An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
Posted on February 4, 2013
by

Stewart Varner, Emory University

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Emory University's Digital Scholarship Commons is excited to invite proposals for presentations at the First Annual Atlanta Studies Symposium. The day-long symposium will be held on April 26, 2013 in Emory's Robert W. Woodruff Library.

Katherine Hankins, Associate Professor of Geosciences at Georgia State University, and Zephyr Frank, Associate Professor of Latin American Studies and Director of Stanford University's Spatial History Project, will each deliver a keynote address.

The symposium will convene an interdisciplinary meeting of scholars and community activists concerned with issues related to Atlanta. We are also eager to highlight the the wealth of resources available at area libraries and museums, and to enhance connections between scholars, institutions, and libraries.

Some potential themes for presentation topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Population and Place
  • Metropolitan Ecologies
  • Transportation
  • Education

Proposals for papers, talks, or round-table discussions should be no more than 400 words. Proposals on any aspect of Atlanta are welcome, but priority will be given to papers that relate in some way to the themes listed above. Preference will also be given to proposals for fully constituted panels. Cover letters for panels should indicate the theme and identify the panel's participants. We are eager to make this event as engaging as possible and encourage presentations that represent work-in-progress that would benefit from open conversation. Please include audio-video requirements in your proposal.

Please send proposal via email to disc@emory.edu by 5pm on February 15. Contact Stewart Varner (stewart.varner@emory.edu) with any questions.

This event is free and open to the public. We are also cultivating research around Atlanta through the Atlanta Studies Network

Posted on January 30, 2013
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Meredith Doster, Emory University; Rana Xavier, Photographer

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As part of the "Appalachia Rising: Voices from the Mountains" conference held in September 2010, protesters participated in a day of action in the nation's capital to increase awareness of mountaintop removal mining (MTR) and its impact on Appalachian communities. Described as both a mobilizing effort and an opportunity for civil disobedience, the protest resulted in over one hundred arrests during a sit-in on Freedom Plaza. While mountaintop removal is often considered an Appalachian problem, this protest and its depiction of the federal Army Corps of Engineers points to the complexity of environmental issues that transcend regional boundaries.    

Day of action, Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., September 27, 2010.
Rena Xavier, Day of action, Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., September 27, 2010.
Posted on January 24, 2013
by

Alan G. Pike, Emory University

in

The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • On January 21, 2013, the day of President Barack Obama's second inauguration, the Virginia state Senate rushed a bill to re-draw district maps in the state's 40 senatorial districts while Virginia state Senator and civil rights attorney Henry L. Marsh III was in Washington, D.C. attending the presidential inauguration. Because the state Senate is evenly split 20–20 between Democrats and Republicans, Marsh's absence allowed Republicans to pass the measure with a 20-19 majority. Marsh called the move "shameful." In a statement released on January 22, Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who would have cast the tie-breaking vote if Marsh had been present, held "grave concerns" about the proposed redistricting plan, and stated that he did not support the move. Even though members of the Washington Post Editorial Board condemned the move as "a bald-faced power grab" and Republican Governor Bob McDonnell opined that "I certainly don't think that's a good way to do business," supporters of the redrawn district map contend that it corrects Democratic gerrymandering put in place in 2011 and creates a new majority-minority district in order to "enhance Virginia's compliance with the Voting Rights Act." 
  • State-level redistricting plans enacted in Alabama, Texas, and Florida since the 2010 US Census are also being contested. Next month, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, which challenges "whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution." The case involves the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit on behalf of the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and four Shelby County voters in order to defend Section 5, which requires jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to have changes to their voting laws "precleared" by the federal government to protect voting access of racial and language minorities. A similar case declaring Section 5 unconstitutional was filed in Texas, where a controversial Republican-authored redistricting plan was denied preclearance in 2011; the case is unlikely to be heard by the high court until the Holder decision later this year. More information on that case can be found at the Texas Redistricting and Election Law Blog. Finally, even though the state legislature, state Supreme Court, and the US Department of Justice all approved Florida's 2012 redistricting plans, Florida's Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis issued an order which denied a motion to dismiss a challenge to those plans on January 17, 2013. The plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, argue that the plans gerrymander districts across the state "in favor of Republican interests." They will get a chance to argue the case in court later this year.
Posted on January 23, 2013
by

