Saturday, February 27, 2010

27 February 1915: "the Pleasure and Privilege of a Story Hour"

On this day in 1915, the top item in the Society column of the Athens Daily Herald was the start of a weekly story hour offered by the Athens Library Association. Noting that "all cities of any size" have had great success with child-focused programs, the column avers that "Athens deserves the best for her children, and the library association takes pleasure in helping secure it."

The new high school auditorium was made available for the program, scheduled regularly on Wednesdays from 4:00 - 5:00 PM. The hour featured music, songs, essays, as well as stories, and in the warmer weather, they planned for "out-door stories and play festivals."

Children's library services was a relatively new, but quite popular, concept in the United States during the early 20th century. The combination of wider literacy through mandetory public education and a strong movement to reform and nationalize child labor laws meant there was a population of Americans with leisure time to fill. Though many public libraries had banned children in the past, now reading for pleasure was seen as a constructive way for them to spend their free time. In areas with a large new immigrant population, children's services was also seen as a way to integrate new Americans into the culture.

According to the next week's column, 250 children (not counting the mothers) attended the story hour at the auditorium. Said Society columnist Mrs. C. S. Du Bose, "The crying need for such an institution for the children was signally evidenced by the number responding. And the first attendance augurs well for the future growth of the movement."

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Friday, February 26, 2010

African-American Research Interest Group Meeting

On this day, we would like to remind you that the Clarke-Oconee Genealogical Society's African-American Interest Group will meet in the Heritage Room on Saturday, February 27th, at 1pm.

Come enjoy this group as they explore African-American family history research experiences and methodology. Free and open to the public. No registration required.

For more information contact: Mae Castenell at

Hope to see you here!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

23 February 1904: Smallpox Scare Closes Athens Schools For A Week

On this day in 1904, the Athens Banner reported that the city's Board of Health decided to close schools for the rest of the week "merely as a precautionary measure" due to a few cases of smallpox reported in the schools. The Board hoped "it could be seen whether or not any spread comes from the presence of those children in the schools before they were quarantined." At the time, the city had only "three or four cases in the entire city, all of them under proper quarantine," and had fewer cases in the past several years than normal. The paper reported no deaths or serious illnesses during the week, and on Sunday ran a short notice that the schools would be open and children expected in the morning.

Though the Georgia General Assembly had banned smallpox vaccinations in 1768 to avoid spreading the disease to the unvaccinated, by the time the State Department of Health was established in 1875, one of its primary duties was supplying smallpox vaccines to the state. Within their first decade, they had furnished 180,850 vaccinations to the state, but many still went unvaccinated.

The U. S. Biologics Control Act of 1902 allowed for regulation of vaccines after a tetanus outbreak from contaminated vaccine spread around the country. However, regulation was slow to take hold, and pharmaceutical companies often sold discounted vaccines past their expiration date to state health departments. Many Americans waited as long as possible or avoided giving their children the vaccinations whenever possible, as a less deadly strain of smallpox was the predominant form in the United States by then.

The last case of smallpox in the United States was recorded in 1949, and by 1977, after a 10-year campaign by the World Health Organization, the disease had been eradicated globally.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

20 February 1892: Georgia and Auburn Play First Football Game

On this day in 1892, the University of Georgia met Auburn (then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama) in Piedmont Park in Atlanta for a "game of foot ball [sic]." Each school sent a delegation of fans and players in decorated train cars, had a pep rally with each side giving "their respective college yells in grand style," then paraded to the grand stand at the park.

As Georgia Tech did not yet have its own team, the Athens Weekly Banner reported that "the Technological school was out in force wearing the colors of the University and aiding the lung gang by vigorous use of cow bells." The score was tied 0-0 at the half, and the second half, marked by heavy rain, produced a final score of Auburn 10, Georgia 0.

Football was a new sport in the South, having finally become more recognizable as a distinct venture from its roots in soccer and rugby in the 1880s. Much of the excitement attached to Georgia and Auburn fielding teams had to do with the status of football as created by Walter Camp at Yale and embraced by the other Ivy League schools. The game was arranged by Georgia chemistry professor Charles H. Herty and Auburn history professor George Petrie, who had each organized teams at their respective schools using Walter Camp's guidelines. They had learned the game while both were graduate students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The February game was Auburn's first football game, and Georgia's second, the University having beat Mercer at Herty Field in Athens three weeks earlier by a score of 50-0. Between 2,000 - 3,000 people attended the game at Piedmont Park, with tickets 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. It was Atlanta's first experience with college football, and in the weeks leading up to the meeting, the city's papers explained the new sport to their readers as well as hyping the game by noting that "Atlanta is wild over the matter."

