Monday, March 29, 2010

29 March 1941: The First Peabody Awards Are Presented

On this day in 1941, the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady School of Journalism distributed the first George Foster Peabody Awards at a luncheon at the Commodore Hotel in New York City. There were five awards presented for work done in 1940:

  • CBS Radio for Public Service by a Network
  • Elmer Davis of CBS Radio for Best Reporting of the News
  • KFRU Radio of Columbia, Missouri, for Public Service by a Small Station
  • WGAR Radio of Cleveland, Ohio, for Public Service by a Medium Station
  • WLW Radio of Cincinnati, Ohio, for Public Service by a Large Station
There were also 15 Honorable Mentions, including one for WSB Radio of Atlanta, Georgia for "Distinguished Public Service Contributions." The practice of including Honorable Mentions ended in 1955. In 1948, when television became more prevalent in the culture, the first two awards for television were given to ABC for their Actor's Studio short-drama program, and to NBC for their Howdy Doody children's program.

The Peabody Awards were created when the Lambdin Kay, general manager of WSB, was asked in 1939 by the National Association of Broadcasters to create an award for broadcasting that was similar to the Pulitzer Awards for publications. Key contacted John E. Drewry, Dean of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia because he believed "the award would be more credible if it were academically sanctioned and independently administered." The award was named for George Foster Peabody, a businessman, education philanthropist, and University of Georgia Trustee who had died the previous year.

Unlike the Pulitzer Awards, Peabodys do not have set categories into which a nomination must fit, but seek more generally to recognize "excellence in quality" for any form of electronic media from anywhere in the world. This fluid definition, that does emphasize public service and education as well as entertainment, allows the Award Committee freedom to be as specific or general as they want with their awards, and has allowed the Peabodys to expand as media has evolved. The first cable award came in 1981 for the HBO-Ms. magazine documentary, She’s Nobody’s Baby: The History of American Women in the 20th Century. In 2006, web entities were named as joint winners when was named as one of those who helped create award-winning investigative journalism; in 2008, awards were given to the sites and, for their parodies of cable news,

The Committee also has the freedom to reward specific episodes or programs, as well as entire series, such as the 1972 award to ABC Television for their Afterschool Specials; to the company that creates a program, such as the 2006 award to Be Squared Productions, Inc. for Alton Brown's show on Food Network, Good Eats; to the network that airs and jointly owns the program, such as the Fox Network and Thirteen Productions for the X-Files in 1996; or to a specific episode or part of a program, such as the 1988 award for "Mr. Snow Goes to Washington" story on 60 Minutes, or the 2007 award for the Frontline episode "Cheney's Law."

While an individual might receive an award for their overall career contributions to broadcast media, such as sportscaster Jim McKay's award in 1988, another might win an award for work on a particular episode of a program, such as Rod Serling's award in 1956 for his script for Playhouse 90's production of "Requiem for a Heavyweight." Edward R. Murrow won a total of six Peabody Awards in his career, some for specific achievements, such as his 1948 award for Outstanding Reporting and Interpretation of the News, as well as a general career contribution award in 1953. Local and regional stations are often singled out for their reports and specials that serve their communities.

There are no set number of awards per year, though the total has never exceeded 36. There are approximately 1,000 entries evaluated each year, and a unanimous decision is required for an entry to receive an award. Winners are now announced at the end of March and the ceremony takes place in mid-May. This year's ceremony is May 17, 2010, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Diane Sawyer is the host, the first ever repeat host for the awards.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

26 March 1913: A Basely Deceptive Woodpecker

On this day in 1913, the Athens Banner ran the following story on the front page:

Woodpecker Basely Deceived Athens Lady at Her Front Door

Yesterday morning bright and early--early anyhow and fairly bright on the part of all parties concerned--a lady living in a pretty nice section of the city heard a rapid rapping at her door and hastened to throw aside her kitchen apron--she had no help that morning--and as hastily brushing back the rebellious little ringlets of hair which had strayed away from their moorings--she went to the door. There was nobody in sight.

She called to mind that it is not yet the first of April and went back to the rear of the house--to be called again by the same insistent, persistent, nervous, determined knocking at the front.

