Kids University and The Georgia Tracy Mental Photographs Book

One of the strengths of the historical collections at Reese Library is the window they provide into the lives of “ordinary” Georgians. An ordinary Georgian became the focus of sessions of Histories Mysteries offered by Kids University. Kids University, started by Augusta College and continued by Georgia Regents University, is a summer enrichment camp that has become a fixture in children’s summer activities for several decades.

This summer twenty-four children participated in a program to teach children about the use of primary sources, and the methods a historian uses to follow clues to write the stories of individuals, events, and areas. The Georgia Tracy Mental Photographs Book ca. 1876, was used to discuss the types of clues that historians use to examine the details of a person’s life and times. There were two additional benefits to focusing on this collection. Children compared their likes and dislikes with those of people living in 1876, making this more relevant to the students’ own lives. They also discovered the fun of historical inquiry.

Here is some background on Georgia Tracy and the collection.

It is believed that the collection was donated in 1983 by “Miss Tracy” Cohen, an Augustan active in the arts, culture, and historical preservation. This item may have been part of a larger collection as evidenced by the collection’s original abstract, “mental photographs book from the Cohen collection (Macon Ga.)”.

The photograph of Georgia Wadley (January 26, 1860-February 13, 1921), estimated at ca. 1880, shows a young lady in the expected upper class fashion of the time.  She was the daughter of Brigadier General Edward Dorr Tracy, C.S.A (1833-1863) and Elizabeth Steele Tracy (d. 1868). She had at least one sister, Susie C. Tracy, a collection of whose letters is in the Middle Georgia Archives, Macon, Georgia. In the 1880 Federal Census, she is listed in Macon, Georgia with the family of an uncle, William Johnston. While she may not have graduated from the institution, there is evidence that she received an education from the Wesleyan Female College (now Wesleyan College, Macon GA). In a Macon Telegraph and Messenger report from June 20, 1876, she is credited with reading her essay, “Songs I Remember,” at the college’s annual commencement exercises. Other articles report on her participation in bridal parties, church parties, and dramatics.

Georgia married George Dole Wadley on June 27, 1883 and had at least two children, Sarah L. Wadley and Edward DonTracy Wadley. She is buried in the Wadley Cemetery in Monroe County, Georgia.

This mental photographs album is an early form of a scrapbook—a friendship album. “Jointly created friendship albums could mark a relationship between a family and its circle.” (Garvey, Ellen Gruber. Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

If you would like to see the digitized item to take a trip to 1876, connect to and type Tracy in the search box