selective history

The University of Georgia media collection features a handful of town films. The one about Athens, Georgia is the most complete in the sense of presenting the whole community, on the ground and from the air.

The description accompanying the offering on the web page is somewhat inaccurate:

Because of its business and housing content, we believe this 16mm color amateur film of scenes in and around Athens was made by Joel A. Weir who was, at that time, Executive Director of the Athens Housing Authority as well as Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce (1931-1949). This short clip (14 mins.) is excerpted from the full film (approx. 45 mins.) and is silent.

Brick-Athens1947-2cThe version on the web site is 37 minutes in length, while the offering on Youtube is just short of 3 minutes of speeded up footage of the white folks in town.

Why this text has not been updated to be consistent with the 37 minute version is a puzzlement.

The more striking aspects of the footage are the extreme differences shown between the houses along Milledge and Prince Avenues, and the African-American neighborhoods, as well as the then fairly new public housing and apartments along Broad Street. Rev. Charles Knox of Athens has identified these neighborhoods as “Tip Toe Alley” (between Finley and Newton Streets at Baxter St.) and “Linden Town” (Lumpkin near Baxter), both of which were razed for public housing and for University of Georgia expansion.

Other footage not shown in this online clip includes local service organization members (Kiwanis, Pilot Club) gathering for lunch downtown, local bankers and businessmen outside their buildings, a scene of the Chamber of Commerce building, aerial views of Athens, a livestock auction at the Northeast Georgia Livestock Association building, a Shriners’ parade downtown, the airport, UGA campus scenes, the Garden Club of Georgia’s Founders Garden, a golf course, Athens General Hospital, and the Rodgers Hosiery Company.

The referenced material is all in the current online version, though obviously not in the 3 minute teaser. Since livestock and brick are still major enterprises in that part of the state, there’s no reason to leave them out.

Is it embarrassing that the only evidence of labor is that being performed by Athens’ black citizens, by a child’s nurse (complete with uniform), pulling a wagon, wash bleaching on the line and only the children at play?


Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."