Old Georgia Homes is a blog that began in 2015 as a hobby for me as a Georgia history and old house enthusiast and has since grown to 60,000 social media followers. One of the goals of the blog is to share house histories and notable personalities in an engaging format to an audience that is primarily under the age of 40. I believe that it is important to share homes and history all over the state–small towns have as much reader engagement as large cities. I partner with historical societies and preservation organizations to share local success stories and am proud to see our audience members taking trips to small towns after learning about them on the blog.
The Digital Library of Georgia’s Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive is a valuable tool in researching old homes throughout Georgia. Sometimes old houses may tell us clues about their former owners. Many times, they do not. Older newspapers often have a lot of information about the families of historic homes, and usually some details of their construction. The Archive allows me to bring new and different information about some of these old homes and businesses. Social history adds engaging content for my audience versus just architectural details on the house. Stories that get passed down through the generations may change over time. The Archive provides an avenue to find the story when it was a current event.
The Georgia Historic Newspaper Archive has been invaluable for information about homes in smaller towns all over the state. Leading families often owned historic homes in smaller cities, and the local newspaper covered them extensively. I’m able to add details about a party held in the home, dinner menus, a wedding, or other significant events that took place in the home. This type of information helps to bring an old house to life.
Finally, the Newspaper Archive has a great deal of information on businesses that were in operation at the time. Old advertisements combined with news and editorials provide an excellent snapshot of the timeframe. What were the major topics of the day? What business was in that old building on Main Street? These are factual answers the Georgia Historic Newspaper Archive can help provide.
Combining the Georgia Historic Newspaper Archive, along with the Vanishing Georgia photograph collection from the Georgia Archives helps to bring the story of a house – and its families – to life.
“Moving Photographs: A Vanishing Georgia” is the result of a research and creative scholarship project I have been working on for quite some time now. I was introduced to the Vanishing Georgia collection about ten years ago while teaching as a Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia. I dabbled in the archive for research purposes and taught a special topics course, titled Visual Culture, Rhetoric and Performance, in which students learned methods for analyzing and performing images from the Vanishing Georgia collection.
In spring 2018, I was awarded a research grant by the Augusta University Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, where I currently am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication. The grant enabled me to move the project toward a fully staged theater production, a dream I have had for a while now. With the project, I was (and still am) interested in exploring the stories and memories evoked through the performance of the photographs, and how these glimpses of Georgia’s past impact culture and life in Georgia today. Over the summer, I researched the archive and began writing the script. I also created research and writing prompts for the student-performers so that we could collaborate in the script writing process. The result of our labors is a performance that uses visual, communication, theater, and performance studies theories and methodologies to critically analyze, represent, and recreate the Vanishing Georgia collection–and specifically, a selection of photographs collected from the Augusta area. Access to the photographs by means of the Digital Library of Georgia and the Georgia Archives has been pivotal to our process in both writing and staging our script. We are looking forward to sharing our archival and photographic discoveries with our community.
– Melanie O’Meara, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
Theatre AUG’s production titled “Moving Photographs: A Vanishing Georgia” ran in Augusta University’s Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre March 21- March 24, 2019.
The Vanishing Georgia Photographic Collection of almost 18,000 images is the result of a Georgia Archives project begun in the mid-1970s to locate and copy historically significant photographs held by individuals throughout Georgia. A National Endowment for the Humanities grant supported an expansion of the project from 1977-1979, and images continued to be added to the collection until 1996. Digitization of the photographs was a joint project of the Georgia Archives and the Digital Library of Georgia.