Browse Exhibits (22 total)

Effects of World War I on Agriculture

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Arbella B. Smith was born in North Georgia in 1880 and lived there all her life. She lived on a farm with her husband and four children. Arbella filled the gender roles during this time; she cooked, cleaned, and raised her children. Arbella lived through both the First and Second World Wars, which greatly affected farmers in the United States. During this time, Europe was being torn apart and the Allies relied heavily on the United States to supply them with food. Because of this, Arbella's husband, Elias C. Smith, was very busy during the First World War and was able to use the free labor of his sons to work on the farm. Due to the high demand for crops during WWI, farmers like the Smiths prospered across the United States. Not only were farmers affected by the First World War, but so was the average US citizen. US citizens were encouraged to conserve food and grow their own gardens, known as victory gardens, in order to help the US troops in Europe. Although farmers were very profitable during the First World War, the end of the War left farmers and agriculture distraught due to the steep drop in demand. This led to strikes and government intervention to alleviate the anxieties surrounding the low demand for crops. World War I changed agriculture in the United States forever and left a legacy filled with prosperity, patriotism, and anxieties.

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The Invisible Working Class: A Look into Early 1900s Insane Asylums

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The Forsyth County News published on September 11, 1974 "History of the Farrell Family," telling a brief history of the lives of Fanny and Susie Harrell. Fanny Harrell was a well-educated and independent woman in North Georgia who oversaw her family’s farm. Her younger sister, Susie Harrell, was similarly knowledgeable as she received an A.B. from LaGrange Female College. Susie Harrell pursued a career in teaching; however, her occupation was cut short. As recorded in the "Susie Harrell Lunacy Record," Susie was officially deemed “violently insane” in 1917 by a jury of men, and she was placed into Milledgeville State Hospital for the majority of her later years, dying in 1969.

Susie Harrell experienced the American insane asylum firsthand, and while her experience inside the Milledgeville State Hospital is undocumented, thousands of others were being admitted into these overcrowded and dismal sanitariums. Throughout the early-1900s, America saw the rise and failures of the insane asylum as these institutions shifted focus from curing the mentally ill to using these individuals as tools for free labor. There are quite a few stories, similar to Susie’s, of once-stable women being deemed insane, doomed to spend the rest of their life in an asylum; such was the case for both Elizabeth Griffitts. America’s insane asylums of the early-1900s can be primarily remembered for overcrowding, forced labor, and the unfair treatment of unconventional women.

Fashion in the Early 1900's

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At the start of the 19th-century Advertising gave the fashion world a whole new domain The culture change shifted and the consumption was one of color and new fabric something people of society had never experienced before It serviced new goals and comfort as desirable needs were met, with competition, monopolies, and cooperation, gave more time and space from work and leisure time. The idea came from many different forms of opportunities over the centuries and from the creative culture that arose from early consumer capitalism. It has come to the attention of many that over time that culture, themes, and society worked to provide consumer institutions that have tended to female labor and have established a firm basis around class distinctions among women.

Leach, William R. “Transformations in a Culture of Consumption: Women and Department Stores, 1890-1925.” The Journal of American History 71, no. 2 (1984): 319–42. https://doi.org/10.2307/1901758.

Industry and Steel in Early North Georgia

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Welcome! This exhibit started off with the case study of a man by the name of John J. Mashburn. The little details that were found about his life were expanded to find out what life was like in the past. This exhibit focuses on the time between the years 1876 and 1963. It is a focus on steel work and industry in Georgia. It is also expanded based on what evidence was found. Some sections address the South in General. Enjoy!  

The Mechanization of Farming: A Timeline

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Agriculture has been one of the major pillars of American society for decades and like most things it has gone through copious amounts of change and transformation. Things like urbanization, industry, and war, all served as major catalysts for these frequent changes within the agriculture sector. An era that encompassed all three of these stimulants occurred during the years 1910-1940. This thirty year span represents one of the most active periods of agricultural revolution seen in American history.

