Graduate Students Help Catalog Materials at the Lillian E. Smith Center

Pepper and Schultz standing in front of a fireplace.
Pepperman and Schultz in the former camp library, where Smith wrote Strange Fruit.
Pepperman and Schultz work with an awards plaque, documenting its size and wording.
Pepperman and Schultz document Smith’s Charles S. Johnson Award from Fisk University that she received in 1966.

During the past weekend, History M.A. students Emma Pepperman and Margaret Schultz joined Dr. Julia Brock at the Lillian E. Smith Center in Clayton, Georgia, to create a catalog of the material culture that is housed within the Center. The site was the former Laurel Falls Girls Camp, begun by the family of writer and activist Lillian Smith in 1920 and directed by Smith herself until 1949, when the camp closed. Smith penned her novel Strange Fruit (1944) and memoir Killers of the Dream (1949) at the site, works that illuminated the pathology of white southern racism. Smith lived at the camp after its closure with her partner Paula Snelling and passed away there in 1966. The material culture that defined her world remains at the camp–from decorative objects to awards and artwork to her Rolodex where she kept the addresses and numbers of Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, and others–and the team is working to document and describe the collection for Piedmont College, which manages the Center.