September events at UGA Special Collections Libraries Celebrate Preservation on Georgia’s Coast

Submitted by Camie on

Scholars and advocates working to preserve coastal communities in Georgia for future generations will visit the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries this month.

Maurice Bailey will discuss the revival of heritage crops and preserving the culture, heritage, and traditions of the Saltwater Geechee people on Sapelo Island on Sept. 19, as he delivers the Russell Library for Political Research and Studies’ fourth annual Food, Power, and Politics Lecture. That event comes a week after David Hurst Thomas’s Sept. 14 visit. Hurst, an archaeologist, discovered the ruins of a Franciscan mission and artifacts of Indigenous culture dating back 500 years as part of a long-term dig on St. Catherines Island.

“We are grateful to host Maurice Bailey and David Hurst Thomas,” said university librarian and associate provost Toby Graham. “These two programs are excellent opportunities to learn more about the rich history of Georgia’s coast and the importance of preserving it.”

Bailey, president and CEO of the non-profit Save Our Legacy Ourself (SOLO), is a ninth generation Sapelo Island resident, who worked with his mother, Cornelia Bailey, to revive heritage crops on Sapelo Island. His organization works to preserve the culture, heritage, and traditions of Saltwater Geechee people, as well a land retention, and climate change mitigation planning on the island.

The Russell Library event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Special Collections Libraries in Athens. Nik Heynen, Distinguished Research Professor in UGA’s department of geography, who co-directs the Cornelia Walker Baily Program on Land and Agriculture with Maurice Bailey, will moderate.

At 6 p.m. on Sept. 14, Thomas will discuss his team’s work uncovering the Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, a Spanish outpost established on St. Catherines Island in 1566 and destroyed in 1680. Thomas, who continues to lead excavations on the coastal island, is curator of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.

Thomas’s visit coincides with the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s exhibit Exploring St. Catherines Island, on display at the Special Collections Libraries Building through December.

For more information about events and exhibits at the UGA Special Collections Libraries, visit