The Journal
The Latest from the History Center
Newsletter April 22-26
April 26, 2019

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This week we debuted a new Live Webcast Lesson about World War II. One of the unique features of our Webcasts is that teachers can request lessons on the topic their class is studying. Our Webcast Lessons are developed using Living History Interpretation techniques making it much more than a presentation.

Our Executive Director Glen Kyle and Director of Education Ken Johnston interpreted the basic equipment carried by an Infantry Private in two different Allied armies – The United States Army and the Red Army of the Soviet Union. In this compare and contrast program the students got to see the famed US M1, the first standard-issue semi-automatic military rifle, which gave US Infantrymen superior firepower against any Axis troops they faced, and the Soviet PPSH-41, the cheap, reliable, and simple submachine gun, used by the Red Army Infantry to great effect in the close quarter fighting in Stalingrad against the Nazis.

The students also got to see differences in helmets (the US helmet was more comfortable as it had a liner and the Soviet helmet did not), footwear (the US soldier wore a low boot while the Soviet soldier wore a calf-boot), and bayonets (the US soldier’s bayonet was in a scabbard on his back pack while the Soviet soldier was to keep his fixed to his rifle at all times – theoretically!). The teacher who booked the webcast, Erin Daniel of North Forsyth High School, commented via email afterward, “WE LOVED IT!!! We wanted to keep asking questions, but the bell rang…The experience of seeing the real equipment was amazing. We will definitely do another one next year.”

It is experiences like this that continue to prove the worth of the Cottrell Digital Studio, overseen by Director of Media & Communications Libba Beaucham, to enable our mission to reach students in ways not possible before.

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Martin Luther King Jr. gave his_ I Have a Dream Speech_ to the fifth grade class of Flowery Branch Elementary this week. MLK Jr. is portrayed by Atlanta based actor Mustapha Slack who you may recognize in our Webisodes as Frederick Douglass and Austin Dabney. During the in-character Q&A, students learned about what inspired MLK Jr. to become a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, the struggles and dangers he faced, and who helped him along the way. Students broke into applause when MLK Jr. observed that their classroom showed the future he hoped for: people of all different colors and creeds learning and growing together.


Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his I Have a Dream speech


Mustapha Slack takes questions from students as he portrays Martin Luther King Jr.

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Second grade students of the Gainesville Exploration Academy visited the History Center for our Deerskin Trade program. This program explores Cherokee interaction with European American settlers in the British colony of Georgia during the 18th century. Students learn about early Native American tools and weapons, how Native Americans traded highly prized deerskin to settlers in exchange for more advanced weapons and tools, and how European settlers strategically led Native Americans into debt in order to acquire their land.


Students pose with a real deerskin

This is a very popular program at the History Center that incorporates history, material culture, and even STEM topics when discussing the physics of the weapons demonstrated. We always try to end the program with a bang through a rifle demonstration which captures great reactions from the kids!


Director of Education Ken Johnston demonstrates a trade with a volunteer

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A great reaction from the rifle demonstration!


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This week's video for National Poetry Month is Moment at Dusk by Bettie Sellers (1926-2013.) Sellers was a native of north Georgia and is best known for her poetry depicting life in southern Appalachia. Observations of nature, the seasons, and the region's wildlife are often present in her poetry. Sellers was also a professor of English at Young Harris for over thirty years and received an Emmy for her research role in producing a film on Georgia poet Byron Herbert Reece. Her awards included Poet of the Year by the American Pen Women, the Governor's Award for Humanities, and being named Poet Laureate of Georgia among other honors.

To see the video of Moment at Dusk click the image below:

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It was William Shakespeare's birthday on April 23rd! We sent our best wishes to The Bard in a fun video on our Facebook page. Click the image below to watch!

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This week's From the Archives offers a bit of local history about the fire departments in Gainesville. The photos below are from a keepsake book of the family of James "Jim" T. Squires (1933-2009.) Mr. Squires started Gainesville's Suburban Fire Department in 1963, which was later bought by Hall County Fire Services. Mr. Squires was also a member of the Hall County Jaycees. In the Jaycee magazine Future, Mr. Squires touted having over 2,000 Hall County customers which included "homeowners, farmers, chicken raisers, industries, and city folks with weekend homes on a resort lake."


Jim Squires poses for a photo in front of a fire engine


The team of the Suburban Fire Department poses for a photo outside their headquarters


A dramatic image from the scrapbook showing a fire being put out

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Gainesville's first fire department was formed in 1876. The above photo was taken sometime in the early 1900s.

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Gainesville's first fire engine, which was pulled by a team of horses. Taken sometime in the late 1800s.

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Forum: The War Outside My Window
Tuesday, May 14th 7-8PM
$3 General Admission or 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.

Saturday Family Day: The End of the 1830s -- Frontier No More
Saturday, May 18th 12PM-4PM
As the 1830’s draw to a close the sad chapter of Federal Indian Removal ends in North Georgia and the Southeast at large, with the Cherokee Trail of Tears and military actions against the Creek and Seminole - what white settlers called the Frontier has become their homesteads. This special Saturday Family Day explores the 1830s with Living History demonstrations and activities as well as arts and crafts by the Quinlan Art center.

Free and open to the public! Presented as part of the Ada Mae Ivester Education Center.

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For more fascinating photos and information on our region's past, follow our social media!



The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University - 322 Academy St NE Gainesville, GA 30501 - 770.297.5900 -