The game is now "the longest continuous football rivalry in the South." With only a few exceptions, primarily due to player death or world war, Georgia has played Auburn every year since 1894, typically in mid-to-late November. It wasn't until 1959 that the game moved to alternating home campuses. In the 1980s, Georgia was coached by former Auburn player Vince Dooley, and Auburn was coached by former Georgia All-American Pat Dye; both are members of the College Football Hall of Fame. It is also one of the closest rivalries in the South: Auburn currently leads the series 53-52-8, but Georgia has scored 56 more points over the decades.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

HeritageQuest: What You Can Find At Home

On this day, we hope you'll plan to come to the library's Auditorium Saturday at 2:00 PM for Heritage Room Librarian Laura Carter's presentation on HeritageQuest, a genealogy and history database available through GALILEO. The presentation is co-sponsored by the Clarke-Oconee Genealogical Society, and there will be an informal meet & greet in the Small Conference Room.

HeritageQuest has digitized images of U.S. Census, Revolutionary War, Freedman's Bank, and U.S. Serials documents; searchable, digital copies of books and family histories, and the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) with millions of citations from over 6,000 history and genealogy journals. It's a resource you don't want to skip in your research, and can be accessed for free from your home computer at any time.

For more information, call (706) 613-3650, ext. 350. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

16 February 1951: DairyPak Welcomed to Athens

On this day in 1951, the Athens Chamber of Commerce officially welcomed DairyPak Incorporated to Athens, Georgia. Executives of the company were the guests of honor at that night's annual dinner at the Athens Country Club, complete with "half-pint size milk carton place cards" on the tables and an original song by a local ensemble about "the wedding of Miss Athens, Georgia and Mr. DairyPak." The executives and their wives were also all presented with copies of William C. Davis' book Columns of Athens: Georgia's Classic City. Athens Mayor Jack R. Wells and chairman of the Commission Harry H. Elder also addressed the dinner.

As part of the Chamber's welcome to DairyPak, the Athens Banner-Herald ran over 40 ads by local businesses offering their individual welcomes to the newest member of the Athens business community. Larger companies, such as C & S National Bank and Belk's took out ads, as did smaller local firms such as Benson's Bakery and Hale Brothers Shoe Shop. Michael Brothers Department Store featured a half-page ad stating that "One of Athens' Oldest Welcomes Athens' Youngest;" Mathis Construction Company, which had the contract to build the facility, bought a full-page ad with an aerial shot of the new factory. Almost every ad featured a milk carton. The paper also ran several pages of stories covering the history of the company, the biographies of the executives, and photo essays that showed how DairyPak cartons were made and filled by dairies around the nation.

DairyPak chose Athens for their new milk carton production facility after surveying seven Southern states the previous summer. The company brought 300 local jobs to the area, not counting those employed to build the factory itself. It was the "first major 'outsider-owned' industry" to come to Clarke County. The paper reported that, once in full operation that spring, the factory would produce 1.5 million cartons per day. At the dinner, company president Clarke Marion noted that their policies "are based on the principle of men dealing fairly with men," and that they "appreciate the difference between profits and profiteering."

DairyPak, created by a merger between two Ohio paper companies at the time, has gone through several different owners in recent years, but continues to make cartons in Athens, Georgia, until this day. In 1999, as part of Blue Ridge Paper Products, to celebrate 1 million production hours without a time-loss accident, all the employees were given a steak dinner and an embroidered jacket. At the time, they manufactured cartons for all Minute Maid products for the United States and some for Canada. The company now employs under 200 hourly and salaried workers, and is part of New Zealand-based Evergreen Packaging.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Don't Miss Genealogy on the Internet!

On this day, we'd like to let you know there are still spaces available for Thursday morning's Genealogy on the Internet class, from 10am to 1pm, here at the library. The class is an introduction to the many and growing resources for researching your family history online, and includes handouts that provide descriptions of the various sites available and their offerings. Time to explore on your own and ask questions is provided in the last part of the session. These resources are not limited to Georgia, or even to the United States.