Again she went to the door--to be disappointed.

The program was rehearsed four times--before the good lady discovered by accident that her visitor was none other than a red-headed woodpecker--perched over the front porch, hammering on the weather boarding of the gable.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Forget About Heritage Room Newsletters!

On this day, we'd like to remind you about two newsletters from the Heritage Room that you can have delivered to your email Inbox.

Genealogy Events newsletter comes out at the end of each month. It includes events in the Athens area and from around Georgia related to historical research, events, people, and places; history- or genealogy-related exhibits and displays; as well as meeting information for area history and genealogy groups. It's a great way to get a head's up on what is being offered over the next few weeks so you don't miss anything you might enjoy.

We will also have a
Genealogy Tips newsletter that will be sent every few weeks with news of new resources, programs, or developments in the wider genealogy world. It's an easy way to keep up with your hobby without reading dozens of blogs and websites, or catch items you might have otherwise missed.

Simply follow the links above (or
click here) to see the current newsletters and sign up today!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

20 March 1980: Mixed Response to Filmmakers on Virginia Avenue

On this day in 1980, the Athens Observer ran a story about the reaction of local residents during the filming of the ABC television series Breaking Away. The program was a prequel to the movie of the same name that had won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Direction, and Musical Score. The film was shot and set in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana.

Much of the filming for the television version was done on Virginia Avenue, where the show's producers had selected a house to use as part of their set. Local reaction ranged from "it's just exciting having all those movie stars right next to you" to "they had the streets blocked...but I wasn't in a hurry" to "I don't feel like anybody has the right to come to my house at 7 or 7:30 in the morning banging on my door demanding I move my automobile." It was generally agreed that the crew "could have used a little more diplomacy."

The television version of Breaking Away lasted only one season, despite having two Emmy nominations. The show starred Shaun Cassidy, who did not appear in the film. Only three actors from the movie were in the television show.

Athens has long been a biking town. Athenian Fred Birchmore was the first person to circle the world on a bicycle in 1935. Tourist guides and planning department proposals for bike routes going back to the mid-1970s. Spring, 1980, marked the first Athens Twilight Criterium. In recent years, many streets were repainted with bike lanes (pdf), and BikeAthens has become a strong advocate for alternative transportation options in the city, including a Safe Routes 2 School program to encourage children to walk or ride bikes to school rather than taking a bus or car.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

16 March 1930: Free Cooking School Offered By Athens Women's Club

On this day in 1930, the Athens Women's Club announced that they would offer a free four-day cooking school on the theme "Efficiency in the Kitchen." The course would cover how to select kitchen equipment, how to shop economically in hard times, and "the right food rightly prepared."

Each day, the class would be led by a different expert, starting with Miss Catherine Counsell from the Home Economics Department of the Georgia State Teacher's College, formerly the State Normal School, on Prince Avenue. Two of the other classes were led by members of the University of Georgia's College of Agriculture Extension Department faculty, covering "The Kitchen Beautiful" and "Health Day," with an emphasis on "Family Health and its place in the community." There would also be a day devoted to entertaining and how to organize large events, including examples of "tables set correctly for various occasions."

The meetings were held at the Y.W.C.A., then located on Hancock Avenue. Local businesses had donated "a great variety of the city's best food for demonstration and cooking. Merchants contributing this supply have added most materially to the success of the school and the selection is most adequate for menus...which will inspire all housewives."

The Athens Women's Club started out as a literary society, with club members offering talks about art, literature, nature, and current events. Over time, they became more involved in community service, at one point starting their own free kindergarten for the children of mill workers. Proper nutrition was considered part of public health, and therefore a community service.

In the early 1900s, University Extension Services were established to take innovations and methods developed at the state schools out to those who were outside the world of academia. This included agricultural knowledge, but also a strong focus nutrition and health for growing families, outreach work still provided by Extension Services to their local communities today.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

12 March 1888: Composer Hall Johnson Is Born in Athens

On this day in 1888, musician Francis Hall Johnson was born in Athens, Georgia. He grew up around music, through his father, Reverend William D. Johnson's church, and his grandmother's spirituals. Both he and his sister were taught the piano as children, and he began composing his own music and creating his own arrangements of the music he encountered in his daily life from an early age.

