The Reinhardt University history program is hosting its second annual symposium, taking on several topics in “Intertwining Gold, Religion and Education in Northern Georgia.”
The regional history symposium is March 22 and 23 on Reinhardt’s campus in Waleska and is supported by Reinhardt University History Program and by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia Assembly.
“At Reinhardt University, we are excited about our upcoming symposium,” said Dr. Ken Wheeler, professor of history and symposium coordinator. “The talks will help us think about the fascinating combinations of pragmatism and idealism, the combination of the secular and the sacred, as we discuss the intersections of gold mining, religion, and the development of education in northern Georgia.”
Wheeler said participants will explore the ambitions and dilemmas of 19th-century Georgians living in the gold fields, learn about the interplay of gold mining, kinship and religious networks as ingredients in the creation of the North Georgia educational landscape, and the intriguing mixture of motivations and methods in the growth of schools in North Georgia.
“Bits and pieces of these stories may be known to some people, but most of what participants will hear represents new scholarship and new ways of looking at our history. Between the dramatic readings, the lectures, and the panelist responses, the event promises to be both enlightening and a lot of fun. It is hard to think of anything comparable to this event, and we hope members of the public will come join us for the symposium,” he said.
On March 22, the symposium will begin at 3:30 p.m. with a featured address by Wheeler — “Waleska as Epicenter: Gold-seeking Methodists and the Development of Emory, Reinhardt and Young Harris Colleges.”
All symposium activities are in the Bannister Glasshouse in the Hasty Student Life Center, unless otherwise noted.
Wheeler’s address will be followed by an optional dinner at 5 p.m. in the nearby Gordy Center for $6.50 per person.
At 7 p.m., members of Reinhardt Theatre will present, “Echoes of Cherokee County,” dramatic readings from selected primary historical documents, produced by Dr. Kevin Crawford, Reinhardt professor of English and theater.
“After gathering a good deal of material, readers in the cast chose their selections with one simple directive from me: that we present as many aspects of North Georgian life as possible and not shy away from anything ‘uncomfortable,’” Crawford said. “Audiences will hear of the generally pleasant (gold, school and church building), the extremely unpleasant (racism, forced removal of indigenous peoples), the unintentionally or grotesquely humorous (lost hogs, cannibalism), and pre-Civil War fiery political rhetoric.”
The Symposium will continue on Saturday, March 23, with continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m.
At 9 a.m., Dr. Jennifer Lund Smith, associate professor of history at North Georgia College and State University, will provide the featured address, “Emancipation & Education in ‘Them Thar Hills’: Schools & North Georgia After the Civil War.”
A panel discussion of “Understanding the Intertwinings” at 10 a.m. will feature panelists Dr. Jonathan Atkins, Berry College; Dr. Tene Harris Davis, Georgia State University; and Wheeler, who will share remarks & answer audience questions.
Wheeler is the author of “Cultivating Regionalism,” a book on regional identity and the history of education. Recently he presented papers and published an article on the development of northern Georgia.
He has also delivered scholarly papers on the antebellum iron industry in the Etowah Valley to the American Historical Association, the Georgia Association of Historians & the Southern Industrialization Project.
Smith has just completed a term as president of the Georgia Association of Historians. She earned a doctoral degree from the University of Georgia, where she researched the creation of educational institutions for blacks and whites in late 19th century Georgia. Her publications include chapters in two books: “Georgia in Black & White” and
Crawford is a published Elizabethan scholar and accomplished actor. With the assistance of local historian and Reinhardt alumnus G. Richard Wright and Wheeler, he has created a set of dramatic readings drawn from local historical sources that provide insight into the settlement and development of Cherokee County from the 1820s to the 1860s.
The event is free, and the public is encouraged to attend. To register, visit the online registration page at www.reinhardt.edu/historysymposium or call (770) 720-5943.