For Immediate Release
Date: November 5, 2014
A City of Savannah research project documenting the municipal use of enslaved people prior to the Civil War won top honors for archival work by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council last week.
Lacy E. Brooks won the Governor-appointed Advisory Council’s Award for Excellence in Student Research Using Historical Records – Graduate Level for the “Savannah Municipal Slavery Research Project.” Ms. Brooks completed her graduate internship with the City’s Research Library & Municipal Archives this past spring prior to graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Public History from Armstrong State University. Her internship included identifying, analyzing and digitizing archival records that document the City’s use of enslaved people to support municipal work prior to the Civil War.
The honor came during the Oct. 30 Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council annual awards program at the Georgia Archives in Morrow.
“The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council established the Outstanding Archives Awards Program in 2003 to recognize excellence in archival work in Georgia,” said Council Chairman Dr. Toby Graham. “By doing so, the Council strives to inspire others to action in the interest of preserving, using, and sharing the original record of Georgia’s and the nation’s history.”
Ms. Brooks’ work included a detailed paper providing her research methodology, as well as an online presentation that features historical records, images and documentation on the individuals the City bought and sold during slavery. These enslaved people, most supporting public works departments, have been a forgotten segment of the City’s workforce and Ms. Brooks’ work is an important contribution to the study of the City of Savannah’s history. The public can access the project report and online presentation through www.savannahga.gov/slavery.
Several other important Savannah projects were honored at the GHRAC Awards program. Leslie M. Harris and Daina R. Berry received the Award for Excellence in Documenting Georgia’s History for Slavery and Freedom In Savannah (UGA Press and Telfair Museums, 2014). Leslie Harris is associate professor of history at Emory University and Daina Ramey Berry is associate professor of history and African and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Their collaboration on this work has also received awards from the American Association for State and Local History and from the Southeastern Museums Conference. The complete, multi-year project, organized by Telfair Museums, included a museum exhibition, a 3-day city symposium, and multiple community partnerships to examine urban life across 300 years of Georgia history with a variety of perspectives on slavery, emancipation and black life in Savannah, from the city's founding into the early 20th century.
Dr. Glenn T. Eskew, professor of history at Georgia State University, received the Award for Excellence in Research Using the Holdings of an Archives for Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World (UGA Press, 2014). Dr. Eskew’s exhaustively researched biography is the most comprehensive to-date of Savannah's native son, providing a compelling chronological narrative which places Mercer within a larger framework of diaspora entertainers who spread a southern multiracial culture across the nation and around the world, in Mercer's case, drawing on the folk music of costal Georgia and the blues and jazz recordings made by both black and white musicians.
Tanya A. Bailey won the Award for Local History Advocacy for First American Grand Prix; The Savannah Auto Races, 1908-1911 (McFarland, 2014) and the Great Savannah Races Museum. Ms. Bailey, for 20 years a motorsports journalist, is the owner and curator of the Great Savannah Races Museum (411 Abercorn St.) and a member of the Horseless Carriage Foundation and the Society of Automotive Historians. Both the museum and her book are the result of ten years of painstaking and passionate research and collecting, which have resulted in biographies of 54 of the early racecar drivers and over 150 images, many being seen in print for the first time. Her narrative documents the network of personal relationships which forged the national and international context of grand prix racing crossing the Atlantic, linking Savannah to the French Grand Prix, the Vanderbilt Cup, and the Coppa Floriam, and automakers including Fiat, Renault, Benz, Mercedes, Buick, Itala, and Isotta-Franschini to the cutting-edge racecourse technology which was implemented in Savannah in the early 20th-century.