Campus News Society & Culture

Georgia Virtual History Project explores Sapelo’s diverse histories

Sapelo Island Christopher Lawton 2014-h.env
Georgia Virtual History Project director Christopher Lawton takes a look at the ruins of Chocolate Plantation on Sapelo Island.

Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Virtual History Project and the University of Georgia Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts will present Seen/Unseen: Sapelo, a public reception featuring a preview of the GVHP’s multimedia project on McIntosh County, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Ciné, 234 W. Hancock Ave.

Nestled between the tourism juggernauts of Savannah and the Golden Isles, McIntosh County is a remarkable yet under-investigated location in terms of its rich history. The GVHP and the Willson Center, working closely with community partners on Sapelo Island, at Harris Neck peninsula and in Darien, “aim to build that history into something that not only reveals the depth of what is local, but also makes clear how the local there is truly the story of Georgia,” said GVHP director Christopher Lawton, an instructor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences history department and a Willson Center digital humanities fellow.

“There is perhaps nowhere else in the state where environment and agriculture, bondage and freedom, race and politics, struggle and aspiration all lie so close to the surface,” Lawton said. “After nearly 4,000 years of human habitation, Sapelo is our harshest past and our most promising future. With this preview of our work there-through electronic and in-person presentations-we aim to tell a small part of that story.”

The GVHP is an effort to use new and interactive technologies to record the history of Georgia and make it available to multiple audiences. The project will have a permanent website and a dedicated mobile app that will allow participants to access mini-documentaries, historical resources and tourism-related information using image-recognition software at multiple locations across the state. It is aligned with the eHistory initiative of the UGA Digital Humanities Lab, a Willson Center Faculty Research Cluster.

Seen/Unseen: Sapelo is made possible by the support of the Willson Center, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the McIntosh County Historical Society.

The event is associated with Thinc. at UGA, an initiative of the Office of the Vice President for Research that promotes entrepreneurship and fosters economic development in the region by providing inspiration and advice to those contemplating a plunge into the competitive and exciting world of entrepreneurship.

Willson Center for Humanities and Arts
The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts is a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research at UGA. In the service of its mission to promote research and creativity in the humanities and arts, the Willson Center sponsors and participates in numerous public events on and off the UGA campus throughout the academic year. It supports faculty through research grants, lectures, symposia, publications, visiting scholars, visiting artists, collaborative instruction, public conferences, exhibitions and performances. For more information, see