Johnson attended the Knox Institute on the corner of Pope and Hull Streets, opened as the Knox School in 1868 by the Freedman's Bureau to educate former slaves. By the time Johnson attended, it was part of the American Missionary Association (AMA) and taught vocational skills such as sewing, typesetting, and carpentry in addition to basic academic courses. He graduated at 14, and spent a year at Atlanta University (founded by the AMA) before transferring to Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, where his father had been named President. It was during this time Johnson taught himself to play the violin. He graduated from Allen in 1908.

Johnson then went to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Music, and later studied at the Julliard School in the early 1920s. In 1923, he was part of the Negro String Quintet, performing classical arrangements as well as current black composers. His classical training was made stronger by his fluency in German and French, and he recommended to his students that they learn the languages they were singing.

In 1925, he formed the Hall Johnson Choir, which performed his own arrangements of spirituals and other traditional black music "to show how the American Negro slaves...created, propagated and illuminated an art form which was, and still is, unique to the world of music." The choir was a huge success, not just for concerts, but also singing in Broadway productions and on movie soundtracks throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s.

Throughout the rest of his life, Johnson continued to compose and arrange, but also write about music. Of spirituals, he wrote in 1949, "True enough, this music was transmitted to us through humble channels, but its source is that of great art everywhere--the unquenchable, divinely human longing for a perfect realization of life."

Johnson died in an apartment fire in New York City in 1970.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Get Started with Genealogy!

On this day, we'd like to remind you that our Getting Started with Genealogy class now requires registration. Simply call (706) 613-3650, ext. 350, or email us at to sign up for this free class to be held next week, on Thursday, March 18th, from 2-4:30pm.

The informal session gives you the basics for how to research your family tree, no matter where the roots and branches might lead, including which resources are available here in Athens. Our Heritage Room Librarian is happy to answer your questions during the presentation, and will provide handouts for you to take home.

Please bring something to write with and a sweater (the room can be a bit chilly). For ages 12 and up. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

7 March 1857: Howell Cobb Appointed Secretary of the Treasury

On this day in 1857, Athenian Howell Cobb joined the Cabinet of newly inaugurated President James Buchanan, by accepting the position of Secretary of the Treasury. He had recently been re-elected to his 6th District seat in the House of Representatives, but had also campaigned strongly for Buchanan in other parts of the nation. The Southern Banner reprinted a glowing editorial from the Pennsylvanian, extolling Cobb for his campaign efforts in Buchanan's home state, noting that Cobb "rises by the wisdom and sagacity which distinguish his remarks, above the wordy din of ordinary Congressional speakers" and that he "possesses a firm and powerful hold on the affections of the people of (Pennsylvania)."

The Southern Watchman was less keen on Cobb's appointment to the Buchanan Administration. Still bothered by his work to pass the Compromise of 1850 when he was Speaker of the House, the Watchman stated that the "The Southern Rights wing of the Democratic party can never admire Mr. Cobb as a politician so long as they remember his declaration that the compromise was 'fair, liberal and just,'" and predicted his new position would be "a blighting influence on the prospects of Mr. Cobb."

During his first year as Treasury Secretary, Cobb faced the Panic of 1857, considered "the first worldwide economic crisis." Though the panic itself was brief, and fueled, in part, by the new technology of the telegraph, the recession that followed caused a severe drop in U. S. government income. Cobb wanted an increase in tariffs to fill the gap, but Congress did not pass the increase until 1860. Northern industries were harder hit than the South, since the cotton market had remained fairly stable through the panic, but the ripple effect was felt throughout the world.

Cobb would resign his post in December, 1860, a month after the election of Abraham Lincoln, a result he knew his home state of Georgia would not accept. However, before leaving Washington D.C., he insisted on fulfilling his duty to submit the Treasury Department's annual report to Congress.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

5 March 1901: Athens Foundry and Machine Works "Now Running At Full Blast"

On this day in 1901, the Athens Daily Banner announced that the Athens Foundry and Machine Works was now under new ownership and management, and had started again taking orders and had started to produce items for area businesses.

