The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
Georgia's political heritage program
Repository: University of West Georgia. Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections
Collection Description (Extant): Georgia's Political Heritage Program has its roots in a meeting that took place between politicians Newt Gingrich and Herman Talmadge in the early 1980s. On learning that Talmadge was unhappy with the way his papers were being handled at the University of Georgia, Gingrich suggested The University of West Georgia (known as West Georgia College at the time), with Dr. Mel Steely taking the lead, as a repository for Talmadge's oral history. Professor Steely brought the idea to university president Maurice Townsend, who agreed to provide initial funding of $5,000. The first interview with Talmadge took place in 1984 and over the next ten years, Steely along with Ted Fitz-Simons, Don Wagner, and the help of the UWG TV studio recorded 72 hours with former governor and senator Talmadge.
Out of the early interviews was born the idea to capture a valuable but disappearing historical resource, the memories of Georgia's political leaders as they recount their role in state, regional, and national political history. In addition to Georgia politics, issues discussed include civil rights, segregation, the Vietnam War, and presidential elections. Over the next twenty years, interviews were conducted with more than eighty political figures. Included are interviews with all former governors of the state since WWII, with the exception of M.E. Thomson and Marvin Griffin, who were deceased prior to the program's start. Also included are congressmen, lieutenant governors, senators, and local politicians.
In 2003, the Political Heritage Program was awarded a $37,000 grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation, a non-profit corporation for an upgrade in technology and for help with transcription costs. The collection is housed at Ingram Library's Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections on the university campus, which also houses the political papers and memorabilia of such political luminaries as Newt Gingrich, Rep. Bob Barr, and former Georgia Speaker Tom Murphy. Most interviews are open and available for the use of students, historians, scholars, and the public.
Collection URL: http://www.westga.edu/special/index_6968.php
Digital Status: Partial
Existing IDs: POL-0003
Related Archival Items: Bob Barr; David Boyd; Audrey Bray; Jeff Breedlove; Mac Collins; James F. Cook; Nathan Dean; J. Ebb Duncan; Ted Fitz-Simons (MS-0002); Wayne Garner; Georgia Silver Haired Legislature; Newt Gingrich (POL-0001); Bill Hamrick; Lester Maddox; Thomas Murphy (POL-0002); John Simpson; Tracy Stallings; Mel Steely; Pat Swindall; Charles A. Thompson; Marguerite Williams
Interviewees: Andrew Young, Hosea Williams, Garland Byrd, Jack Flynt, David Gambrell, Carl Gillis, Ben Jones, Phil Landrum, Lester Maddox, Richard Ray, Pat Swindall, Fletcher Thompson, Charles Weltner
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
African American politicians--Georgia
Civil rights movements--Georgia
Georgia--Politics and government