Virtual Book Talk with Award-Winning Writer Libby Copeland

Thursday, October 29th at 2:00 pm

Join Libby Copeland for a discussion of her new book, The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are.

In The Lost Family, journalist Libby Copeland investigates what happens when we embark on a vast social experiment with little understanding of the ramifications. Copeland explores the culture of genealogy buffs, the science of DNA, and the business of companies like Ancestry and 23andMe, all while tracing the story of one woman, her unusual results, and a relentless methodical drive for answers that becomes a thoroughly modern genetic detective story.

Libby Copeland is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Washington Post, New York magazine, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and many other publications. She specializes in the intersection of science and culture. Copeland was a reporter and editor at the Post for eleven years, has been a media fellow and guest lecturer, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.

This live event will be viewable on the Augusta Public Library’s YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter sites. Attendees will be able to ask Ms. Copeland questions and participate in the discussion.

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Decades of episodes of Augusta, Georgia’s pioneering African American gospel television program Parade of Quartets now available freely online

ATHENS, Ga. — Decades of episodes of Augusta, Georgia’s pioneering African American gospel television program Parade of Quartets now available freely online

The Digital Library of Georgia has partnered with the Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Libraries to digitize part of its collection of Parade of Quartets. This gospel program has aired on WJBF-TV in Augusta, Georgia, for more than 50 years. The collection is available at

The footage, which documents decades of regional gospel music performances, religious practices, and political activities. Ruta Abolins, director of the Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, notes that these materials are “part of the largest collection of gospel performance footage at any North American library.”

Parade of Quartets, broadcast on WJBF-TV in Augusta, Georgia since 1954, is a rare example of a sustained African American media presence on a southern television affiliate. Hundreds of well-known Black gospel musicians such as Shirley Caesar, Dottie Peoples, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Dixie Hummingbirds, and the Swanee Quintet have appeared on the program. In the last few decades, the program’s content has expanded to include local and national African American political leaders’ appearances. Some of them appear in the digitized materials, which cover the period from 1980 to 2011.

This content serves the study of gospel music, religious broadcasting, African American programming, African American community outreach and organization, local television programming, African American politicians, entertainment, musicology, performance studies, African American studies, Southern studies, civil rights history, journalism and media studies, and business.

Dr. Barbara McCaskill, professor of English, associate academic director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, and co-director of the Civil Rights Digital Library at the University of Georgia said that the collection of shows documents a broad spectrum of essential aspects of life for African Americans in the South.

“The name ‘Parade’ in the program’s title alludes to the pageant tradition in Afro-Protestant churches. At Christmas, Easter, and church anniversaries, youth and adults perform brief skits of Bible parables and lessons, sing spirituals, and recite Bible verses,” she said. “Rooted in this important Afro-Protestant pageant tradition, which combines oration, song, and performance in a unique form of worship, Parade of Quartets exemplifies how black Christians used the new medium of television to agitate for social change and honor their communities, as well as showcasing local and regional black gospel artists.

“Secular-themed church pageants commemorate the patriotism and military service of African American men and women. Additionally, they laud the contributions of African American individuals, communities, and organizations,” she explained. “Many of the artists who guested on the show pitched advertisements for black-owned businesses. So Parade of Quartets is also valuable evidence that southern African Americans recognized the power of television to build community wealth and multi-generational financial stability.”

McCaskill concludes, “For its connections to the Afro-Protestant pageant tradition, its dual functions as an example of musical innovation and civil rights activism, and its effectiveness as a lever for African American business growth, Parade of Quartets is a national treasure.”

Karlton Howard, who has produced and hosted Parade of Quartets for more than thirty years, adds: “The Howard Family and Parade of Quartets are eternally grateful to the Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection for the gift of preserving portions of the video history of Parade of Quartets. Your kindness will ensure that the culture of the African American gospel quartet will be enjoyed and cherished for generations to come.”

