Campus News

UGA oral history recording studio named for political historian

Athens, Ga. – The oral history recording studio in the University of Georgia special collections libraries will bear the name of political historian Bob Short. The UGA Cabinet approved the naming on April 26.

Short began his career in journalism. He later coordinated Jimmy Carter’s Georgia gubernatorial campaign in 1966, and then worked as press secretary for Carter’s opponent in that race, Gov. Lester Maddox, in 1967 and 1968. The Georgia Writers Association named Short an author of the year in 2000 for his 1999 biography Everything is Pickrick: The Life of Lester Maddox.

In 2006, Short began a lecture and discussion program, “Reflections on Georgia Politics,” at Young Harris College. The following year, a partnership with UGA’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies began producing the program as an oral history video series “to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late 20th century: desegregation and the civil rights movement, the impact of Baker v. Carr and Georgia’s evolution as a two-party state,” said Craig Breaden, head of media and oral history at the Russell Library. “Former governors, constitutional officers, congressmen and senators, state legislators, political organizers and journalists have strengthened the broad net cast by ‘Reflections on Georgia Politics.’ “

” ‘Reflections on Georgia Politics’ represents a tremendous historical resource,” said Sheryl Vogt, head of the Russell Library. “The Russell Library serves as the repository for the series, making decades of political history, strategy and stories of back-room-politics accessible to the public.”

The political library is one of three special collections housed in the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, which opened earlier this year. Its gallery space includes the oral history recording studio named for Short.

“I want to recognize Bob’s work. The sheer work,” Breaden said, noting that Short has contributed to 143 interviews accounting for 250 hours. “The preparation time, the research, the toil Bob puts into these interviews almost can’t be quantified. The number of hours doesn’t really sum it up. A lifetime would be more accurate.”

Speaking to a room of politicians, policy makers, journalists and family gathered to celebrate Short’s 80th birthday on April 17, Breaden paid tribute, not only to Short’s familiarity with modern Georgia history and the people who made it, but his commitment to preserve personal perspectives for future generations.

“That he chose to give us the gift of his knowledge and time is extraordinary,” he said. “Bob is a natural storyteller, and he gets that without the ‘story,’ history isn’t much more than a set of dates and so-called facts. His regard for the story is truly transcendent-it comes first in the work he has done on ‘Reflections,’ and for someone so immersed in politics, it never ceases to amaze me how unpoliticized Bob is.

“He has a realistic expectation of what politics can do because I think he understands better than most of us the humanity of the politicians and public servants he has known and who service our communities,” Breaden also said. “And also, I think, because he has an expansive sense of humor.”

To view the interviews from “Reflections on Georgia Politics,” see