Magazine article Humanities

From Aaron to Zubly

Magazine article Humanities

From Aaron to Zubly

Article excerpt

The New Georgia Encyclopedia Goes Online

Baseball player Hank Aaron and a Calvinist revolutionary named John Zubly tell Georgia's story from A to Z in the New Georgia Encyclopedia. When the encyclopedia goes online on February 12, it will be the first state reference publication available only as an electronic version.

Although Aaron is not a Georgian by birth, his record-breaking home run was orchestrated to happen in Atlanta, the Braves' hometown. Aaron had finished the 1973 season one hit shy of breaking Babe Ruth's record. According to the encyclopedia, Aaron was kept out of the next season's first game in Cincinnati so that his 715th home run could be at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium: "In the fourth inning he knocked a fastball over the left field fence. . . . The crowded stadium of 53,775 fans erupted in celebration as fireworks went off overhead. . . . Looking back on his struggle to break the record, Aaron said 'Thank God it's over.'"

The encyclopedia tells Aaron's story from his childhood near Mobile, Alabama, to the racial antagonism he faced when he attempted to better Babe Ruth's record, to his retirement from baseball as he became a businessman and community leader in Atlanta. The entry includes text, photographs, and video clips-interviews with Aaron, footage from his games, and Jimmy Carter reminiscing about the historic home run. It also provides links to other websites that contain information about Aaron.

From the start, the Georgia Humanities Council approached the encyclopedia in new ways. "We know people read and search on the Internet differently than they would in a book," says Jamil Zainaldin, executive director of the council. "No one would read a motorcycle manual on screen." So the project styled the articles for the computer reader, giving summary information up front, which could be seen without scrolling down.

"It's just a different kind of beast. The most obvious difference is that when you write an article for a web-based project, when it goes out, it's just the beginning. When you publish a book, that's the finished product." Already the encyclopedia has updated articles with new information, links, and visual materials.

"We wanted to exploit all the multimedia possibilities, including partnerships we could develop with collections such as the Walter J. Brown Media Collection at the University of Georgia or the Georgia Music Hall of Fame." The institutional partners for the encyclopedia include the Office of the Governor, the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia's online library Galileo, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Thirty-five editors and numerous advisors have nurtured the project since its inception in 1998. Editor John Inscoe says, "We sought out the leading authorities in every major field to help us shape those sections, from determining the articles each should include to identifying the experts to write them." At its unveiling, the encyclopedia will include eight hundred articles, cross-referenced and searchable alphabetically or by topic. The categories include archaeology, literature, folklife, science, arts, and cities.

A visitor to the encyclopedia finds that Savannah, the state's oldest city, was a planned community that originally banned slavery within its borders. …

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