As we continue to explore the theme of Children in the Archives, we’d like to reflect on the power of archives to bring people together and connect. In 2022, the City mounted the large-scale outdoor photography installation “Window to Savannah’s History” on the old Water Works Pump House building at the corner of Gwinnett Street and Stiles Avenue. The installation features images from the Municipal Archives’ collections, selected with assistance from community members from Savannah’s westside neighborhoods. The featured portraits represent both residents of Savannah’s westside, as well as Savannah as a whole. Many of those displayed were collected during neighborhood documentation projects aimed at preserving the unique stories of Savannah’s diverse neighborhoods and communities.
Rose Marie Manigault (now Harris), around the age of 4-5 years old, shopping on Broughton Street with her mother, Mrs. Ernestine E. Manigault, circa 1940-1941. Westside Documentation Project, Item 6112-003_Rose Harris.
Since the installation went up, it has been exciting to hear how these portraits have impacted people. In a 2022 SGTV piece, Carolyn Slay talked about what it meant to see her mother and aunt in one of the images. Perhaps the most touching story, and the kind that makes it all worth it for an archivist, came from Rose Marie Manigault Harris, the subject of one of the portraits. Mrs. Harris’ family used the portrait as an opportunity to have a family reunion, bringing together multiple generations. Harris family members came from Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana to take a family photo onsite at the Water Works in front of Rose’s portrait. Then, 80 years after the original image was taken on Broughton Street, her granddaughter Jillian Rose and great-granddaughter Raegen Rose recreated it, each taking a turn walking with a purse down Broughton Street.
Rose Marie Manigault Harris and family, 2023. Photographs courtesy of Rose Harris.
Rose Harris with granddaughters, 2023.
Jillian Rose, 2023.
Raegen Rose, 2023.
To learn more about the Municipal Archives and our collections, visit www.savannahga.gov/MunicipalArchives.