Explore the dramatic story of “The 1936 Gainesville Tornado: Disaster and Recovery” at the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) – now substantially expanded and enhanced through completion of the second phase of a collaborative digitization project with the Hall County Library System and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, as part of Georgia HomePLACE.
The initial phase, completed last year, provided online access to a digitized version of original historical film depicting extensive storm damage in Gainesville from the severe 1936 multi-funnel tornado strike, generally regarded as the fifth deadliest in U.S. history. An interactive map provided geographically-based access to selected film clips for which shooting locations have been identified.
The recently completed second phase adds a multi-media online exhibit to tell a more complete story covering both the tornado strike as well as the extensive recovery effort afterwards (including the important role of President Franklin D. Roosevelt). Website visitors can follow the exhibit narrative sequentially through chronological stages (tornado outbreak, damage and destruction, relief and rescue, rebuilding) or alternatively drill down to specific information about any particular aspect of the disaster or recovery. The exhibit integrates selected clips from the film footage, related still images (photographs and
postcards) from the Hall County Library Historic Photograph Collection and the Vanishing Georgia collection, and dramatic quotes from eye witnesses.
To accommodate the more complex selection and presentation of digitized historical materials, DLG also redesigned and enlarged the project website, which now includes separate tabbed sections for the exhibit, primary sources, the interactive map, and additional resources (archival, reading, related links). The project is supported with federal LSTA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.