Link to featured images:

Parade of Quartets. [1995-02-14]

Parade of Quartets. [1998-03-22]

About the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection is home to more than 90,000 titles and 5,000,000 feet of news film, making it the third-largest broadcasting archive in the country, behind only the Library of Congress and UCLA. The Archives comprise moving image and sound collections that focus on American television and radio broadcasting, and the music, folklore, and history of Georgia. There are more than 50,000 television programs and more than 39,500 radio programs in the Archives, in addition to audio folk music field tapes and home movies from rural Georgia. Their mission is to preserve, protect, and provide access to the moving image and sound materials that reflect the collective memory of broadcasting and the history of the state of Georgia and its people. Learn more at

About the Digital Library of Georgia

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia is a GALILEO initiative that collaborates with Georgia’s libraries, archives, museums and other institutions of education and culture to provide access to key information resources on Georgia history, culture, and life. This primary mission is accomplished through the ongoing development, maintenance, and preservation of digital collections and online digital library resources. DLG also serves as Georgia’s service hub for the Digital Public Library of America and as the home of the Georgia Newspaper Project, the state’s historic newspaper microfilming project. Visit the DLG at

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Memorial Day is for remembering

Whether officer or enlisted, every man and woman who has entered military service has made such a vow. For most, obeying the orders of the President (and others appointed over as applicable) amounts to going to work each day and doing your job. But there have been times throughout our nation’s history when following orders meant a whole lot more. This Memorial Day, we remember those who followed orders to the ultimate end: their sacrifice for our nation’s freedoms. As one August Chronicle journalist stated in the tribute he wrote for a fallen soldier during World War I:

“I do not feel that our citizens pay enough attention to the deaths of the soldiers from our city and county occurring abroad. A hundred years from now, when generations as yet unborn are reaping the benefits of the labors and sacrifices of all the men who perish for liberty and justice in the great world war, the historians will find no words rich enough with which to recount the noble deeds wrought by the soldiers of our land and country who were called to take active part and to shed their life’s blood in this great holocaust of war. Why wait a hundred years to honor their memories? It is meet and proper to do it now – to do it today.” [Augusta Chronicle, 19 July 1918, p. 4 col. 4]

How can we do this? By capturing and telling their stories. Through resources like (which PINES library card holders can access from home during the COVID-19 lock downs), and (s subscription site that frequently has free access during significant military holidays) thousands of records on military services members are accessible online, each providing a snippet of information that can be used to weave the narrative of a life lived and sacrificed.

Combining these records with the history of the units they served in, articles published in newspapers (many of which can be found in the Digital Library of Georgia’s Historical Newspaper Database), and resources provided by institutions such as Digital Public Library of America, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives, can help bring that service member’s story to life.

As Noble Prize winning poet Czesław Miłosz said in his novel The Issa Valley, “The living owe it to those who can no longer speak to tell their story for them.”

This Memorial Day let us do all we can to honor the heroes who gave all for the protection of our freedoms.

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Fugitive Slave Notices in the Augusta Chronicle

They were far from home and fearful of all. Already one of their number had been captured. As Bachus, Duke, and Prince hid in the swamps and marshes of what is now Jasper County, South Carolina that hot September day in 1792, these bound men knew they did not want to return to a life of slavery. It is not known at this time what became of the three men. Perhaps they were recaptured and returned to their owner, Justus H Scheuber. Maybe they evaded capture and integrated themselves with what became the Gullah community of African slaves in the South Carolina Low Country. But the possibilities of discovering their fates is just one of the reasons why the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System’s Georgia Heritage Room has started compiling a collection of fugitive slave notices published during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the Augusta Chronicle.

The noble experiment of keeping Georgia free of slave labor ended with a royal decree in 1751 and by the time of the American Revolution, slavery was firmly entrenched as a way of life in the newly formed state. The Augusta Chronicle, long reputed to be one of the oldest running newspapers in the state, carried advertisements of runaway slaves from its earliest days. Descriptions of runways littered the pages of the newspaper, providing a wealth of information on individuals that might otherwise have never been documented. Names, ages, physical descriptions, family relationships, previous owners or places they lived are included to help identify the fugitives, as owners attempted to recover their “property.”

Under the institution of American slavery, enslaved human being, were defined in economic terms, seen as property and sometimes referred to as chattel, necessary to the smooth functioning of the plantation, a system that existed only because of their labor. Nowhere in the equation did humanity enter into the picture. A slave went on the run for myriad reasons, the most obvious being the horrific cruelty inflicted under the system of slavery, but no matter the reason, a fugitive slave was ultimately a financial hit to the slave owner so he or she (in the case of a female slave owner) would stop at nothing to get the slave back. For this reason, the fugitive slave notices that appeared in newspapers all over the county, including papers in the Northeast, were highly descriptive. Ironically, the attention to detail that slave owners hoped would result in the return of their property today has the potential to teach historians more about the lives of slaves, and for African-Americans searching for ancestors, another avenue of inquiry.

