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

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.

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, Georgia will be researched using the collections in the Berry College Archives:

  1. The purpose and local consequences of the Sibley Commission,
  2. The creation, work, and significance of the Rome Council on Human Relations,
  3. The genesis and community response to 1963 Rome Sit-In protests, and
  4. 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.”

Humanities Research for the Public Good is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A second cohort of colleges and universities will be selected in 2020. For more information, visitwww.cic.edu/programs/Public-Humanities.