Garrett Peck, Independent Scholar

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1823 Seneca Quarry workmen payroll. 1823 payroll. National Archives & Records Administration, Records Group 42: Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, 1790–1992. The ARC Identifier is 3025595, MLR Number A1 18.
1823 Seneca Quarry workmen payroll. 1823 payroll. National Archives & Records Administration, Records Group 42: Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, 1790–1992. The ARC Identifier is 3025595, MLR Number A1 18.

Congratulations are in order for Professor Mark Auslander for publishing his well researched and excellent article, "Enslaved Labor and Building the Smithsonian." I've been researching and writing a broad history of Seneca quarry over the past year, a book called The Smithsonian Castle and The Seneca Quarry, which the History Press will publish in February 2013 in time for Black History Month. Prof. Auslander and I each independently came to a very similar conclusion about the likelihood of slaves working at the quarry during the construction of the Smithsonian Castle. While overt evidence confirming that slave labor was used (such as a contract between a slave owner and a contractor to lease slaves) hasn't surfaced, the evidence points in that direction. 

I might add that slaves almost certainly did work at the Seneca quarry on an earlier project in 1823, either for the US Capitol Rotunda archways and doors, or the White House porticoes, or both. We know this from a federal payroll found in the National Archives. The project lasted four months (April, May, June, July), and at its peak in May employed seventy workers at the quarry. Out of those seventy workers, thirty-one signed for their pay with an "X," which was then countersigned by the paymaster, Arch. Lee, as they were illiterate. It was illegal to educate slaves, so some (or even many) of these people may have been slaves. An additional three workers were noted as "Boy," meaning a slave servant. And thirteen workers were noted only by their first namesnames like Rezin, Salsbury, Hall, Nace, Ishmael, Luke, Frank and Martina common practice for slaves. Someone signed for these thirteen people, as none of them "marked" the payroll. It could well be that their owners collected their pay and signed for them.

1823 payroll. National Archives & Records Administration, Records Group 42: Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, 1790–1992. The ARC Identifier is 3025595, MLR Number A1 18.
1823 payroll. National Archives & Records Administration, Records Group 42: Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, 1790–1992. The ARC Identifier is 3025595, MLR Number A1 18.

The most remarkable part of the 1823 payroll is the annotation by Frank and Martin (see image, lines 31 and 32). Whoever signed for their pay signed their names as "Negro Martin" and "Negro Frank." These men were almost certainly slaves. Adding these two together with the three "Boys," you have at least five slaves working on the projectand possibly many more. In fact, a majority of workers for this project may have been slaves.1

In all of my research, the 1823 federal payroll from Seneca quarry was the only quarry payroll I uncovered (and I looked through a lot of archives); this was of course four decades before the Castle construction. Sadly there are no quarry company records, and most of the early Castle records were burned up in a disastrous fire at the Smithsonian in January 1865. Like assembling a puzzle that's missing a few pieces, we can see the overall picture of Seneca quarry, even while some crucial elements may be forever lost.

The quarry at the time of the 1823 federal payroll was owned by Thomas Peter, the father of John P. C. Peter. He transferred the property to John around 1828, and John began building Montevideo, a Tudor Place in miniature a mile from the quarry. It was John P. C. Peter who won the bid to supply redstone for the Smithsonian Castle.

