Sunday, August 28, 2011

28 August 1987: WUGA Brings Public Radio to Athens

On this day in 1987, after several delays, Athens gained her own public radio station, WUGA. The station began broadcasting at 6:00am with National Public Radio's Morning Edition. The Athens Observer urged people to listen to hear something "delightfully different."

The establishment of a public radio station in Athens took years of planning, and by the mid-1980s had become an issue of faculty recruitment for the University of Georgia. The Georgia Center of Education had always intended to have a radio station, and in the mid-1980s, grants for the purpose of addressing this need. The work in Athens coincided with the creation of Peach State Public Radio in 1985, now part of Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The station broadcast at 3,000 watts on 91.7 FM. It now broadcasts at 6,000 watts, and has a coverage area  that includes Elberton, Gainesville, Lawrenceville, Eatonton, Madison, Monroe, and Washington, Georgia. The added translator at 97.9 FM that broadcasts from the University of Georgia campus has a range of only about seven miles, and helps with reception in the western part of Athens where interference from Atlanta radio stations had been an occasional issue.

Since its creation, WUGA has consistently been honored for their local coverage of the Athens area. This spring, News Director Mary Kay Mitchell was awarded for "Best General Reporting" in the radio category by the Georgia Associated Press Association; the station won five other awards, as well: second place awards for "Best Series Reporting," "Best Use of Sound," and "Best Feature." 

WUGA now offers more local programming, such as African Perspectives, Just Off the Radar, Night Music, and Athens News Matters,  along with national programs from NPR and PRI, and international programming, such as BBC's The Changing World and World Service news. The station consistently wins "Best Radio Station" polls in the Athens area.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

26 August 1885: A Sheriff and His Frog.

On this day in 1885, the Daily Banner-Watchman provided this short feature about Clarke County Sheriff John Weir on their front page:

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

24 August 1921: "Precarious Quality" White Lightning

On this day in 1921, the Athens Banner ran this small story about a discovery on Clayton Street downtown:

Federal alcohol prohibition had been in effect since 1920, but in Georgia had been in effect since 1908. Even after the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was repealed in December, 1933, Georgia did not allow the sale of alcohol until 1935, with some counties choosing to remain "dry" even today. 

One of the possible additions to the "drink," paregoric, was a common household medication that included opium. By 1921, the ingredients of medicines had to be disclosed to consumers, but it was still available over-the-counter, primarily as a treatment for diarrhea. The drug was used into the 1970s, and is still available as a prescription. 

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

20 August 1862: Cook Brothers to Build Armory

On this day in 1862, the following bit of local business news was published in the Southern Watchman:

Ferdinand and Francis Cook were brothers who had a contract to produce 30,000 Enfield rifles "complete with sabre-bayonet, sheath and frog" for the Confederate military in 1862. However, they had to flee New Orleans when the city came under occupation by the United States military, and escaped with "most of their armory machinery and a schooner of iron and steel." 

Like many other refugees during the war, the Cooks came to Athens, seeking an out-of-the-way place in which to re-establish their business. They purchased 63 acres of land with access to water power, and began building their factory. The armory was estimated to be worth over $600,000.00 after just six months of operation. Their first inspection was in January, 1863, by General Benjamin Huger, and a follow-up visit in March, 1863, noted that their guns were "the finest I have seen of Southern manufacture."  

The armory made infantry rifles, artillery rifles, and muskatoons; horseshoes for the cavalry; bayonets; and non-military agricultural items such as sorgham mills. Though hopes had been high for the manufacture of 100 guns per day, the reality was that the war had caused a severe labor shortage, and over time, also brought about shortages in basic necessities such as food and clothing.  The armory suspended production in July, 1864, when the Confederate government fell behind on payments. They produced only about 4,000 weapons for the Confederate military. 

The workers at the armory formed the 23rd Battalion, Georgia,  Local Defense, also known as the Athens Battalion, the Enfield Rifle Battalion, or Captain Cook's Battalion. They were a separate force from the Athens Home Guard, Mitchell's Thunderbolts, though some residents were members of both, such as John Gilleland and Jack O'Farrell. They were called into action for the Battle of Griswoldville, Georgia, in November, 1864.

Ferdinand Cook was killed less than a month later during a battle in Hardeeville, South Carolina. Francis Cook tried to keep the armory running, but the war came to an end, and the armory campus was sold for $18,000.00 to Athens Manufacturing Company in 1870. It would later be known in Athens as "the Check Factory," and in 1897 would become the first factory in Georgia to run on electricity. It is now the location of the University of Georgia Physical Plant, Information Technology Outreach Services, Marine Extension Services, and Small Business Development Center.

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Footnote Is Now Called "Fold3"

On this day, we'd like to alert you to a change to the Footnote History and Genealogy Archives available to Athens Regional Library System cardholders via GALILEO. Their new name is Fold3, and when you first enter the site, you will receive this announcement of the change:

The name change is in honor of their new focus, which is primarily United States military records. As this is the vast majority of what they already hold, and why many use their site, the change is merely cosmetic for most history and family researchers who use this database. 

The site will not be eliminating their current non-military collections, such as city directories, U. S. Census documents, Native American records, and naturalization files. However, the site will not be adding new collections to these categories, as they move their focus to their military collections. Among the incomplete military collections that will benefit from the new focus are the War of 1812 Pension Files and several World War II collections.

When you visit the database now, the primary difference is the title of site and collections, as seen here:

Please let us know if you run into any problems, but so far, we've found the site is operating as normal. You can contact us at the Reference Desk by calling (706)613-3650, ext. 356, or emailing us at

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Heritage Room Resources Are Now Available!

On this day, we'd like you to know that
if pictures like this one make you sad:

Empty Heritage Room Shelves, August, 2011

Then pictures like this one will make you very happy indeed!

Georgia history now available in the Reference area, August, 2011

Despite the temporary reduction in space due to library construction, many of the Heritage Room resources used most by our patrons were able to be moved temporarily to the Reference area. 

We have already pleasantly surprised several researchers who were not only happy to find so much of the collection, but also have come to work during all hours the library is open, rather than our limited Heritage Room hours. Do you only have a couple of hours in the morning, or can't get here until after work? That's no longer a concern!

We've also moved the vast majority of our microfilm and microfiche collections, as well as the digital scanner/printer and a microfilm reader. Whether you want to use our microfilm, or have some from another library via Interlibrary Loan, you can now reserve time on the microfilm machines to ensure they are available when you want to do your research. Just call the Reference desk at (706) 613-3650, ext. 356 to make a reservation. (Reservations are not required, but reservations will take precedence over walk-in patrons while our space is limited to two machines.)

Among the Heritage Room resources now available to you in the Reference area of the library:
  • All Athens newspapers on Microfilm
  • Newspaper Abstract books
  • Athens-Clarke County Local History collection
  • Civil War Reference Sets, including Rosters and Pension Index
  • Clarke County Deeds & Mortgages (and their Indexes) on Microfilm
  • Athens City Directories (some gaps; some on Microfilm only)
  • Athens-Clarke County Yearbooks
  • General genealogy resources
  • Family name histories
  • Georgia City Directories on Microfilm
  • University of Georgia Pandoras, 1930-1993 (some gaps)
  • Passenger List and immigration resources
  • Clarke County Wills & Estate Records on Microfilm
  • Clarke County Marriage Records on Microfilm
  • Native American genealogy resources
  • Revolutionary War Indexes and Pension Files
  • General Civil War history
  • State and some County resources for New England, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and, of course, Georgia

Come by to see us! We think you'll be delighted!