The Journal
The Latest from the History Center
Newsletter March 10 - 15
March 15, 2019

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Family Day Irish Heritage

We had a great turn out for our Irish Heritage Family Day! The Celtic music band Stronger Than Tea played traditional Irish music on the fiddle, harp, and hammered dulcimer. Irish dancing demonstrations by Atlanta Historic Dance had many on their feet! Our Living History demonstration interpreted the life of Irish soldiers in the American War for Independence and the Civil War. Our hands-on activities included Irish lacemaking by the Gainesville Lacemakers, an original Irish Potato Famine board game by Museum Manager David French, Ogham script writing, and our "Try It On" station where costumes were available for our green screen photos. The event concluded with Director of Education Ken Johnston's special presentation about Irish immigration to the United States since the 1700s.

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School Programs

One of our most popular on-site programs at the History Center is Native American Encounters: From the 1540 De Soto Expedition to the 1740s Anglo-Cherokee Deer Skin Trade. This first part of this program provides context to the ill-fated Hernando De Soto expedition of 1540 in which Spanish and European conquistadors encountered Native American tribes of northeast Georgia during their search for gold. While there were bloody battles between De Soto's forces and the Native tribes encountered westward, the most deadly impact of the De Soto expedition was the disease brought over from Europe. Measles, mumps, and small pox devastated the Mississippian Native tribes to the point of total collapse. Hernando De Soto died of disease himself on the banks of the Mississippi river having found no gold.

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With this context, the program transitions into the 18th century after the Cherokee and Creek tribes move in to what was once a vast Mississippian culture. Trade is established between the European settlers and Native tribes. Deerskin was a particularly valuable item to the settlers as it was ideal to export back to Europe to be made into leather goods. In exchange for deerskin, Native Americans would receive advanced weapons such as muskets and iron axes to replace their bows and stone axes among other items that increased their quality of life. But the Europeans had a plan to gain something even more valuable than deerskin: land. By intentionally inflating the price of deerskin, the Europeans soon had many Native Americans in debt to them. The plan worked. Without any other way to pay their debts, the Native Americans gave up their land to Europeans.

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During the program, our Director of Education Ken Johnston wears replica armor of a high ranking conquistador and demonstrates the matchlock arquebus seen below. Museum Manager David French or Executive Director Glen Kyle interprets the European settler/trader of the 1740s and demonstrates the flintlock musket. While students are certainly engaged during this program, nothing gets their attention more than when we demonstrate the weapons!

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This week we had 7th grade students of the Da Vinci Academy enjoy the program. We learned that they were working on a project in which they would create a mini exhibit on a topic to teach younger classmates. They asked Ken and David questions about living history interpretation, their advice on keeping your audience's attention, and received information on best practices for an exhibit.

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The programs we do through the Ada Mae Ivester Education Center are truly outstanding. We are fortunate to have so much knowledge, skill, and passion within our small team! But it would not be possible without the Ada Mae Ivester Education Center and the support of our Members.

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This week's From the Archives is a collection of Knights of Pythias items. The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization and secret society that was created in 1864. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone who was a composer, actor, and served as a government clerk in the U.S. Treasury Department. The name of the organization is inspired by the legend of Damon and Pythias which centers around ideals of loyalty, honor, and friendship. By the end of the "Golden Age of Fraternalism" in the early 1920s, the order had almost one million members. Notable members include President Warren G. Harding, President William McKinley, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, and musician Louis Armstrong. The Knights of Pythias still exists today with thousands of members.

The items in our archives include a Rules and Regulations book from 1895, a white helmet, a red sash, and a belt with an ornate buckle.

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Forum The War Outside My Window
April 9th from 7-8PM at the History Center
$3 General Admission & Free for Members
Writer and Historian Janet Elizabeth Croon speaks on the Civil War journals of young Macon resident Leroy Wiley Gresham, who suffered a debilitating accident before the war, and whose chronicling of his own slow death was in tandem with the rise and demise of the Confederacy.

Taste of History 2019
Thursday, April 11th at 6PM
$125 per ticket
Our annual fundraiser Taste of History will celebrate Sandra and Nathan Deal for their lifetime of service. The event will take place at the Ramsey Conference Center at Lanier Technical College on Thursday, April 11th at 6PM. A plated dinner will be served and we'll have an open bar with beer and wine. Sponsorships of $1,500 and up are available. To purchase tickets or inquire about a sponsorship, please call 770-297-5900.

Family Day The Civil War in North Georgia
Sunday, April 14th from 1-4PM at the History Center
FREE thanks to the Ada Mae Ivester Education Center
An examination of the Civil War's effects in North Georgia, this family-friendly event features living-history demonstrations, hands-on activities, games and museum theater performances.

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The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University - 322 Academy St NE Gainesville, GA 30501 - 770.297.5900 - historycenter@brenau.edu