Society & Culture

UGA contributes to launch of Digital Public Library of America

Athens, Ga. – Georgia was well-represented when the Digital Public Library of America prototype launched at noon on April 18, an initial step toward making available to every American the collections of libraries, archives and museums across the country.

The groundbreaking project aims to be a central entrance to a national public library making local archives digital, searchable and freely accessible.

Launched last summer by Harvard University, the DPLA received a boost last year when the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation gave $1 million to create seven pilot sites with libraries in Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah to serve as regional hubs.

In Georgia, the Digital Library of Georgia serves as the regional hub. The DLG is an initiative of GALILEO, Georgia’s statewide virtual library, and is based at the University of Georgia Libraries.

“We are so pleased to contribute to this national effort and to make more of the record of Georgia’s history and culture available online,” said Toby Graham, UGA’s deputy university librarian and director of the Digital Library of Georgia.

Content from more than 60 Georgia repositories became available through the Digital Public Library of America.

Additional content will be added. Georgia libraries, museums, historical societies, archives and other cultural heritage repositories were invited last fall to submit applications for up to five collections each to be considered for digitization and subsequent inclusion both the Digital Library of Georgia and the Digital Public Library of America.

“The launch of the Digital Public Library of America is particularly significant for communities-it provides them with the technology and resources to see their local history preserved and use it to build a fresh perspective that will eventually shape their futures,” said Jorge Martinez, vice president and chief technology officer at the Knight Foundation. “It is also an opportunity to spur greater community engagement and make a body of rich local heritage accessible to the entire world.”

Among the Georgia selections to be included in the DPLA are:

• A 26-second film of a game played by African-American employees at Pebble Hill Plantation, circa 1919, which may be the earliest moving images of baseball filmed in Georgia, from the UGA Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection.

• The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photograph Collection, more than 5 million images from the newspaper’s photo morgue. Most of these images come from the 1950s to 1980s, but the collection also includes images that appeared in the Atlanta Journal, the Atlanta Constitution and many of the smaller newspapers they absorbed over the years, held at Georgia State University Library.

• The Atlanta History Center’s photographs of Gay Bolling Shepperson (1887-1977), the administrator of three successive federal relief projects in Georgia: the Civil Works Administration, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Works Progress Administration. Shepperson was the only female to serve as a state administrator for the WPA and the photographs document the public works.

• The records of Macon’s Douglass Theatre, including correspondence from Richard Norman, the white owner of an independent film company specializing in movies for African Americans, about pioneering African-American movie director Oscar Micheaux, from the Middle Georgia Archives.

• The first illustration of Georgia’s original city, “A View of Savanah (sic) as it Stood the 29th of March, 1734,” from the UGA Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Drawn to document progress being made in establishing the colony, the image shows Savannah’s original 24 squares.

• A WSB-TV newsfilm clip from July 1962, a five-and-one-half months pregnant Marion King speaks from her bed to a reporter after her beating at the hands of Camilla, Georgia police when she visited civil rights demonstrators at the jail.

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia has operated since 2000 as part of Georgia’s GALILEO virtual library. According to Graham, the DLG already includes more than 1 million digital files. “This project will allow us to add more content from around the state to the Digital Library of Georgia, which will serve as a pipeline into the Digital Public Library of America,” he said.

For more information on the DPLA, see