Berry College selected for public humanities initiative

Student researcher Cameron Mallett (seated) and Christy Snider, associate professor of history, search documents in the Berry College archive.

Berry College is one of 25 colleges nationwide selected to participate in the Humanities Research for the Public Good initiative.

Berry College Associate History Professor Christy Snider said the project will highlight some of the significant events and residents of Rome involved in the local struggle to achieve racial justice and interracial harmony in the 1950s through the 1960s. Relying primarily on the John R. Bertrand and John A. Sibley papers housed in the Berry College Archives, Cameron Mallett, a history and secondary education double-major, will lead a small team of undergraduate students in producing a portable exhibit, lesson plans and workshop materials for use primarily by the Rome City School System.

This project will expose young community members whose civic, political and social awareness is still developing to the value of commitments to the public good, Snider said.

“At a time when controversies over Civil War monuments, Black Lives Matter protests and voter suppression charges dominate our public discourse, the awareness that difficult issues have been addressed successfully in the recent past through cooperative efforts of citizens to promote racial harmony, understanding and social justice at the local level is of the greatest import for our community,” Snider said.

Four main subject areas related to the Civil Rights Movement in Rome will be researched using the collections in the Berry College Archives, including the purpose and local consequences of the Sibley Commission; the creation, work and significance of the Rome Council on Human Relations; the genesis and community response to 1963 Rome sit-in protests; and the causes and results of racial integration at Berry College.

When announcing the initiative, CIC President Richard Ekman said, “Independent colleges are stronger when they share their resources with their communities — and so are their communities. Those resources often include significant archival or library collections that can illuminate issues of real public importance. The institutions selected for the initiative, including Berry College, will have much to share with their communities.”

The Council of Independent Colleges’ initiative is an effort to promote student research at private colleges and universities, address issues of public significance and showcase the rich archival, library and museum collections held by participating institutions.

Participants were selected through a highly competitive application process. Humanities Research for the Public Good is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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