Each runaway notice is a small biography recording the life and humanity of someone who otherwise is lost to history.

Augusta Chronicle 25 April 1807

A recurring theme throughout most of the notices is one of brutality, indicated by the physical details slave owners used to describe the fugitive slave. In the advertisement above, Bob is described as having “a large scar over his right eyebrow, another on his left arm near his shoulder.” Most likely these scars are the result of the beatings that were part and parcel of daily life on the plantation. A few lines down we are told that he, “Had on an Iron Collar around his neck.” It is this incessant brutality that motivated many to flee, risking their lives to escape the violence.

15 May 1802 Augusta Chronicle

Women too ran away, and children. Many, if not all, of the notices detail the garments the slaves were wearing when they fled, in addition to items they may have carried off. Above we learn that Rachel wore, “a muslin short gown, flounced, white humhums coat, and a jockey beaver hat.” Humhum was a coarse plain cotton cloth, historically used in the making of towels, and imported from India. In the area of textile history, the notices give a fascinating look into the fabrics produced and used during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, providing another useful resource for historians studying this period.

We also read that Rachel was only seventeen, and seemingly alone when she ran, and is “forward with child.” What sort of desperation caused this young woman to run? Was she fleeing an abusive master who raped and assaulted her, leaving her with child, or was she attempting to reunite with the father of the child who was possibly sold off to another plantation. Both are very likely scenarios within the context of slavery. Heartbreakingly, families were routinely separated when slave owners sold off family members to distant plantations; or upon the death of a plantation owner, estates were liquidated and slaves could be portioned off to heirs or sold apart to pay off debts.

Augusta Chronicle 28 October 1809
Augusta Chronicle 2 April 1799

The plantation system was a business enterprise, and many slaves were skilled tradesmen and craftspeople, contributing to the overall success of the plantation. Those who ran off, taking with them a skill or craft integral to the daily machinations of the household were especially sought after. The slave, Harriot “was a house servant and can spin on the Cotton and Linnen Wheel, she is a good hand in a Loom, both for double and single Cloth.” Sometimes slaves with specialty trades, such as blacksmithing or in the case of Ralph, “a cooper and shoemaker,” were hired out to other plantations, giving them an open opportunity to run, which many took advantage of.

These notices are just a few examples of the nearly 750 the Georgia Heritage Room staff has currently amassed dating back to 1786. The scope of the project is expected to run through 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified and slavery was officially abolished throughout the United States.

It is estimated that over 200,000 fugitive slave notices appeared in newspapers all over the country from the mid-part of the eighteenth century well into the Civil War. Of these 200,000 notices, nothing else is written about the individual lives of these human beings. In an attempt to bring their stories to light many institutions including the Library of Congress and Cornell University have collected notices and made them accessible to the public. Here are a few more examples from our own collection:

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1970 Augusta Riot

Augusta Chronicle, 12 May 1970

Fifty years ago in mid-May of 1970, Augusta suffered one of the most violent chapters in its history. The brutal murder of a sixteen year old Black teenager named Charles Oatman inside a city jail, ignited a powder keg of long-standing racial tension which had been building in the city for generations, resulting in several days of violent and incendiary rioting. When the fires died down, and the city took count, an estimated $1 million in property damage had occurred, and sixty people were left wounded by police gunfire.

Six unarmed men were killed by police, all shot in the back. The names of the men were: Charlie Mack Murphy, William Wright, Jr., Sammy McCullough, John Stokes, John Bennett, and Mack Wilson.

In observance of this traumatic event in Augusta’s history, the 1970 Augusta Riot Committee has organized events beginning on Saturday, May 9th all over the city in an attempt to bring awareness and ultimately healing to a community that continues to live in the aftermath of this tragedy.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the events have been made virtual, and can be viewed from home. Please visit to learn more about the project and how to participate.

In 2012, the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library partnered with the Augusta Chinese American Benevolent Association of Augusta, Georgia on an oral history project to interview several elders in the Augusta Chinese-American community about their experiences immigrating and living in Augusta. Several of those interviewed owned businesses that were destroyed during the 1970 Augusta Riot, and offer a unique perspective on how their lives and the larger Augusta Chinese-American community were affected. If you’d like to listen these interviews, visit the Digital Library of Georgia website:

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Mother’s Day Memories

Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10! Take a little time out of your day to preserve some memories of your loving mother or maybe your grandmother or a beloved aunt. Bond with them over a FaceTime call, and ask questions about their cherished memories. Celebrate all the mothers in your life by telling their stories. Here’s a great FamilySearch resource to help you out.

