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Georgia's Political Heritage Program records

 Collection
Identifier: POL-0003

Scope and Contents note

This collection contains video and audiotaped interviews, transcripts, correspondence, research files, and other materials pertaining to the Georgia's Political Hertiage Program.

Audio and motion picture oral history interviews with prominent current and former Georgia political figures representing political history since World War II which were conducted as part of the Georgia's Political Heritage Program (GPHP). The GPHP was founded in 1984 by Dr. Mel Steely, Professor Emeritus of the UWG History Department, to capture the memory of Georgia's political leaders as they relate their roles in the context of state and national politics. Interviewees discuss their involvement and activities within Georgia, regional, and national politics, touching on subjects from segregation and civil rights to the Vietnam War, as well as issues specific to Georgia.

The 2019 Additions series contains lists of the interviews and time stamp documents for many of the interviews conducted. Such interviews include Governors Ellis Arnall, George Busbee, and Lester Maddox; President Jimmy Carter; Senator David Gambrell; and Congressmen Howard Callaway and Jack Flynt, among others. There are also working documents for running GPHP, letters requesting future interviews with Georgia’s political leaders, Georgia Churchill Society and Carroll County Historical Society documents, and Mel Steely’s personal file of thank you notes.

Dates

  • 1984-2016

Conditions Governing Access note

Most unrestricted; inquire as to individual interview.

Conditions Governing Use note

Rights have been transferred to the University of West Georgia.

Biographical/Historical note

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. Upon 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 congressional representatives, 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.

Extent

26.29 Linear feet (53 boxes)

Language

English

Overview

Audio and motion picture oral history interviews with prominent current and former Georgia political figures representing political history since World War II which were conducted as part of the Georgia's Political Heritage Program (GPHP). The GPHP was founded in 1984 by Dr. Mel Steely, Professor Emeritus of the UWG History Department, to capture the memory of Georgia's political leaders as they relate their roles in the context of state and national politics. Interviewees discuss their involvement and activities within Georgia, regional, and national politics, touching on subjects from segregation and civil rights to the Vietnam War, as well as issues specific to Georgia.

Arrangement note

Organized into eight series: I. VHS tapes; II. Audiocassette tapes; III. Digital video recording (DVM); IV. DVDs; V. Transcripts; VI. Miscellanous; VII. CDs (Audio-Only); VIII. Electronic interviews.

Arranged alphabetically by interviewee last name.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Interviews conducted by Dr. Mel Steely, Ted Fitz-Simons, and Don Wagner with the assistance of UWG TV studio starting in 1984.

Related Archival Materials note

Related research files and other materials pertaining to the Georgia's Political Heritage Program (GPHP) can be found in the Mel Steely papers, POL-0016.

Separated Materials note

Master tapes for pre-2002 interviews are stored at the Waring Archaeology Lab.

Online Access to Materials

A selection of materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online at the Digital Library of Georgia. Additionally, the container list below indicates digitized materials with the note "View Online."

Processing Information note

Processed by Richard Primuth in February, 2009 and updated by Candice Larson in 2014 and 2016.
Title
Guide to the Georgia's Political Heritage Program records POL-0003
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Written by Richard Primuth and Candice Larson
Date
2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of West Georgia Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Special Collections, Ingram Library
University of West Georgia
1601 Maple Street
Carrollton GA 30118-2000 United States