This period is credited with such a legacy because it was here farming methods and tools began to become mechanized. Mechanization began when previous human or animal labor was replaced with mecheniary, but it truly ignited when these new machines became gasoline and oil powered. Every sector of agriculture benefited from these new gasoline engines, they were not only a more efficient means of production but they were cheaper as well. 

The transition from human or animal power to gasoline power did not happen overnight nor out of the blue. Many evolutions and subsequent adaptations occurring over several years facilitated this famous era of revolution.

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Cultural Memories of the Doughboy

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Ernest D. Banister was born in rural northern Georgia in 1893. His parents raised him on a farm in Georgia, and he likely would have started working on the farm at a young age. Not much is known about his adult life, though he likely worked on a farm with his family. When the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson implemented a draft to expand the army. Ernest was twenty five when Wilson signed the draft into law, so he was required to register. He was called to service on April 2nd, 1918 and was sent to Camp Gordon near Atlanta, Georgia. After training, Ernest was assigned to the 327th Infantry Regiment and shipped to France. On July 20th, 1918, just three months after being drafted, Ernest D. Banister was killed while on guard duty. His body was transported back to Georgia, and he was buried at the Concord Baptist Church. Ernest’s headstone bears an engraving of the American flag, likely to honor his service, and an inscription that reads “Ernest we miss you.” His story is similar to many of the men that served in World War I. The aim of this exhibit is to outline the ways in which American citizens honored those that served, explore how service was perceived, and explain the ‘doughboy’ cultural phenomenon.

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The Agricultural Working Class: The Gilded Age and Progressive Era

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A curation focusing on the struggles of the agricultural working class and how they developed overtime leading into the Great Depression and FDR's New Deal.

Capitalism in the Early 1900's

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Methodism in Georgia

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Methodism in Georgia started in 1735 with the arrival of the founders John Wesly and Charles Wesley. The seed of Georgia Methodism started with teachings of emphasis on revival and grace. The domination gained popularity in Georgia society through the rural and lower-class communities. Since rural citizens were the majority of the population. Methodism both influenced and was affected by societal norms. This relationship can be studied from the end of the civil war and into the twentieth century. Through the actions of both white and black genders during the time. 

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Political Corruption in the South

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For my project, I was assigned Roy P. Otwell Sr. Upon my first wave of research, he was a pretty unimpressionable dude. Otwell achieved notoriety in Forsyth County for being a businessman and a politician. He had humble beginnings, born in 1894 and fortunately for him his father already ran a small business. Otwell’s first job was as a janitor at a bank, where it is said he learned the business acumen needed to leverage himself to his future status. Otwell became known around Cumming for owning an auto business and eventually a funeral home he purchased from family-friends. Roy was indeed a good businessman and his most prominent position came as a result- mayor. Otwell was the mayor of Forsyth for 30 years. That’s an impressive amount of time, so he must’ve been a rock-solid politican. This is where I started to develop my theme for the ensuing project. Roy Otwell does indeed look like an admirable man in the history books. Businessman, mayor, husband, father, churchgoer, white, Democrat, man you name it- Roy was a part of every stereotype enshrined by Southerners. Looking more into Otwell, he’s a bit gilded himself. Roy was reported to be a shady, ruthless businessman, Family and friends gave accounts of his harshness, even towards them. Otwell once kicked his brother out (who was living in the top floor of his funeral home) because he couldn’t pay the bills. Otwell was said to involve himself in the church solely for public appearance. This was, of course, a critical part of being a good man in the South in the eyes of the public. Roy clearly put money before everything, so it was no surprise when I found reports of him as a corrupt politician. Shady businessman turned corrupt politician? Never heard that one before. What struck me is that Otwell is a regular guy- that was the entire point of our assignment. When we think of political corruption, we think of Wall Street and high-ranking folks in D.C.. But perhaps, political corruption exists on a local level as well? Turns out, it does! Roy Otwell is emblematic of the status quo of North Georgia during this time. Though he was mayor from the 30’s-50’s, for this narrative we’re examining the political landscape of the South in the early 1900’s and the effects taken lasting to the end of Otwell’s career.