephone Company, jointly establish the importance of making this work accessible freely online.

“The Independent Telephone Companies in Georgia had the most difficult economic and physical deployments due to the nature of the rural areas; these pioneers persevered with great risks. Digitization would be a great tribute to them.  Additionally, the circumstances and conditions under which the Standard Telephone Company was developed are highly generalizable. They can serve to glean similar processes in other rural areas for which this kind of history is not available. While the Habersham County Historical Society has a museum of Standard Telephone’s history and phone apparatus, we know too well that the younger generation will often turn to online digitized history to learn about the history of this industry. Given that, we feel digitizing this information is of great value to future generations.”

About the Habersham County Historical Society 

The Habersham County Historical Society was formed on February 22, 1973, by twelve citizens from Clarkesville, Cornelia, and Demorest on the campus of Piedmont College. In 2018, the society compiled the county’s history in a bicentennial publication: A Brief History 1818 – 2018, Habersham200: New Thoughts of Old Things. To celebrate the society’s 50th Year Golden Jubilee – a commemorative edition was published and is available on Amazon. The celebration was hosted by Piedmont University on March 11, 2023, and celebrated the entire county.

Visit https://www.habershamcountyhistorical50.com/ for highlights of the celebration.

You can find Habersham County Historical Society online at: https://habershamhistoricalsociety.org/.


About the Digital Library of Georgia

The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) serves as Georgia’s statewide cultural heritage digitization initiative. It is a joint project between the University of Georgia Libraries and GALILEO. The DLG collaborates with Georgia’s cultural heritage and educational institutions to provide free online access to historic resources in Georgia. The DLG not only develops, maintains, and preserves digital collections and online resources but also partners to build digitization capacity and technical infrastructure. It acts as Georgia’s service hub for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and facilitates cooperative digitization initiatives. The DLG serves as the home of the Georgia Newspaper Project, Georgia’s print journalism preservation project.


Selected images from the collection:













Title: Telephone Directory 1945

URL: https://dlg.usg.edu/record/hchsi_stcr_stc-pd1945

Collection: Standard Telephone Company records

Courtesy of the Habersham County Historical Society (Ga.)

Description: 1945 telephone directory for the Standard Telephone Company of Cornelia, Georgia, which served Habersham County in northeast Georgia.













Title: Original company charter STC

URL: https://dlg.usg.edu/record/hchsi_stcr_stc-charter 

Collection: Standard Telephone Company records

Courtesy of the Habersham County Historical Society (Ga.)

Description: Original company charter for the Standard Telephone Company of Cornelia, Georgia.


Title: DEDICATION Henry Davis Building June 21, 1986

URL: https://dlg.usg.edu/record/hchsi_stcr_stc-dedication

Collection: Standard Telephone Company records

Courtesy of the Habersham County Historical Society (Ga.)

Description: Page 2 of a pamphlet celebrating the dedication of the Henry Davis Building, recognizing fifty years of service from the Standard Telephone Company’s longtime employee, Henry Davis. Davis was an African American telephone engineer, the first in Georgia and possibly the nation.