Seneca quarry closed during the Civil War; it lay right along the C&O Canal, which was frequently targeted by Confederates. In 1866, John P. C. Peter's son Thomas sold the quarry and adjacent farm to the Seneca Sandstone Company. The new owners mismanaged the company, significantly undercapitalizing it by selling stock to senior Republican leaders at half-price (including Ulysses S. Grant), then took out several mortgages that they couldn't pay back. The quarry's bankruptcy in 1876 helped bring down the Freedman's Bank, wiping out the savings of some 400,000 freed slaves and exacerbating poverty among African Americans for decades. This early example of Gilded Age crony capitalism has the whiff of Enron, WorldCom, and the recent housing bubble all wrapped into one.

Remarkably, the Seneca quarry reopened in 1883. It went bankrupt again in 1890, reopened, then closed for good in 1901. We know that many former slaves worked at the quarry after the Civil War from newspaper advertisements, personal accounts, and above all a treasure trove of photos uncovered during my research that shows the quarry in actionalmost all of them showing black workers. The history of Seneca quarry is inextricably linked to African American history.

  • 1. National Archives & Records Administration, Records Group 42: Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, 1790–1992. The ARC Identifier is 3025595, MLR Number A1 18.
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Seneca Quarry

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Posted on December 20, 2012
by

Alan G. Pike, Emory University

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The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

Posted on December 18, 2012
by

Natasha Trethewey, Emory University

in
Jake Adam York during an interview with Natasha Trethewey, 2008.
Jake Adam York during an interview with Natasha Trethewey, 2008.

Jake Adam York served faithfully on the Southern Spaces editorial board. His insight, enthusiasm, and generosity will be missed.

Jake Adam York was a poet of great vision and a deeply humane intelligence. His work to chart the history of his native South and the civil rights movement—its violence and erasures—represents a brave reclamation and reckoning: a reclamation rooted in the absolute necessity to articulate, in the elegant language of poetry, a fuller version of our American story. Beyond the sheer beauty and technical skill of his poems is a profound intervention into our ongoing conversations about race and social justice. His body of work represents a bold and necessary challenge to our historical amnesia, making him one of our most indispensable American poets.

Related Southern Spaces Links

York, Jake Adam. "A Field Guide to Northern Alabama," March 7, 2008. http://www.southernspaces.org/2008/field-guide-northeast-alabama.

———. "In the Queen City: A Reading at the Gadsden Public Library," April 1, 2008. http://www.southernspaces.org/2008/queen-city-reading-gadsden-public-library.

———. "Anniversary," April 15, 2010. http://southernspaces.org/2010/anniversary.

———. "Medicine as Memory: Radcliffe Bailey at Atlanta's High Museum of Art," January 26, 2012. http://southernspaces.org/2012/medicine-memory-radcliffe-bailey-atlantas-high-museum-art.

Beasley, Sandra. "Jake Adam York Interviews Sandra Beasley," September 22, 2011. http://southernspaces.org/2011/jake-adam-york-interviews-sandra-beasley.

Trethewey, Natasha. "Jake Adam York Interviews Natasha Trethewey," June 15, 2010. http://southernspaces.org/2010/jake-adam-york-interviews-natasha-trethewey.

Books

 York, Jake Adam. The Architecture of Address: The Monument and Public Speech in American Poetry. New York: Routledge, 2004.

———. Murder Ballads. Denver, CO: Elixir Press, 2005.

———. A Murmuration of Starlings. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, 2008.

———. Persons Unknown. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, 2010.

Online Publications

Donovan, Gregory. "An Interview with Jake Adam York." Blackbird," 4, no. 1 (Spring 2005). http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v4n1/features/york_ja_100105/.

York, Jake Adam. "At Cornwall Furnace," "Breakfast," "Cannon," "Elegy for Little Girls," "In the Magic City," "Iron," "Janney," "Landscape in Dolomite and Ferric Oxide," "Looking for Cane Creek Furnace," "Midnight, Furnace, Wind," and "Interview with Featured Poet Jake Adam York." Town Creek Poetry 1, no. 1 (Spring 2007). http://www.towncreekpoetry.com/SPR07/toc.htm.

