Grant Number 98-058G
Director, Dr. Laurie Sommers, South Georgia Folklife Project,
The project included networking and limited fieldwork
by Project Director Sommers
in targeted communities, and a public workshop which highlighted
traditional arts in south Georgia. The workshops approached the exploration of
community “heritage and traditions” from the vantage point of folklore and
folklife. The Project Director focused on “traditional culture” or culture
which is learned informally, transmitted orally, and shaped by the distinctive
religious, ethnic, occupational, and geographic characteristics of south Georgia.
Many people mistakenly equate “folklore” with history (rather than as living
traditions) or with falsehoods (“Oh, that’s just folklore!”). It is often taken for granted as “just the
way we do things.” These workshops brought the scholarly approach to folk
culture into focus, and encouraged informed documentation and programming, thus
enhancing a broader appreciation and awareness of south
Georgia’s heritage and culture. Oral
interviewing techniques were introduced through a 30-minute video presentation,
“An Oral Historian’s Work,” produced by the
The intent of this project was to network with the key gatekeepers in the arts and cultural activities of various south Georgia communities. In this the project succeeded. Because the workshop title was changed to “Exploring Community Heritage” (at suggestion of Syd Blackmarr) in the attempt to reach a broader audience, it attracted a disproportionately large number of senior citizens and those who equated “heritage” with “history.” However, the workshop itself broadened the notion of heritage to include folklife and emphasized living traditions over historic ones. The project successfully reached its target audience of arts and humanities programmers, historical societies, community center personnel, cultural tourism promoters, educators, tradition bearers, and the general public. The workshops drew a small minority audience that reflected the nature of mailing lists and constituencies of the arts and cultural organizations in these communities. To reach such audiences, future workshops would need to be located in venues perceived to be more accessible and approachable by minority audiences and special efforts must be made to target these audiences through personal visits and specific audience building initiatives.
Location of Project Workshops:
Early County, Jakin
8. Audience Participation
A. Total Number in attendance all sessions=260
B. Audience Profile
Under 12 0%
over 55 56%
High School 30%
C. Represented groups: arts councils, historical Societies, historic preservation specialists, civic leaders, museum staff, traditional artists, educators
Audience Evaluation of Project
The following questionnaire was distributed at the close of each workshop. Summary responses are included:
Audience Evaluation Grant # 98-058G Exploring Community Heritage
Evaluations of GHC projects are critical in providing quality humanities programs. Your thoughtful comments are important contributions to the creation and improvement of public humanities programs in our state. Thank you for your help!
Date and Location of Workshop:
SAMPLE = 90 surveys returned
1. I rate this program (circle one) excellent (67) good (20) fair (3) poor (0)
She stirred me, making me want to think and talk about my memories of 90 years.
It gave us a good way to begin and made people aware of traditions we have.
Didn’t realize the scientific nature of folklore preservation and research.
Comprehensive and thought-provoking
To be introduced to the correct procedure of oral interview was valuable
2. Did the workshop cover topics as advertised? excellent (70) good (19) fair poor
Broad coverage of varied folk activities
3. I would rate the effectiveness of the hand-outs as: very useful (70) useful (18) not useful
Great documents to begin oral history
Excellent examples of material to support discussion topics
4. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the program? How could it have been improved?
Would like to see actual interview in progress, for example
More time for questions, audience involvement
Good knowledge and appreciation of subject
I especially enjoyed meeting people in the area whom I can call on and are interested
The slide presentation gave terrific insight into the different areas of heritage
More emphasis on latest technology for documentation
5. Would you like to see any follow-up programs from the South Georgia Folklife Project? What would be useful/helpful?
Your partnering with a local group
More school projects
Tying oral history to historic preservation building research
More information on minorities
Sharing work done by workshop participants
Sources for technical help: sound recording, archiving
6. Suggestions of traditions or individuals important to community heritage in your area
Other Participant Feedback:
Allow me to thank
for the quality presentation you gave at our Historical Society dinner program last Friday here in
John E. Brown, Ph.D. Historical
Thanks for putting on the workshop last night. There was a good interest by the people present with some good ideas of things they wanted preserved. I’m encouraged to see people that care about the past….I also appreciate the stature that Sacred Harp gained last night among people that can make a difference. Your endorsement sparked some interest among people that would normally not have given it a second glance.
David I. Lee,
Wonderful evening. Thank you so much. The plans to document the last year of turpentining would be benefit enough from such an evening—but I know there will be more projects to come from you. I’m looking forward to all of them…
Thank you so much for allowing the
I was inspired by the many options and suggestions adaptable to local projects.
The program was excellent and fueled my
desire to document cultural traditions, both at the
9. Participating Humanities Scholars
Dr. Laurie Kay
Ms. Teresa Hollingsworth Fl. Div. of Historical Resources, Florida Folklife Program, evaluator
Mr. Henry Rutland,
**Please note: Two additional humanities scholars were listed in the project proposal: Dr. Maggie Holtzberg (GA state folklorist) and Ms. Syd Blackmarr. Dr. Holtzberg left the state to assume another position and a replacement as not named until July, so she was not available to assist in the programs as originally planned. After the grant was awarded, Ms. Blackmarr stepped down as director of the Arts Experiment Station and began her own consulting business. She was unavailable for the workshop dates in this new capacity.
Ms. Gretchen Geisinger, (MA English, VSU) presented the results of an independent study project in conjunction with the South Georgia Folklife Project on culture and community in her hometown of Jakin, Georgia, during a July workshop. Because of the “local connection,” this workshop attracted one of the best audiences, despite its location in a very small town. Geisinger used the techniques of folklife and oral history to explore continuity and change in Jakin from its founding to the present.
Finally, Mr. Henry Rutland, heir to one of south
Georgia’s great fiddling traditions, shared his substantial knowledge on the
history and technique of south Georgia fiddling in
10. Attach Report of Evaluation Committee (see report by Ms. Teresa Hollingsworth)
11. Media Involvement
A. Were media involved in promotion? Yes.
Press releases and PSAs were sent to local newspapers and radio/TV stations. Media sources were identified by the host organizations at each site. Sample newspapers include the following:
Fitzgerald Herald Leader