The Foundry had been first incorporated in 1850 as Athens Steam Company, and produced wood items such as doors, blinds, and sashes; cast iron and brass fittings; and other machinery such as steam engines, boilers, and iron fencing. The business was a success, but not insured, so when the factory burned down in 1853, investors lost everything.

When it reopened in 1854, the Foundry also started making iron fences, verandas, and balconies. In the late 1850s, they created iron fencing and the Arch for the University of Georgia. The Arch originally had gates, but they were removed some decades later. The company also created items for local businesses, such as circular saw mills and pumps, and advertised the advantage of buying locally rather than from northern producers.

During the Civil War, the Foundry produced many items no longer available from other sources, such as threshers, broilers, looms, and sugar mills for the Athens Manufacturing Company, the Athens and Princeton Factories, and the Athens Iron Manufacturing Company. Though they often had to advertise for coal and draft-ineligible laborers, even offering to pay food to those who worked for them, "no other business in Athens could supply so many different items or ones so good."

In 1863, the Athens Steam Company changed its name to the Athens Foundry and Machine Works. Among its most famous creations during this time was the famous double-barreled cannon. The plan was to connect two cannon balls with an eight-food chain that, when fired, would act as a sycthe through an enemy line. However, testing showed that it did not work as intended, as it was impossible to fire both barrels simultaneously, and therefore could not be aimed with any accuracy. It now sits on the lawn of the Athens-Clarke County City Hall.

Today, the site of the Foundry buildings is home to the hotel Foundry Park Inn & Spa.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

3 March 1918: "Such Foodstuffs As Food Law Permits" during WWI

On this day in 1918, the Athens Banner published a list of acceptable wheat flour substitutes "in order that there not be any misunderstanding in the part of the merchants and buyers."

The list ranged from such recognizable items as bran, corn meal, hominy, rolled oats, buckwheat flour, and oatmeal to cotton seed flour, feterita meal, kaffir flour, milo, cassava flour, and banana flour. Rye and graham flour could not be substituted for wheat flour purchases.

When the United States entered WWI in 1917, Europe had already been at war for three years and was desperate for food. Work by agencies such as the Committee for Relief in Belgium, organized and headed by Herbert Hoover, had been feeding civilians in Allied nations for years, but now the U. S. needed well-fed, strong armies as well. President Woodrow Wilson created the U. S. Food Administration, and asked Hoover to run the temporary department.

Hoover accepted no salary for his work, and set about creating a public relations campaign that made conserving food, especially meat and wheat, and growing one's own food, patriotic duty of all Americans. Slogans such as "Food is Ammunition--Don't Waste It!" and "American Wheat to Win!" were taken to heart. Commercially produced breads could not contain more than 50% wheat, and limitations were made on wheat flour to citizens, who were encouraged to sign a pledge to conserve food, and to substitute foods, such as corn in place of flour, whenever possible. By September, 1918, commercially produced breads and mixes could be 80% wheat.

Georgia State College of Agriculture President Andrew Soule was the federal food administrator for Georgia and chairman of food administration for five southeastern states. He was frustrated by the lack of nutritionists available to work with the public during this time, and took this opportunity to push for the University of Georgia to start allowing female undergraduate students. Nutritionist was an acceptable job for women, and along with working with the extension services, Soule made the case that allowing women to be educated for these much-needed professions was "another form of conservation." By September, 1918, Soule had set up a Department of Home Economics and the University was now officially a co-educational institution.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Heritage Room Newsletters Delivered Right to You

On this day, we'd like to remind you about two newsletters from the Heritage Room that you can have delivered to your email Inbox.

Our Genealogy Events newsletter comes out at the end of each month. It includes events in the Athens area and from around Georgia related to historical research, events, people, and places; history- or genealogy-related exhibits and displays; as well as meeting information for area history and genealogy groups. It's a great way to get a head's up on what is being offered over the next few weeks so you don't miss anything you might enjoy.

We will also have a Genealogy Tips newsletter that will be sent every few weeks with news of new resources, programs, or developments in the wider genealogy world. It's an easy way to keep up with your hobby without reading dozens of blogs and websites, or catch items you might have otherwise missed.

Simply follow the links above (or click here) to see a preview of the newsletters and sign up today!