Google+ Georgia On My Mind: June 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless: Atlanta Airport

It's been many weeks since I participated in Wordless Wednesday.  This picture of the Atlanta airport as I remember it when I was a little girl prompted me to participate.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Changing Pictures

In 1900, W.E.B. Du Bois - then a professor of sociology at Atlanta University - now known as Clark Atlanta University - compiled a series of 363 photographs in two albums titled Types of American Negroes and Negro Life in Georgia, USA which he put on display at the Paris Exhibition.

The exhibit also contained items including charts, maps, and graphs recording the growth of population, economic power and literacy among African Americans in Georgia - the Black middle class that existed some thirty-five years after slavery was outlawed via the 13th Amendment.

Today the Library of Congress site that houses the collection advises:

[Du Bois was] committed to combating racism with empirical evidence of the economic, social and cultural conditions of African Americans. He believed that a clear revelation of the facts of African American life and culture would challenge the claims of biological race scientists influential at the time, which proposed that African American men and women challenged the scientific "evidence" and popular racist caricatures of the day that ridiculed and sought to diminish African American social and economic success. Further, the wide range of hair styles and skin tones represented in the photographs demonstrated that the so-called  "Negro type" was in fact a diverse group of distinct individuals. The one public statement Du Bois made concerning these photographs was that visitors to the American Negro exhibit would find "several volumes of photographs of typical Negro faces, which hardly square with conventional American ideas."

The sad thing is over one hundred years later very few students of history in our schools see these images. Instead they are bombarded with the same images of sharecroppers picking cotton in fields or sitting in the doorways of former slave cabins. While these people and their dismal situations did exist it wasn't the only "picture" of life for Blacks in the American South at the turn-of-the-century.

I'll be posting an album including several of the images at my Facebook page, but here are a few of the Georgia images.

This first image is David Tobias Howard who had his own carriage and driver. He's seated in the back with his wife and mother. Howard was a funeral director, and a high school in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward is named for him.

The picture below is the home of Bishop Gaines of the AME Church in Atlanta.

The man behind the desk in the picture below is IRS Collector Henry A. Rucker....and an African American.

....and here are a couple of more:

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Tuttle

Think about this for a minute...

What would happen if a rock formation in the shape of an eagle was discovered on a construction site?

Construction would stop, all sorts of experts would be called, groups would protest, the rock  formation would receive its own Facebook page and most certainly mention of it would be found in the newspaper, right?

Apparently, finding a rock formation resembling an eagle during construction of a Federal courthouse and post office in 1907 wasn't a big enough deal to make the papers because I can't find one mention of it...anywhere.

Insert a heavy sigh here.

Atlanta has "The TED" referencing Turner Stadium, but we also have "The Tuttle".

Yes, "The Tuttle"...found at 56 Forsyth Street.

I'm referring to the building above that houses the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals renamed in 1981 to honor Elbert Parr Tuttle, an Atlanta  judge known for the large amount of pro bono civil rights work he handled during his legal career. Tuttle was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 for his Civil Rights work.
The building itself has been the location of several important cases through recent years including the Elian Gonzales case and at least two of the decisions regarding Bush v. Gore were decided within the walls of the Tuttle building.
Also known as the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse from years past, the five-story building is huge. It occupies the block bordered by Forsyth, Fairlie, Poplar, and Walton Streets.
In 1907, Atlanta had grown to such proportions a new federal courthouse and post office was needed. Congress appropriated the money and on July 23, 1907 folks in Atlanta viewed this drawing of their million dollar plus courthouse on the front page of The Atlanta Constitution.

Architecturally, the building follows the Second Renaissance Revival style. Some windows contain carved serpent-and-staff designs associated with Mercury, the Roman messenger god - an early symbol used by the postal service.

A mural decorates the lobby portraying an allegorical Justice flanked by Industry and Agriculture.

The carved oak panels throughout the building are decorated with garlands, scrolled brackets and molding.

....and of course the courtrooms are magnificent with detail. Unfortunately,I don't think someone will be writing about many of the courtrooms of today one hundred years from now. They just don't capture the attention as buildings such as "The Tuttle".

James Knox Taylor, the supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury designed the building with ground being broken in 1906. As I read about the building the most amazing thing I found was a natural rock formation resembling an American Bald Eagle was discovered as the building's foundation was dug. Apparently, folks involved decided since it was a symbol of our country, it was a sign that the proper site had been chosen for a Federal building.

I've scoured the papers during the years of construction - 1906 to 1910 - and can't find a mention of the discovery.

Was this just some natural fluke in the topography of the site?

Was this evidence of Native Americans in the area?

Should it have been preserved?

Seriously....Why can't I find any further mention of the formation?

Sometimes, I can't find the answers I'm searching for, and it's very frustrating.

Pictures courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Stereoscopes: A View Back in Time

I regularly visit our local history museum in Douglasville for obvious reasons since I research and write about local history for our local news outlets and my Douglas County history blog as well.

The volunteers had moved a few things around. There were even some new exhibits including this:

Do you know what it is?

Well, think of a Viewfinder if you grew up in the 1960s or 70s like I did, and you will be on the right track.

Yes!  You viewed pictures through the contraption, but not just any picture.

You viewed a picture card that looked like this:

Wisegeek tells us that a stereoscope is a viewing device which allows users to create a three-dimensional image from a set of two-dimensional photographs or drawings,

Wisegeek further advises the viewer would peer through a rudimentary binocular system, which forced each eye to see only one of the two images. By either crossing or diverging one's eyes, a third image would eventually appear in the middle, and this image would provide the illusion of depth for as long as the viewer maintained proper concentration and focus.

The stereoscope was invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838. He was a British physicist and was one of the inventors of the telegraph. Of course, in the earliest days the images were drawn by hand, but after photography entered the mix stereoscopes became very popular.

In 1851, Queen Victoria was able to view images through the stereoscope at the Crystal Palace Exhibition, and she was most certainly amused. Around 1860, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.....yes, THE statesman Oliver Wendell Holmes took the British version and streamlined the design making it more affordable.

He actually wrote an article about the stereoscope for The Atlantic in 1859.

Take a look again at the stereograph I posted above. Notice the colored border around the pictures? It isn't just there for looks. The border actually adds to the three-dimensional quality of the image.

The device entered mainstream America, and its popularity took off like a rocket. Soon it seemed that everyone had one.

Stereoscopes were educational. Folks in the South could see how folks in the West lived. You could see parts of the United States as well as the world that most people would never be able to reach. Rail transportation and industry became a popular theme as well as rural and city scenes.

There were even nude stereographs, too.

Over 300 million stereographs were issued between 1854 and 1920. Families could purchase some of the images six for a dollar. Cheaper stereographs went for three cents each or eighty-five cents for 100. They were found in drugstores, mail order catalogs, given away as premiums by tea and cereal companies and college students even went door to door to sell them. Carl Sandburg actually made a few dollars selling stereograms.

It wasn't long before the equipment made its way into America classrooms and photo sets were being marketed for schools. I'm fairly certain the nude ones were left off the school inventory lists.

Today, the stereograms or photographs are more collectable than the viewer. I've even thought of collecting some of my own, but want to decide on a topic or theme first.

In the meantime, I've found several stereograms online that depict life in Savannah, Atlanta, Augusta, and many other Georgia locations. I'll be posting them over the next several days on Facebook.

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