Six sites with histories of political and cultural battles help to tell the story of tourism in modern Georgia in a new exhibit at the Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. The exhibit will open Sept. 18 at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.
The sites featured in Seeing Georgia: Changing Visions of Tourism and the Modern South represent pivotal perspectives—Jekyll Island and southwest Georgia’s Red Hills region illustrate issues of class and race; Helen and Stone Mountain, notions of reinvention; and the Okefenokee Swamp and Talullah Falls, battles over natural resources.
“We are showcasing sites relevant to the bigger tourism story addressing concepts of identity, commerce and advertising that shaped the Georgia tourism industry as a whole,” said Jill Severn, head of access and outreach for the Russell Library.
State officials established the Tourism Division, part of the Department of Industry and Trade, in 1959.
Today, tourism continues to have a huge economic impact in the state. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development website, tourism is the fifth largest employer in the state with a total economic impact of $57.1 billion, supporting more than 411,000 jobs, or 10.2 percent of all payroll employment in Georgia.
In addition to items from the library’s collections, the exhibit will feature photographs, postcards, artifacts and other ephemera drawn from outside institutions and private individuals. Items from a collector in Rayle will add to a re-created roadside stand inside the gallery space.
The library recently received the collection of Bill Hardman Sr., the first director of the Tourism Division.
Located at 300 S. Hull St., the library is open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 1-5 p.m. except for home football game weekends.