A mass communication class took the fall semester learning of stories surrounding Central State Hospital (CSH) from first-hand accounts of local community members with ties to the institution.
"Mr. Johnny Grant approached me about collecting an oral history and stories from those at Central State hospital during the CSH Appreciation Day. The students were anxious to do more,” said Assistant Professor of Mass Communication Angela Criscoe. “They pitched a website idea to Mr. Grant and the CSH Redevelopment Authority Director Mike Couch and Communications Director, Lauren Abis. They approved, and the students went to work.”
The students took off taking roles such as video producer, project manager, social media coordinators, editor and writers—all with the goal to produce a polished, multimedia website on the people, places and progress of CSH.
“I think there’s a certain public perspective and a private perspective,” said Project Manager James Beaman, who is also a senior mass communication major. “What we sought out to do is to have that private perspective highlighted so everyone can hear it.”
The class did the majority of their research at Central State Appreciation Day Sept. 29, where the team interviewed more than 20 people with connections to the hospital. From former employees, to siblings who grew on the campus to the storied histories of the buildings—the class wanted to get the full story.
“It was an amazing experience to see how many people wanted to be a part of the project,” said Amanda Norris, senior mass communication major. “We had so many come up and want to tell their stories. I think it’s meaningful because CSH is such a large part of Milledgeville’s story and so few students know the history. Our job is to share that.”
Criscoe says that the project has been an opportunity for students to work in an environment where they’re in control of editorial decisions.
"We are very appreciative of those who have supported this effort from the directors, GC administration and the community who were willing to share their stories,” said Criscoe.
Sam Jones, senior mass communication major and journalist, says these stories serve a larger point than to just be featured for a class project.
“I think we all have this fear in life that your story won’t be told, and so we’re offering this avenue for people’s stories to hold value and to have a place to live.”
Visit the website’s Facebook page for more information on the project. The class is set to present and publish the website, “Central State Hospital: People, Places & Progress,” on Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. in the Russell Library Museum Education Room.