A University of Georgia collaboration that presented Georgia’s incarceration history in an exhibition and on stage is being honored as one of the top public history projects in the nation.
Archivists with UGA’s special collections libraries partnered with theatre and dance faculty on campus and at Spelman College to engage students in an exploration of reports, correspondence, newsfilm, photographs and other original materials from archival collections documenting the history of convict labor in Georgia. Over the course of three semesters, students and faculty created a devised theatrical performance grounded in that history.
As The New South and the New Slavery exhibit was on display at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries last fall, [The Georgia Incarceration Performance Project] students and faculty continued to explore the archival collections, as well as brainstorm and rehearse inside the gallery space. GIPP then hosted a series of performances as part of the Spotlight on the Arts festival at UGA in November. The project culminated in performances at Spelman earlier this month.
“Archivists from the UGA Special Collections Libraries were delighted to partner with Dr. Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin and the rest of an outstanding team of students and faculty at UGA and Spelman College,” said Toby Graham, University Librarian and Associate Provost. “UGA students have been involved in the exhibit and performance at every step, creating a unique set of experiential learning opportunities and reaching audiences in an unforgettable way."
The project received an honorable mention in the National Council on Public History’s Outstanding Public History Project Award category. The recipients will be honored during NCPH’s annual meeting in Atlanta in March.
Headquartered on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the National Council on Public History (NCPH), based at is a nonprofit membership association that inspires public engagement with the past and serves the needs of practitioners in putting history to work in the world. It is supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, among other support.