The Georgia Stories series consists of streaming videos, educator resources, and primary source materials that support the teaching of Georgia Studies. The materials are correlated to Georgia Standards and are searchable by the standard. The educator resources include focus questions, vocabulary words, activity suggestions, and primary source materials, as well as links to related websites. The series was produced by GPB Education and supplement GPB’s full Georgia Studies digital library which includes: Georgia Studies digital textbook, 30 virtual field trips, and Georgia Race Through Time history adventure game.
From the earliest days when Hernando de Soto crossed into Georgia during his expedition across southeastern North America to the creation of the United States as a new nation, Georgia was the stage for the encounter between indigenous peoples and new European settlers. The histories and traditions of Georgia’s native American groups are deep and diverse. Georgia’s settlement period brought new economies and new challenges to the colonial outpost eventually setting up a conflict between loyalist and patriot Georgians over their relationship with Great Britain. Out of the crisis of revolution the state of Georgia was born, with growing cities and institutions.
Georgia’s geography is varied and expansive, encompassing rolling mountains and valleys in the north to sweeping plains, beaches, and swamps in the south. The state’s unique physical characteristics are highlighted in the geologic record and in the diversity of landforms...
Humans first arrived in the region we today call Georgia more than eleven thousand years ago. They developed systems of governance, economic sustainability, and cultural spirituality. As groups became more sophisticated, traditions and customs were passed along to preserve a unique heritage.
From Hernando de Soto’s earliest journey through the southeast to the years after the French and Indian War, Georgia developed thriving cities, a bustling port, and a culture influenced by Spanish, French, British, and Native American societies.
As the last colony to join the rebellion against Great Britain, due in part to its heavy reliance on maritime trade, Georgia’s entry into the American revolution was a complicated affair. Governors were installed and removed, cities fell and were liberated, and the burgeoning backcountry involvement played out more like a civil war than an independence movement.
As Georgia transitioned from colony to state, settlers expanded west into the interior of the southern United States searching for land and freedom. They increasingly came into conflict with groups like the Creek and Cherokee. Eventually conflict led to the forced removal of native groups as Georgia grew into the Antebellum era, expanding a plantation and slave economy and subsequently allying itself with the Confederate States of America. Secession from the Union brought devastating consequences during the Civil War with Georgia’s cities and economy being ravaged by invading armies, leaving behind the ashes of a proud state.
In the years after the American Revolution, Georgia experienced a period of infrastructure building, increased economic growth, and the associated movement of its state capital. As settlers expanded westward seeking opportunity and Native Americans were forcefully compressed into the same limited territories, relationships among these culturally diverse groups became increasingly tense.
The period encompassing the decades before the Civil War shows two distinctly American societies diverging both economically and ideologically. As the North grew into an industrial powerhouse, it continued to benefit from the South’s primarily agrarian system, built on a foundation of forced labor. These profoundly different cultures and perspectives would eventually clash in the War Between the States.
As the threat of abolition intensified with the presidential election of Abraham Lincoln, Georgia joined other slave-holding states in seceding from the Union to form a new nation, the Confederate States of America. Over the next four years, Georgia witnessed success on the battlefield and devastation in its capital as Sherman marched from the Atlanta campaign to the sea. At the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, America had suffered its deadliest war, and the charred remains of Georgia were readmitted to the United States.
In the wake of the Civil War, Georgia faced the dual challenges of rebuilding a shattered economy and integrating freed slaves into its population. As the state struggled to rise from the ashes of war during Reconstruction and into the first decades of the twentieth century, competing visions for the direction of southern politics and the New South economy dominated the state. Along the way, modern forms of entertainment and emerging cultural influences integrated Georgia’s past with its present.
Georgia’s recovery after the Civil War was slow and arduous. With transportation networks destroyed, major cities in ruins, and widespread devastation of the population and economy, Georgia faced the daunting task of rebuilding its foundations, integrating back into the Union, and assimilating newly freed African-American citizens.
Georgia’s rise from the ashes of civil war sparked a debate about development and the future of the state. Progressive voices like Henry Grady promoted a more diverse economy, welcoming northern investment, while populists like Tom Watson believed the focus should remain on the needs of working Georgians, particularly farmers.
Primarily an agricultural state with scattered cities, Georgian farmers faced significant challenges through sharecropping, droughts and falling prices. When markets crashed in 1929, Georgia was already facing economic uncertainty. The years of the 1930s saw citizens across the state struggling to find jobs and basic necessities of life. With a strong connection to Franklin Delano Roosevelt through Warm Springs, Georgia, was uniquely positioned to benefit from policies of New Deal.
Like much of the rural south, Georgia faced a struggling agricultural economy even before the market crash of 1929. But as the nation reeled from a downward-spiraling economic shock, the lives of Georgians became increasingly difficult. Jobs were scarce, banks and businesses were wary of investing, and even the daily necessities of life were hard to come by.
As war spread across the world and eventually drew in the United States, much of Georgia was impacted by mobilization. Georgians served in the armed forces and national legislature, and left their family farms for cities with factories and military bases. In the years after World War II, citizens experienced unprecedented increases in their standard of living, realizing new opportunities and new forms of leisure they had never known.
Contributing to the efforts of fellow Georgians fighting overseas in Europe and the Pacific, workers across the state rose to the challenge of producing crucial materials for the war effort. From ordnance plants to plane and shipbuilding factories, Georgians of every background worked together to support the fight.
Following World War II, Georgia entered a period of great transition, with populations moving from rural to urban landscapes, the economy modernizing and diversifying, and political influence shifting from traditional centers of influence.
Beginning with the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, the United States embarked on a journey that lasted at least for another decade, to bring equality under the law. While Georgia faced its own challenges to ending segregation it moved slowly towards progress as the state’s economy modernized, grew and took on an expanding role in the global economy.
Home to some of the most prominent figures of the Civil Rights Movement, Georgia nevertheless wrestled with bringing an end to the Jim Crow era. Early efforts to integrate society were met with resistance from both the public and the state, and it would ultimately take decades for Georgia to fully relinquish the practice of segregation.
In the wake of tumultuous national events during the 1950s and 1960s, Georgia became an increasingly progressive state. Administrations focused more on diversifying Georgia’s economy, politics became more representative of Georgia’s demographics, and the state soon evolved into a regional and national hub for business and entertainment.
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