———. "Aubade," "Doppler," "What You Wish For," "Under," "Fell," "Heat," and "Regret/Egret." H_NGM_N no. 5. http://www.h-ngm-n.com/h_ngm_n-5/Jake-Adam-York.html.

———. "Bunk Richardson," "Consolation," "On Tallaseehatchee Creek," and "Vigil." Blackbird 3, no. 2 (Fall 2004). http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v3n2/poetry/york_ja/.

———. "The Crowd He Becomes." DIAGRAM 7, no. 2. http://thediagram.com/7_2/york.html.

———. "Diphthong," "Virga," and "Radiotherapy." Typo Magazine, no. 1. http://www.typomag.com/issue01/york.html.

———. "Elegy for James Knox." DIAGRAM 3, no. 2. http://thediagram.com/3_2/york.html.

———. "At Liberty," "Substantiation," "For Reverend James Reeb," and "For Lamar Smith." Blackbird 5, no. 2 (Fall 2006). http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v5n2/poetry/york_j/.

———. "Interferometry." Greensboro Review, no. 71 (Spring 2002). http://www.greensbororeview.org/spring-2002/interferometry.html.

———. Legba Says." Octopus Magazine, no. 1 (Summer 2003). http://www.octopusmagazine.com/issue01/Templates/jake_adam_york.html

———. "Panoramic: Landscape With Repeating Figures," "Double Exposure," and "Elegy for Little Girls." Terrain.org, no. 17 (Fall 2005). http://www.terrain.org/poetry/17/york.htm.

———. "Signal." DIAGRAM 2, no.3. http://thediagram.com/2_3/york.html.

———. "Still" and "Bye Bye Blackbird/Blackbird Bye Bye." Shampoo, no. 13 (August 2002). http://www.shampoopoetry.com/ShampooThirteen/york.html.

———. "Walt Whitman in Alabama," "Hush," "Negatives," and "York." Colorado Poets Center. http://www.coloradopoetscenter.org/poets/york_jake-adam/walt-whitman.html.

Links

Copper Nickel, University of Colorado, Denver, editor
http://www.copper-nickel.org/

Jake Adam York
http://www.jakeadamyork.com/

storySouth, founding editor
http://storysouth.com/

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Posted on December 13, 2012
by

Devin M. Brown, Emory University

in

This week's featured image was inspired by my own search for information about my newly adopted neighborhood of Cabbagetown, a former milltown on Atlanta's east side. With its perilous, narrow streets and shotgun houses—both hallmarks of milltown design—and with the Fulton Mill smokestacks looming mutely in the background, the neighborhood is saturated with remnants of its industrial past. But what did Cabbagetown look and feel like between the late nineteenth century and the late 1970s when the neighborhood's industrial identity was in its heyday?

Georgia Tech's Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills Digital Collection aims to show us a portion of this history. The collection, which is the result of a joint effort between the institute's Library and Information Center's Archives and Records Management, Digital Initiatives, and Systems Departments, provides digital access to archival images, community censuses, correspondence, and other records pertaining to the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills. Additionally, the collection highlights materials on "Labor organizing" and "Labor strikes," offering a wealth of archival print resources related to millworkers' struggles to organize in the early twentieth century.

After finding Cabbagetown using the collection's browse function, I discovered a number of striking images of my neighborhood, including an unattributed photograph from the early twentieth century depicting a store called Red J. on Carroll Street. Although it's difficult to determine the exact location of the shop from the contextual information contained within the image it's safe to say that it was very close to the factory's eastern side.

Red J. Store on Carroll Street, ca. 1910–1920. Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills Digital Collection, Georgia Institute of Technology, vam004-015.
Red J. Store on Carroll Street, ca. 1910–1920. Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills Digital Collection, Georgia Institute of Technology, vam004-015.

Given the amount and types of resources this digital collection makes available to the public, I suspect I'll be referencing it more frequently as I work to uncover for myself Cabbagetown's rich and complicated past.