Saturday, November 6, 2010

Archives and Publics: McCaskill + Jones

In this Archives and Publics post, AARL's Archives Division brings you an update on Dr. Barbara McCaskill's ongoing research into the life of J. (Joseph) Richardson Jones, a cinematographer, photographer, and reporter for the Atlanta Daily World.   It's a reminder not only of the detective-like nature of research, but also its collaborative quality.

In the screen shot below, McCaskill e-mails Toby Graham and Sheila McAlister of the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) about a discovery in the Charles Douglass Business Records at the Middle Georgia Archives and how it relates to DLG's holdings. Through much sleuthing, McCaskill was able to accurately identify a Joseph Jones from a handbill in DLG's repository as J. Richardson Jones. 

The trace led McCaskill, along with Christina Davis and JoyEllen Freeman, to look for holdings in Florida that document Jones's early childhood in Jacksonville, as well as associations in black vaudeville and the LaVilla community, once known as the "Harlem of the South." A research visit is forthcoming. Then it was back to archives in Georgia, where the team visited Emory University's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) and uncovered important genealogical information about Jones through the Hanley's Bell Funeral Home Records. 

In February next year, McCaskill and team will present their research at the Southern American Studies Association conference in Atlanta.  

J. Richardson Jones's story continues to unfold, and AARL is happy to be a part in the recovery of a little-known past. Stay tuned for more.

Here is news to celebrate.  After reading the post, Dr. McCaskill responded by e-mail with the following:

"This weekend UGA's Civil Rights Digital Library received the Helen and Milton Schwartz Prize for outstanding projects in the Humanities at the national conference of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. Our research on Jones is an outgrowth of research projects for the CRDL. Also, Christina was a paid R.A. for the CRDL for one year. The timing of this prize is especially meaningful to those of us at UGA, since in January we will commemorate the 50-year anniversary of UGA's desegregation by Charlayne Hunter, Hamilton Holmes, and Mary Frances Early." 

AARL sends heartfelt congratulations!

Posted by Wesley Chenault, Library Research Associate


  1. This is a great post, Wesley! I've forwarded it to my colleagues here at Emory. The funeral home records are a wonderful resource.

  2. Thanks, Laura, for the comment. That collection is truly invaluable. By the way, I edited the post, adding MARBL for accuracy.

  3. What a great post! And congratulations to the CRDL group on the award. It's nice to see such a terrific project (with great people!) get some recognition.