The class is free, but space is limited, so registration is required. Call us at (706) 613-3650, ext. 350 or email us at to reserve your space. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

11 February 1927: Carl Sandburg Speaks in Athens

On this day in 1927, poet and biographer Carl Sandburg spoke at the University of Georgia Chapel on "American Miscellany." In his talk, he discussed the nature of art, read from his poetry collections, told a few Rootabaga Tales, and discussed the Senate friendship between Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Stephens of Georgia. Coincidentally, February 11, 1927 was Stephens' 115th birthday.

Sandburg had recently published the first of his Lincoln biographies, the two-volume Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, and was working on his 1928 poetry collection Good Morning, America. Among the poems he read to the assembled were How Much?, Prayers of Steel, Shenandoah, Wilderness, Chicago Poet, and Night Stuff.

At the time, Sandburg was in the process of compiling and editing The American Songbag, and had brought along his guitar to play some folk songs and spirituals for his audience, including one about the boll weevil, which had devastated Georgia cotton production over the previous decade.

The next week, The Red & Black student newspaper cited Sandburg's talk at the school as evidence of "new life in the University." Noting that "on last Friday morning the Chapel was packed" and "for over an hour he held his audience." The paper urged fellow students to "show their appreciation of these things by continuing to attend the different programs and being quiet and courteous while the speaker...endeavors to explain his part in interpreting American thoughts and aims."

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Georgia Day Celebration

On this day, we hope you will plan to come to the Athens-Clarke Library Auditorium this Saturday at 2pm to learn about the events and personalities that helped shape Georgia's present-day boundaries, from the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 to the border dispute over water rights with Tennessee in 2008.

Author William J. Morton, M.D., J.D., will give the presentation, based on his book The Story of Georgia's Boundaries: A Meeting of History and Geography. The book will be available in the Library Store for purchase, and light refreshments will be served.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

7 February 1905: Football Coach Wally Butts Is Born

On this day in 1905, James Wallace Butts, Jr. was born in Milledgeville, Georgia. He was a descendant of Captain Samuel Butts, a Virginia merchant who settled in Jasper County, and later fought and died with the Georgia state militia in the War of 1812; in 1825, Butts County, Georgia was named for him.

Wally Butts was captain of the football, baseball, and basketball teams at Georgia Military College preparatory school in Milledgeville, despite being only 5'6" tall and weighing 155 pounds. He earned athletic scholarships to Mercer University, where he played football for Coach Bernie Moore, later Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. After graduation, Butts coached at the prep level for a decade, losing only 10 games in 10 years.

In 1938, he was hired as an assistant to new Georgia Bulldogs football coach Joel Hunt. During the South Carolina game in Columbia, Butts sat in the stands to look for Gamecock "weakness and strategy," and would send runners down to the sidelines with notes for the coaching staff. Georgia won 13-7.

Coach Hunt spent only a year at UGA, and Coach Butts was hired to replace him. He was 34 years old, with "the face of a cherub and the spirit of a hungry lion." For the next 21 years, he was the face of Georgia Bulldogs football, compiling a 140-86-9 record. He was known for his fiery temperament on the sidelines and during practice. Georgia's first Heisman Trophy winner, Frank Sinkwich, quit the team twice due to conflicts with Coach Butts, but in the end said that the coach "knew how to make a man out of a young punk."

Coach Butts took the Bulldogs to six bowl games, won four SEC titles, and two national championships, including a shared title in his 1946 undefeated season. In 1942, he coached the Bulldogs to a 9-0 win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl after a five-day, four-night train ride to Pasadena with no practice time and a Heisman Trophy winner with two sprained ankles. During the Second World War, he managed to have winning seasons with teams described as an "odd collection of brash young teenagers and 4Fs."

Butts served as Athletic Director through most of his coaching career at UGA, and insisted his home phone number be listed in the city directory, much to the dismay of his wife and daughters; all the phones in their house were red and black. Coach Butts also owned a diner called The Huddle on College Avenue where The Grill is located today.

Coach Butts was a longtime member of the College Football Rules Committee, served as President of the American Football Coaches Association, and was widely recognized as one of the great college coaches in the nation. For his biography, written at the end of his coaching career, the forward was penned by Ed Sullivan.

In 1960, Coach Butts retired from coaching and spent another three years as Athletic Director. In 1963, he moved to Atlanta to start the Wallace Butts Insurance Agency, which he moved to Athens several years later once the business was established. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1966. Coach Wally Butts died in 1973, and is buried at Oconee Hill Cemetery here in Athens.

