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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five Reasons Why I Delve into Douglas County's History


Here I sit patiently waiting for the first blog post for 2014 to come to me. I’m in my office I have set up for myself over the last few months. It’s still a bit junky.  I’m still trying to decorate, organize, and work all at the same time, but finally I’m here at the desk facing the front windows with the afternoon sun splashing over my desk providing a bit of warmth on such a frigid day.  I sit and wait.

The cursor on the computer screen blinks out its hello as if to say, “I’m here waiting for you. <blink> When are you going to type? <blink> I’m ready. Are you? <blink> Hello?<blink> <blink> <blink>……It's as annoying as a little yapping dog.
Sometimes the things I write are meticulously planned out for weeks.  For example, I already know what I’m writing about for the Sentinel column for the next couple of weeks.  However there are times when I don’t have a clue until right before my deadline, and then it hits like a ton of bricks and the words flow from my fingertips so fast I fear I might drop a few. Then there are times like today where my mind is everywhere all at once, and nothing in my notes is raising its hand begging to be noticed.

So, maybe it’s time for a bit of gratitude. Perhaps I should take the time here at the beginning of a new year to examine what it is I do, and why I do it.
Sometimes even I question the whole thing.

I exhaust myself researching Douglas County history because it’s rich and vibrant. The county was formed in 1870 at the cusp of all things Old South and as all things New South was revving up. I liken it to the “perfect storm” of ingredients for a New South town during Reconstruction.  I know of very few counties and county seats such as Douglasville where you can examine the New South philosophy put into play as both the county and town were developing. We have something very special here.
I do what I do because I love uncovering a great story.   Finding things out piece by piece, suddenly understanding how they all dovetail and fit together in order to create the larger picture – that’s what I  find captivating about Douglas County history.  I’ve been teaching and/or writing about history in general for several years, but now to have “my own little laboratory of history” to work with, that’s familiar yet not familiar – that’s what keeps me going.

I delve into the history of Douglas County in order to add to the historical record.  I don’t research the history, visit with people, and write anything in order to replace any of the historical record that has already been published. As my blog tagline states and as the heading on the Facebook page indicates my number one aim is to bring Douglas County history to a 21st Century audience. Social media can be a nightmare if not handled properly, but I like to think that it’s a great tool for educating people. It enables people of all ages to see the history, read the history, and most importantly to share the history.  What better time is it than now when we can ride the wave of nostalgia that so many in the Baby Boomer generation are feeling as they reconnect on sites like Facebook or Google +, and then share what they re-discover with their children and grandchildren.
The backstory would be just too much fun to miss out on.  The situations I find myself in during the process, the personalities I meet, and the stories surrounding the history are almost as entertaining as the history itself.  I wish I could share some of them. Believe it or not there is a mad dance called the “politics of history” where at times you most court the folks who control the history in order to access and share the history with the folks who actually own it. The owners in this case being the citizens of Douglas County. 

I research Douglas County history because I’m a bit selfish.  As many may already know I grew up in Red Oak which is a little community in South Fulton County between College Park and Fairburn.  It is my dear sweet home. My strong connection to Douglas County history stems from  two important factors. The first being the fact that I have lived here in this county for close to 30 years, while the second factor has to do with Red Oak itself. Red Oak, like Douglas County was once part of Campbell County, so all of the history I learned as a girl growing up in Red Oak from longtime residents just created the historical bridge for me to cross into Douglas County history. 
It seems that it was my course to follow all along, and I plan to stay on that course for a long time to come.  

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