Georgia’s history is populated with innovative and courageous individuals, some of them famous and others nearly forgotten. Hear their stories, and learn about their contributions to the state’s economy, culture, and development.
Alonzo Herndon, a former slave born in 1858 in Social Circle, sought to better himself and ultimately became Atlanta's first African-American millionaire. An entrepreneur at heart, he learned barbering and eventually opened his own shop in Atlanta called the Crystal Palace and later founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company. Historian Marcellus Barksdale describes the Crystal Palace as fitting its name. Carole Merritt, director of Herndon Home, takes students on a tour of the house where Alonzo Herndon lived with his wife Adrienne and their son Norris.
Fran Powell Harold, director of the Girl Scout National Center, discusses the energy and creativity that Juliette Gordon Low brought to the formation of the Girl Scouts, which she founded in her Savannah home. In a Girl Scout promotional film she created, young girls are seen as physically fit, able to swim, communicating in Morse code, and learning to be self-reliant. The story of the creation of the Girl Scouts is framed with a visit to a contemporary Augusta troop.
Dr. Crawford W. Long used ether to conduct the first painless operation on March 30, 1842. Susan Deaver, director of the Crawford W. Long Museum, Bill Custer, of Georgia State University, and Dan Rahn, an M.D. at Georgia Medical College, describe anesthesia and the scientific and technological advances in medicine.
Martha Berry founded Possum Trot, a log cabin school for rural children, at Oak Hill, on her Rome, Georgia family’s plantation. In addition to receiving academic and religious instruction, her students were trained in manual skills -- students literally helped build the Berry School. This segment includes scenes from a 1950s newsreel recounting the life of Martha Berry. Local historians and former students comment.
Marcus Bartlett, a retired executive vice president for Cox Communications; Elmo Ellis, retired vice president of WSB; and Allan Macleod of the College of Journalism at the University of Georgia discuss Atlanta’s WSB (for “Welcome South, Brother”) radio station, the first to broadcast in the South.
A passionate journalist and charismatic public speaker, Henry Woodfin Grady was known as the “The Spokesman of the New South.” In the late 19th Century, he engaged in a near one-man campaign to bring prosperity to Atlanta and the rest of the South, so damaged and depressed from the recent American Civil War. Grady’s movement fixed fast-growing Atlanta as the hub of the New South, and it spurred the economic growth of the entire region.
An early champion of poor farmers in the shambles after the Civil War, Thomas Watson was the voice of the Populist Party. In his later years, however, he was known as a divisive and racist politician.
Rebecca Latimer Felton, a Georgia native and women's rights activist, was the first woman to serve as a United States senator. Following the death of Georgia Senator Thomas Watson, Felton was appointed to the open seat during a special election in 1922. Although she was the nation’s official first woman senator, Felton served for only a day.
Carl Vinson was sworn into Congress in 1914 at the age of 31 and would serve a record 25 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives - a total of more than 50 years. A fierce advocate for the military, he was proficient in getting bills through Congress. His insistence that America had to be prepared, even during the Cold War, enabled the armed forces to maintain their status of strength and readiness.
After falling on hard times during the depression of 1893 Nina Paper Anderson took to teaching at Savannah's Massey School. Her progressive educational views led her to open her own school where kindergarten was a focus, pupils were divided into groups, boys and girls were held to the same standards, and women consistently graduated to attend seven sisters colleges of the northeast. After a phone call from Juliette Gordon Low, it was Pape's students that became the first Girls Scouts and Nina Anderson Pape who helped write their first manual. Today, her educational legacy lives on in Savannah Country Day which grew out of original Pape School.
May duBignon Stiles Howard left sleepy Brunswick to attend nursing school in New York City. Returning to Georgia she became a nurse in Savannah, married a local doctor and rose to be president of the Georgia Medical Society. In education Howard led the Savannah Parent-Teacher Association to focus more on children's health and well being--including children with special needs. Appointed by Governor Talmadge to the President's educational council, she was also Savannah's Woman of the Year in 1953, and received May Howard Elementary School named in her honor.
Raised to be a lady of leisure and high society, Juliette Gordon Low's life changed entirely when she was seeking a new direction for herself after her marriage dissolved. In London, she met the founder of England's Girl Guides. The patrols she started for the girls of Savannah became the Girl Scouts eventually enlisting the First Ladies of the United States as honorary presidents of the organization.
Family and friends, including President Jimmy Carter and Marcia Dew Bansley, Executive Director of Trees Atlanta, reflect on Jane Hurt Yarn's life work on protecting Georgia's environment. She was instrumental in passing conservation legislature, including the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act which preserves and protects Georgia's coastal environment.
Abraham Baldwin lived only fifty three years. But in that time he was a lawyer, Yale graduate, state legislator, army chaplain, signer of the U.S. Constitution, House Representative, Senator, and founder and president of a university. One of his greatest legacies was forcing the Constitutional Convention into the Great Compromise creating a bicameral legislature for representation of the states in America's federal system.