Civil rights content from Brown Media Archives and UGA Libraries in the PBS series “The Future of America’s Past”

Title screen from the PBS program "The Future of America's Past"

On the May 17th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ruled against segregation in public schools, we are pleased to report that civil rights content from the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection and the University of Georgia Libraries, available in the Civil Rights Digital Library and the Digital Library of Georgia were included in “School Interrupted,” an episode from the second season of the PBS series “The Future of America’s Past.”

This content includes:

  • footage from a WSB-TV newsfilm clip dated July 27, 1962, that includes scenes related to the closure of public schools and education for African Americans in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The WSB-TV collection consists of over 5 million feet of newsfilm from WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, and coverage of national civil rights events, such as those in Prince Edward County, Virginia.

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court in the Brown v. Board of Education case ruled against segregation in public schools. That case included a case against segregated education that was brought against Prince Edward County in 1951. After the Brown ruling, Virginia state officials instituted a plan of “massive resistance” to court-ordered integration, passing laws to close integrated schools and provide tuition grants to displaced white students. After both state and federal courts overturned the school closing law in January 1959, governor J. Lindsay Almond called a special legislative session and announced the end to the state’s policy of massive resistance. That fall, leaders in Prince Edward County chose to close the public school system rather than allow integration. White citizens established the Prince Edward School Foundation as a private school system for the 1,500 white school children in the county. The 1,700 African American schoolchildren were left without educational opportunities in the county. Some were sent to live with relatives in other parts of Virginia and attend classes there, some began college early, and some accepted arrangements to attend school in other states; most remained out of school until the fall of 1964 when federal courts ordered Prince Edward County to reopen its public school system.

In the episode “School Interrupted,” the program highlights a student strike in Prince Edward County that followed the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The program’s host, Ed Ayers, learns about the drama that unfolded through conversations with two of the student strikers. He discovers how black women activists defied the school closures by starting grassroots schools, and he meets an author whose grandfather helped start the whites-only “segregation academy” Prince Edward Academy. In a museum at the school that started it all, Ed Ayers talks with a descendant of strikers who inspires students today to take up the fight for justice.

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DLG awards four Competitive Digitization service grants to Georgia cultural heritage institutions across the state

Four institutions are recipients of the sixth set of service grants awarded in a program intended to broaden partner participation in the DLG. The DLG solicited proposals for historic digitization projects in a statewide call, and applicants submitted proposals for projects with a cost of up to $7,500.00 The projects will be administered by DLG staff who will perform digitization and descriptive services on textual (not including newspapers), graphic, and audio-visual materials. This subgranting program was presented the 2018 Award for Excellence in Archival Program Development by a State Institution by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC).

The recipients and their projects include:

Chipley Historical Center of Pine Mountain (Pine Mountain, Ga.)

  • Digitization of the record book of the Sardis Church of Christ, dated 1828-1915. The Sardis Church of Christ was associated with the Primitive Baptist Church in Harris County, Georgia.

Kennesaw State University Archives (Kennesaw, Ga.)

  • Digitization of drawings created and produced by the architectural firm Gregson and Ellis and its predecessor, Gregson and Associates. These materials include a selection of architectural drawings of facilities that provided public medical and mental health care in various counties in the State of Georgia, from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

Peachtree City Library (Peachtree City, Ga.)

  • Digitization of materials documenting the conceptual beginnings and history of Peachtree City, Georgia, one of the country’s most successful post-World War II “new towns.”

Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection (Athens, Ga.)

  • Description of 250 episodes of the Parade of Quartets, the longest continuous-running gospel program on television in the United States, which has aired on WJBF in Augusta, Georgia since 1953, and has featured African American gospel groups.

Preference in the selection process was given to proposals from institutions that had not yet collaborated with the DLG. Chipley Historical Center of Pine Mountain and the Peachtree City Library are both new partners for the DLG. Sheila McAlister, director of the Digital Library of Georgia notes: “This newest set of subgrant awards represents the rich cultural diversity of the state. The projects document early Primitive Baptist life; the interplay between architecture and public health; the development of planned communities; and religious musical heritage. We’re happy to add two new partners.”

About the Chipley Historical Center of Pine Mountain

The Chipley Historical Center is located in Pine Mountain, Georgia next to City Hall in the original city hall building, built just after the turn of the twentieth century, and still contains the original jail cells. Learn more at the Chipley Historical Center’s web site at chipleyhistoriccenter.org.

About the Kennesaw State University Archives

The Kennesaw State University Archives is a destination for university and community members to research the history of Kennesaw State University and people and organizations in north and northwest Georgia. Our professional archivists provide a range of services, including collection description and organization, reference consultations, reproduction requests, record transfers and donations, and training opportunities, as well as guidance on the preservation and maintenance of paper, audio-visual, and digital materials. Visit their web site at archives.kennesaw.edu.

About the Peachtree City Library

The Peachtree City Library serves the residents of Peachtree City, Georgia with adult programs, children’s programs, and is a proud member of the PINES Library Consortium. Learn more at their web site, peachtree-city.org/125/Library.

About the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection is home to more than 90,000 titles and 5,000,000 feet of newsfilm, making it the third-largest broadcasting archive in the country, behind only the Library of Congress and UCLA. The Archives comprise moving image and sound collections that focus on American television and radio broadcasting, and the music, folklore, and history of Georgia. There are more than 50,000 television programs and more than 39,500 radio programs in the Archives, in addition to audio folk music field tapes and home movies from rural Georgia. Their mission is to preserve, protect, and provide access to the moving image and sound materials that reflect the collective memory of broadcasting and the history of the state of Georgia and its people. Learn more at libs.uga.edu/media/index.html.

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.

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