“From Civil War to Civil Rights: A History of the National Park System in Georgia”

On August 25th, 2016, the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th year of preserving America’s natural and cultural resources. At its inception in 1916, the Park Service managed thirty five sites. Since then, the number has grown to more than 400 parks, which host more than 280,000,000 annual visits. The parks of the state of Georgia comprise a significant element of this system. Georgia hosts eleven major sites that are under either direct stewardship of, or are partnered with, the National Park Service. These sites draw almost 7.5 million visitors a year, and National Park tourism in Georgia generates an average of $378,000,000 in annual economic benefits. Using the Omeka and Neatline platforms this project—titled “From Civil War to Civil Rights: A History of the National Park System in Georgia”—will build an interactive map and history of Georgia’s National Parks to help commend this achievement.

While the website for Georgia’s National Parks already has an interactive map, it can still be improved upon. The current map offers pop-up links that provide a brief description of National Historic Sites. The site does not, however, include the Arabia Mountain, Augusta Canal, or Gullah Geechee National Heritage Areas, or sites of the Trail of Tears. In its present state, the map offers a brief guide to National Historic Sites. This project will create a more elaborate version, which not only offers photo essays of individual historic sites, but provides a timeline of the history of the Park Service in Georgia. The current site offers potential visitors a brief overview. This project will celebrate the National Park Service’s contribution to the state by tracking its development and highlighting each place’s unique historic landscape.

As a model, this project will base itself on “Perspectives on the Haram”, a Neatline and Omeka exhibit designed by undergraduates at the University of Virginia. “Perspectives on the Haram” offers an interactive map and timeline that tracks the history of the Haram Mosque in Mecca through accounts of pilgrims, which range from 900 C.E. to present day. Viewers can access these accounts in two ways, either through the timeline or via a navigation pane on the right-hand side of the page. Each entry highlights a different part of the mosque on the map and opens a new pane with a description of each pilgrim’s account.

“From Civil War to Civil Rights” endeavors to do something more modest. A timeline of Georgia’s National Parks will be linked to a map of Georgia. Users can click on a site to open a photo essay of each park. For the purposes of this course, the site will focus on two sites: Andersonville and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Each photo essay will be based, in part, on written histories of the National Park Service, but much of the content will also derive from my own visits to and photographs of the sites themselves. New essays will be added to the project, until all eleven sites have been included. Andersonville and the M.L.K., Jr. N.H.S. will be complete by April 19, 2017. The remaining sites will be complete by December, 2017. Hopefully, this project will provide a new guide to the National Park system in Georgia, and what these sites offer to the state’s rich historical landscape.

—Will Greer

Bibliography:

Bearss, Edwin C. Andersonville National Historic Site: Historic Resource Study and Historical Base Map. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of History and Historic Architecture, Eastern Service Center, 1970.
“Brief History of the National Parks – Mapping the National Parks.” The Library of Congress. Accessed March 08, 2016. https://www.loc.gov/collection/national-parks-maps/articles-and-
essays/brief-history-of-the-national-parks/.
Dilsaver, Lary M. America’s National Park System : The Critical Documents. Lanham, Md.: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, 1997.
Mackintosh, Barry. The National Parks: Shaping the System. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1991.
Meringolo, Denise D. Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.
“National Park Service History.” National Park Service History. Accessed March 08, 2016. http://npshistory.com/.
Runte, Alfred. National Parks: The American Experience. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1979.
United States. National Park Service. “Georgia (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service. 2016. Accessed March 08, 2016. http://www.nps.gov/state/ga/index.htm.
United States National Park Service. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Georgia: I Have a Dream. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1990.

Photo Credits:

Unknown Soldier’s Grave, Andersonville: author photo.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Gravesite: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5
/5e/Tombstone_for_Martin_Luther_King_%26_Coretta_Scott_King_at_MLK_Historic_Site_in_Atlanta.JPG

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