Jennie Eldredge is a native of Atlanta who graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. In Anthropology in 2008. She thoroughly enjoyed the learning environment in the department where she found a nexus of her interests in history, culture, geology and forensics intersecting in a focus on archaeology, specifically that of Prehistoric Ireland and the British Isles. She completed a field school under the tutelage of Dr. Jeffrey Glover and Dr. Fabio Amador Berdugo in El Salvador where she helped excavate a handful of Pre-Columbians sites of possible Mayan origin and visited such important sites in archaeological scholarship as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Joya de Ceren.
In her last semester, she completed an internship with New South and Associates, Inc., a CRM archaeology and history firm in Stone Mountain, Ga. and was hired by them to be a laboratory and field technician. She enjoyed the opportunity to travel across the South and work on such projects as a Phase IV, cemetery relocation in Savannah, and many Phase I jobs that gave her an introduction to archaeology in the public field. However, she felt a longing for a more rooted life, and a career that focused more on sharing archaeology and history with the public. The recession pointed her to decide to go back to school and pursue a Master’s Degree in Public History through Georgia State’s Historic Preservation program.
In 2010, she began volunteering at Historic Oakland Cemetery in Downtown Atlanta, due to the interest her experiences in excavating cemeteries instilled in her, and her introduction to the cemetery during Dr. Richard Laub’s Introduction to Historic Preservation Class during her undergraduate degree. She has found a wonderful family of fellow volunteers at the Historic Oakland Foundation, and has learned much through her 5+ years of volunteering in the Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop, through the Second Saturday’s Gardening Projects, and she has learned some of the skills of presenting history through first person interpretation during Annual Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tours and Phoenix Flies tours. These public history presentations have afforded her the opportunity to marry her artistic and crafting impulses in the research and creation of period appropriate costume ensembles for her portrayals of specific women buried at the cemetery.
For the past two semesters, she has held a GRA at Oakland Cemetery, where her main focus has been on the research and implementation of a Geographic Information System (GIS) database to organize all of Oakland’s historic records in a map based, spatial system that can also integrate all of the foundation’s operations: restoration, accounting, fundraising, special events, etc. Oakland Cemetery, and the members of the Historic Oakland Foundation have afforded Ms. Eldredge an important and opportunity to explore many aspects of public history and non-profit in a space that is unique and integral to Atlanta and her past.
Her interests in digital history have been spurred by the ongoing GIS project at Oakland Cemetery, and a more recent project that is physically near and emotionally dear to her, the preservation of the history of Hyde Farm in Marietta, Ga. Ms. Eldredge grew up only a mile from this farmstead and landscape that is an integral, physical preservation of the vanished, rural agricultural history of Cobb County. Dr. Cliff Kuhn’s Oral History class afforded her an opportunity to interview and learn from the long- term resident of the 1845 Power Cabin located on Hyde Farm. Their collaboration and friendship continues and it is Ms. Eldredge’s hope that she can continue to learn and preserve the local history with this resident with an eye towards a possible future presentation utilizing some method of digital history.
For her class topic on the Beltline project, Ms. Eldredge would like to focus on a digital. public history interpretation of Oakland Cemetery and how it relates to the Beltline.