On April 25, 1987, the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall opened on the University of Georgia campus, housing athletic offices, facilities, and Bulldogs sports museum that is open to the public. In 1997, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and in 1998 into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

4 February 1968: Pretty, Pretty, Pretty

On this day in 1968, the following ad for Bell's supermarkets ran in the "For and About Women" section of the Athens Daily News on page 16:

Pretty Inexpensive

Bell's believes in treating a lady like a lady. That's why we've made our stores pretty while we've kept our prices low. At our 5 points store we've even rolled out the red carpet. We think you pretty housewives will enjoy shopping more in Bell's pretty stores...where you save a pretty penny.

Bell's puts more in your pocket
Prince Plaze, 5 Points, & East Plaza

Sales that week at Bell's included 29 cents for a 1-pound box of Nabisco Saltines, 59 cents for a 10-pound bag of baking potatoes, 25 cents per pound for "local fresh whole fryers." Bell's typically had three to four pages of specials advertised in the Thursday food and recipe section of the paper, while other supermarkets in town only had one page each of ads. Only grocery sales at supermarkets were advertised in the newspaper. At least two dozen smaller, family-owned stores are also listed around Athens in the city directory in 1968.

Other sales that week were a "Sliced Bacon Sale!" at Kroger's locations on Prince Avenue and Beechwood shopping center. A&P's three locations (on Alps, Oconee, and Dougherty Streets) offered fully cooked boneless hams for $1.23 per pound. Colonial Stores (known as Big Star) in Alps Shopping Center clailmed "Red Carpet Values" that included bananas for 9 cents per pound, and 2-pound packages of Velveeta for 99 cents.

The ad image on the microfilm is in black and white, but includes a picture of a woman walking down a grocery aisle that appears to have a red carpet. Did you shop on a red carpet at Bell's in Five Points in 1968? Or experience "Red Carpet Values" at Big Star?

Learn More:

Athens Daily News. Jan. 13, 1968 - Mar. 15, 1968 on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
Athens Georgia Directory 1968 in the Heritage collection.
A Postcard History of Athens, Georgia by Gary L. Doster in the Heritage and general collections.
Strolls Around Athens by William Tate in the Heritage and general collections.
Stores page on

Monday, February 1, 2010

1 February 1901: Athens' Fine Health Record

On this day in 1901, the Athens Daily Banner published the following notice:

One thing that Athens is justly proud of is her magnificent health record. Much as been written and said about it but here is one of the strongest proofs which has ever been brought forward, viz, in one of the worst months of the year for deaths and fatalities from disease, there has not been a single interment in the Oconee cemetery.

This comes from the report of Mr. Bisson, the efficient sexton. The last interment was made there on December 29th when the burial of Mrs. M. J. Abney occurred.

This showing can hardly be equalled by any city of its size in the United States and she is justly proud of it.

While such accolades to the citizenry for surviving January might seem peculiar, for Athens, a focus on the city's "excellent health record" is a common theme in the newspapers, and is frequently featured in the city profiles found in front of city directories from the early 1900s.

In the 1904 directory, three of the first five paragraphs about Athens discuss how and why "youth and vigorous manhood and womanhood enjoy almost an immunity from death in this community." Such vital citizenry was attributed to the city's "magnificent water supply," "natural drainage advantages that very few cities can boast," and a "magnificent sewerage system that traverses more than thirteen miles of streets." In 1909, the city directory noted that of the sewer system in Athens "too high praise cannot be given."

Though the 1904 directory focuses on natural features as much as civic ones (average temperatures receive equal accolades to the education available), by 1909, the focus is industry, with whole paragraphs about various manufacturing companies in town. Clean water and sanitation are a basic fact of our modern life, but for Athens, in her first century, access to the Oconee and a decent sewer system was a quality of life draw for industry and point of civic pride.

Learn More:

Athens Daily Banner, Feb. 1900 - Dec. 1908 Supplemental on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
1904 Athens City Directory in the Heritage collection.
1909 Athens City Directory in the Heritage collection.
Oconee Hill Cemetery, Athens, Georgia, Vol. I by Charlotte Thomas Marshall in the Heritage and general collections.
Oconee Hill Cemetery Record of Interments in the Heritage room collection.
Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities web page.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene page for the World Health Organization.