Flannery O’Connor’s Appearances in the Georgia Catholic Diocesan Paper The Bulletin

by Daniel Britt, Mandy Mastrovita, and Donnie Summerlin

The Digital Library of Georgia, in conjunction with our partners at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah, recently digitized the historic Bulletin newspaper (1920-1962) and made it publicly available on the Georgia Historic Newspapers website.

The Bulletin was first published in January 1920 as the official organ for the Catholic Laymen’s Association of Georgia and shortly became Georgia’s leading Catholic newspaper.

In 1963, the publication split into two separate diocesan papers, the Bulletin (Archdiocese of Atlanta) and the Southern Cross (Diocese of Savannah). Among the paper’s vast array of content, it [still] includes reviews of Catholic written works.

From 1956 to 1964, Georgia writer Flannery O’Connor regularly contributed to the paper’s book reviews section. However, her first appearance in the publication was where she was credited as a budding cartoonist.

The Bulletin (Augusta, Ga.) 1920-1957, June 26, 1943, page 10

Stephanie Braddy, Director of Archives & Records Management, Catholic Diocese of Savannah, notes that for O’Connor researchers “the articles offer further insight into Ms. O’Connor’s wit and personality, as well as her firmly held beliefs related to writing, and Catholicism.”

Well-known as a devout Catholic, she reviewed 143 titles spanning genres in both nonfiction and fiction, but, more specifically, she almost always explored Christian subject matter.

As evidenced by her desire to review works by controversial figures such as the French Jesuit priest and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, O’Connor displayed a deep interest in increasing her intellectual engagement with Catholicism.

Matt Davis, Director of Historic Museums at Georgia College & State University, observes that : “Flannery O’Connor kept a very strict schedule during the last years of her life in Milledgeville.  “Rising early to attend mass, she would then spend the remainder of her morning writing as her health allowed. With easy online access to O’Connor’s work in The Bulletin, the public and scholars of all levels have been provided another window to show how her faith and writing intertwined.”

These reviews were intended for a Catholic audience and focused on religious topics. As a result, they provide insights into O’Connor’s writing process not readily found in her works of fiction.

In his introduction to Leo J. Zuber’s compilation of O’Connor book reviews The Presence of Grace and Other Book Reviews by Flannery O’Connor, Carter W. Martin remarks, “one of the pleasures. . . is to savor the quality of Flannery O’Connor’s mind at work on the serious intellectual content of her faith. Here is confirmation, if we need it, that her art arose from religious convictions that she subjected to intense scrutiny not only in her heart but in her mind as well.”

Below, we’ve curated select pages from the Bulletin featuring writing by and about Flannery O’Connor. The paper’s run is available on the Georgia Historic Newspapers website, https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/gua1449731/ , and O’Connor’s appearances have been gathered together here.

Selected images: 

O’Connor’s first book review appeared in the Bulletin’s March 3, 1956 issue, an issue in which her collection of short stories, entitled ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find,’ was also reviewed. Regarding her first book review, O’Connor noted to Notre Dame professor John Lynch, “As for fiction, the motto of the Catholic press should be: We guarantee to corrupt nothing but your taste.”

The Bulletin, March 3, 1956. https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/gua1449731/1956-03-03/ed-1/seq-15/

In an unusually lengthy three-column Bulletin article, O’Connor reviewed Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s ‘The Phenomenon of Man.’

The Bulletin (Monroe, Ga.), February 20, 1960. https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/gua1189460/1960-02-20/ed-1/seq-3/

A front-page editorial for The Georgia Bulletin’s book supplement section, by O’Connor, entitled “Fiction is Subject With A History – It Should Be Taught that Way.” She argues the importance of a firm understanding of the past, writing that “many students go to college unaware that the world was not made yesterday…”

The Georgia Bulletin (Atlanta, Ga.), March 21, 1963. https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn22193774/1963-03-21/ed-1/seq-8/

Materials from the Augusta Jewish Museum documenting more than two centuries of Jewish life, culture, foodways, and tradition are now available online.

Selected by statewide cultural heritage stakeholders and funded by the DLG’s competitive digitization grant program, this collection is the Augusta Jewish Museum’s first collaboration with the DLG and is available here:

Augusta Jewish Museum Collection

The collection contains historical materials dating from 1850 to 2022 that come from a diverse group of Jewish creators, including youth, women, clergy, fraternities, and congregations that offer unique insights into the greater Augusta, Georgia region’s Jewish life, philanthropy, foodways, and experiences.

Rabbi David Sirull of the Adas Yeshurun Synagogue in Augusta emphasizes the importance of making this work accessible freely online.

“It is important that we remember our place in history as we move to the future. The Augusta Jewish Museum allows for valuable content to be procured, preserved, and disseminated that tells the story of Jewish heritage in the Central Savannah River Area that encompasses the Augusta, Georgia area…This content is invaluable to researchers in defining the ways of Jewish life in the Southeast.”

About the Augusta Jewish Museum 

The Augusta Jewish Museum and its programming chronicle the life, history, and contributions of the Jewish community in the Central Savannah River Area. The museum also educates about Jewish traditions, remembering the Holocaust, and Israel–the land and its people. Their website is: https://www.augustajewishmuseum.org/.

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 by developing, maintaining, and preserving 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.

Selected images from the collections:

Title: Book of Handwritten Poetry, Rosina Hendricks Levy URL: https://dlg.usg.edu/record/augjm_augjmc_2019-003-010 Collection: Augusta Jewish Museum Collection Courtesy of the Augusta Jewish Museum Description: Paper-bound book of poetry bound with twine into a single volume, handwritten pages. Rosina’s Book of Poetry is an essential part of local Jewish history as a rich, female, first-person perspective of the beginning of the Jewish congregation in Augusta. Rosina Hendricks, daughter of the first Jewish family who arrived in Augusta in 1802, authored this book that remains unpublished. Written throughout her adult life, the book includes poems written to her husband and children, on life in Georgia and the South, and on Judaism and her experiences as a Jewish woman. She played a key role in establishing the religious school that would eventually become the Congregation Children of Israel.



Title: “United for Worship and Charity” by Jack Steinberg
URL: https://dlg.usg.edu/record/augjm_augjmc_2022-005-004
Collection: Augusta Jewish Museum Collection
Courtesy of the Augusta Jewish Museum
Description: Staple-bound booklet about the history and community of Congregation Children of Israel, authored by Jack Steinberg
Title: Daughters of Israel Cook Book, page 8 of 88
URL: https://dlg.usg.edu/record/augjm_augjmc_2021-054-001
Collection: Augusta Jewish Museum Collection
Courtesy of the Augusta Jewish Museum
Description: Synagogue Cookbook (1950s), Paper spiral bound with plastic spine, published by the Adas Yeshurun Synagogue’s (AYS) Daughters of Israel.