Students apply graphic communications lessons to Special Collections Libraries research

The graphics projects that many students design in the typical Graphics Communications class may be viewed by a handful of students and by the professor. However, the projects in Kristen Smith’s introductory graphics class this semester have the opportunity for not only a much broader audience, but also a richer research process, as well.

Smith, a senior lecturer in public relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, is leading her students in a special session of the graphics class that is working with the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries. Students were asked to design posters that will be displayed during the annual Spotlight on the Arts festival in November.

Designed by Chelsea Jenkins

The exhibit, “Designing History: Posters Exploring Twentieth Century Design Styles & the UGA Special Collections Libraries Archives,” will feature 24”x36” mounted posters designed by each student based on research they conducted in the library’s permanent collection.

The inspiration for the poster project came after Smith served as an inaugural Special Collections Libraries Faculty Fellow last year. The fellowship program was created by the libraries and the Center for Teaching and Learning to educate university professors about how they could incorporate the collections into their classroom lessons. The fellowship funds classroom projects created using the collections and resources at the library.

“The goal of the poster project was to provide a deep understanding of a local or national treasure, and depending on their project, where that person or thing fits into not only history, but design history,” Smith said.

The assignment features visuals and text about topics in special collections including, but not limited to, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress; Erté, notably known as the “Father of Art Deco;” Jackson EMC, which led the way in making electricity available in rural areas of north Georgia; and Fred Birchmore, an Athens, Georgia, native who rode his bike around the world.

Designed by Maddie Shae

Chelsea Jenkins, a public relations major from Covington, Georgia, chose to profile Birchmore for her project. Jenkins’s poster features a picture of Birchmore with his bicycle, which he called Bucephalus. She also included a couple of paragraphs that depict his life and some sites he encountered throughout his trek.

“The biggest challenge I faced was trying to incorporate how far Birchmore traveled into the poster,” Jenkins said. “My original idea was to have a map of some of the places he explored as the background of the poster. While that idea didn’t really work out, I feel as though we get a snippet of what he did and where he went in the paragraphs I’ve included.”

Typically, the AdPR 3520 Graphics Communications class spends the entire semester learning about basic principles of design, typography and graphics software. This special class has the same goals, but also applies a focus on learning 20th century design styles, and broadens their resources through using the Special Collections Libraries to understand design styles.

“I have really enjoyed the hands-on experience of working in the Special Collections library,” said student Jamie Yale, a junior public relations major, who chose to profile Spanish artist José de Zamora. “We were given a lot of freedom when creating this poster, from selection of the artist to use of design principles, and I think this really helped me independently create one of my first graphic design posters.”

Designed by Kaitlyn Yarborough

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the special focus graphics class was the knowledge that the Special Collections Libraries is there and has an array of resources.

Kaitlyn Yarborough, a senior journalism student from Albany, Georgia, profiled naturalist and artist John Abbot based on a large book he illustrated that she saw at the library.

“I had never entered the Special Collections Library until this project,” Yarborough said, “and, I discovered that it houses some really interesting collections on the history of Georgia, from Native American artifacts to vintage cheerleading uniforms from the university. It has a huge array of cool things that I would never have known about otherwise.”

The student posters will be on display on the third floor of Grady College during Spotlight on the Arts Nov. 2 – 18. This is the first year that Grady College is participating in Spotlight on the Arts.

Panel commemorates 50th anniversary of Foxfire

In honor of its 50th anniversary, a panel will discuss “Foxfire at Fifty: Stories of Culture” on Oct. 26, at 11:15 a.m. at the University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.

The panel is sponsored by the Office of Outreach, Engagement, and Service in the College of Education; Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication; and the Special Collections Libraries.

“The Foxfire Magazine” is a bi-annual publication written by students at Rabun Gap High School in Tiger, Georgia, about the community, culture and citizens in southern Appalachia. The magazine was created 50 years ago to engage English students in writing about subjects of interest to them. Over the years, Foxfire has expanded to include a book collection of anthologies and a museum, as well.

“At the Grady College, we talk a lot about the power of story and about the importance of community,” said Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism and the moderator of the Foxfire panel. “Foxfire is a perfect example of both, and also shows how oral history can preserve our cultural history.”

Panelists will discuss the importance of the program and its innovative techniques grounded in learning from community resources and its impact on audiences that extends outside the Rabun County region. They will also cover how Foxfire has evolved and grown in the past decades.

Panelists include:

Carl Glickman is professor emeritus of education at UGA. He is the founder the Georgia League of Professional Schools, a nationally validated network of kindergarten to 12th-grade schools devoted to democratic learning of all students. Glickman serves on the Foxfire Board and co-chairs the Education Committee. He has authored thirteen books and more than one hundred articles, including the recent essay in “Phi Delta Kappan,” entitled “Whatever happened to Foxfire?”

Christian Lopez is the lead Oral History and Media Archivist at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the Special Collections Libraries. Lopez is an active member of the Oral History Association and also serves on the editorial board of Oral History in the Digital Age, a clearinghouse of practice, theory, and evolving methodologies contributed to by practitioners across the country.

Katie Lunsford is a senior at UGA majoring in athletic training. A Rabun County native, Katie wrote for the “Foxfire” magazine throughout her high school career and continues to work with “Foxfire,” contributing to the 45th Anniversary Book and writing for the 50th Anniversary Book. Katie plans to further her education in the medical field to become a physician and return to Rabun County to serve her home community.

“We are delighted to help celebrate the anniversary of this unique and influential program,” said Hume.

Parking for off campus visitors will be available in the Hull Street Deck across from the Special Collections Library. For more information on the panel, contact Janice Hume at or 706-542-5980.

The Walter J. Brown Media Archive & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Libraries is also home of the Foxfire collection of videotapes. There are about 1,100 tapes in this collection, which includes interviews and photographs. The Special Collections Libraries are also hosting “Foxfire: 50 years of Cultural Journalism Documenting folk Life in the North Georgia Mountains,” through December 16, 2016. This exhibit uses photos and artifacts, including textiles, homemade toys and tools and a moonshine still, to illustrate how Foxfire has documented folk life and customs.

Visit to learn more about Foxfire.