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Stories from the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic from the Library of Congress Ethnographic Collections

Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas (1918). Original image from National Museum of Health and Medicine. 

Continuing our celebration of Preservation Week 2020, today we are exploring how the Federal Writer’s Project of the Works Progress Administration documented stories during the Great Depression of everyday people who lived through the 1818 Spanish Flu pandemic. We have these stories today because they have been preserved by the Library of Congress.

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Celebrate Preservation Week with the Augusta Public Library

Now in its tenth year, Preservation Week April 26 – May 20, 2020 promotes the role of libraries, and other institutions in preserving personal and public collections, and treasures. This year’s theme is preserving oral histories. An oral history is a recorded interview of an individual with personal knowledge of past events; for example, an interview with a WWII veteran about his or her wartime experiences. Oral histories are an important way for historians to gather first hand accounts of events to preserve for future generations. Genealogists too can use oral history as a way to document family history and capture memories before they are lost. If you are interested in knowing more about your ancestors, don’t wait until it’s too late. Start interviewing your family members now. Anyone can conduct an oral interview and has a wonderful wiki article detailing how to do so.

All of us are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so this might be a great starting point for conducting an oral interview with your relatives, which you can then preserve for your children, grandchildren, and future generations. Do you have a health care worker in your family who is on the front lines of the pandemic, or a relative in high school who is missing his or her senior prom? Everyone has a story to tell because we are all experiencing the pandemic in our own way. Nothing is too mundane. It’s important to record these stories for your own personal history, your family history, and for the history of our community.

If you’d like to share your story, think about including it in the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System’s COVID-19 Community Documentation Project. Learn more about the project here:

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National Library Week Digital Scavenger Hunt Part 2

We hope you enjoyed the first part of the Digital Scavenger Hunt. As promised, here is part 2. This time we will be focusing on the digital archives of the Augusta Chronicle.

If you’d like to share your results or have any questions about accessing the Augusta Chronicle digital archives please email the Georgia Room at

Thanks for playing along!

Augusta Chronicle Digital Archives
What were the headline articles on the day of your birth?
Find James Brown’s obituary and tribute.
Find an article reporting the total number of deaths in Augusta from the Spanish flu at the end of 1918.
Find the obituary for a friend or loved one who lived in Augusta.
Find an article that reported the sinking of the Titanic.
Find an article about one of the libraries in the East Central Georgia Regional Library System.

Next Level Challenges –
Search your home address, and see if anything of interest has happened there over the years.
Find an advertisement for one of the various “medicines” that were used to treat non-serious ailments during the early part of the twentieth century.
Find a legal notice in the Richmond County Neighbors section of the newspaper.
In the 1920s the Augusta Chronicle featured a column titled, “Notes Among the Colored” that reported on the activities of the African American community in Augusta. Who wrote “Notes Among the Colored?”

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The Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System COVID-19 Community Documentation Project

We are living through a historic moment, and the Georgia Heritage Room of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System (ARCPLS) wants to preserve this momentous event for our community’s historical record. To do so, we are asking the community to share their impressions and experiences of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and changed their lives.

The type of information we are seeking is written documentation, personal stories, photographs (images), audio recordings and video clips, which will be collected into an archive chronicling the pandemic in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) so future generations can look back and better understand this period.

While everyone is urged to participate, as we are all in this together, we are particularly interested in the stories of first responders, medical professionals, hospitality workers, small business owners, military, and students. Because Augusta has a strong medical infrastructure, as well as a military presence with Fort Gordon and the NSA, and is home to the Augusta National, we welcome documentation that address these subjects.

By submitting content you agree to the following terms:

Contributors to the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library Pandemic Project will retain copyright of their material but grant permission and license to the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System to use the materials for educational and display purposes which may include both physical and online exhibition.

ARCPLS reserves the right to decline submissions that do not adhere to the purposes of this project, or follow the terms of agreement.

Please only submit content you have created. If you are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must submit material on your behalf.

Do not include sensitive personal health information about yourself, or other people.

For those with Google accounts, click here.

If you do not have a Google account, you can fill out the form here.

If you have any additional questions about the project please email the Georgia Room at

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