Submitted by cleveland on Fri, 09/29/2017

A collection of photographs documenting a variety of methods used by farmers and soil conservation scientists and engineers to prevent soil erosion have been added to the Digital Library of Georgia. Funding for this project was provided by Georgia HomePLACE, a unit of the Georgia Public Library Service.

The new collection, USDA Photo Collection, Columbia County, Georgia, is available at, and was made possible through a partnership between the Digital Library of Georgia, GeorgiaHomePLACE and the Columbia County Library in Evans, Georgia.

"Much of Georgia's history is deeply rooted in the environmental and economic impacts of agriculture and farming," says HomePLACE Director Angela Stanley. "While these photographs resonate locally for Burke, Columbia, and McDuffie counties, they also tell a larger story about the country's changing relationship to sustainable farming practices, land conservation, and environmental protection. Through HomePLACE, the Georgia Public Library Service is proud to make these public library primary sources available via the Digital Library of Georgia."

The photographs in this collection come from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) record group Records of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1875-2002, and series title, Photographs of Water and Soil Conservation Practices, 1932 - 1977. More information about this record group and series is available here: The photographs were originally taken for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service, now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The photographs pertaining to Columbia County, Burke County, and McDuffie County, Georgia are part of a larger series of items that were taken throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico.

African-American agricultural worker riding a tractor and clipping pasture

The photographic prints included in the USDA Photo Collection, Columbia County, Georgia document a variety of methods used by farmers and soil conservation scientists and engineers to prevent soil erosion. Photographs show conservation practices such as irrigation and drainage systems, windbreaks, range land reseeding, woodland harvesting, brush clearing, contour farming, and terrace construction. A few photos record Soil Conservation Service scientists surveying, sampling, and measuring soil conditions. There are also historic photos documenting conservation educational programs.

This digital collection provides data transcribed from captions for the original photographs that includes information about the subject pictured, the location, and the date the photograph was taken.

Mary Lin Maner, director at Columbia County Library, says of this collection: "The digitization of these photos will allow them to be accessed from across the nation and around the world.  Researchers who are interested in genealogy, agriculture, or the history of the region will be thrilled with the quality and scope of these resources."

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia ( is a GALILEO initiative that collaborates with Georgia's libraries, archives, museums, and other institutions of education and culture to provide access to key information resources on Georgia history, culture, and life. This primary mission is accomplished through the ongoing development, maintenance, and preservation of digital collections and online digital library resources. DLG also serves as Georgia’s service hub for the Digital Public Library of America.

Georgia HomePLACE encourages public libraries and related institutions across the state to participate in the Digital Library of Georgia. HomePLACE offers a highly collaborative model for digitizing primary source collections related to local history and genealogy. HomePLACE 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. Learn more about Georgia HomePLACE at

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