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History and literature inspire $2 million gift


A fascination with history and a love of literature have inspired George A. and Nancy Montgomery throughout their life together. Those interests have also inspired them to make a $2 million gift to the University of Georgia Libraries to help ensure that the state's history will be protected and its literary talent recognized.

"Libraries are at the heart of every university, and the support of donors such as George and Nancy Montgomery helps make the University of Georgia a truly great university," said UGA President Michael F. Adams. "On behalf of the entire university, I thank them for their generosity."

A native of Atlanta, George Montgomery served in the Navy Air Corps during World War II before earning his A.B. in English from UGA in 1950. He later served as vice president of the Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Company and founded Atlanta-based Montgomery Properties Inc. Nancy Montgomery is a native of Moultrie who attended Valdosta State University and accompanied her husband on adventures around the globe.

One million dollars of their gift will go toward the construction of the Richard B. Russell Building, which will be the new home of the university's special collections libraries. A groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction the 115,000-square-foot building was held January 28th, and the building is expected to be completed in 2011.

The building will include state-of-the-art climate control and security to protect valuable holdings in three collections:

The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library includes papers of the first colonists, the original Confederate Constitution and the papers of prominent authors such as Margaret Mitchell. See http://www.libs.uga.edu/hargrett/index.shtml for more information.

The Walter J. Brown Media Archive and Peabody Awards Collection is nation's third largest archive of broadcasting in the country. See http://www.libs.uga.edu/media/ for more information.

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies includes the papers of Senator Russell and nearly 300 other Georgia political figures. See http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/ for more information.

The building will also include an auditorium, classrooms and seminar rooms so that faculty can use materials from the collections in educational settings. One-third of the $42 million construction cost will come from private sources, and the contribution of the Montgomerys will be recognized through the naming of the Nancy and George A. Montgomery Reading Room.

"The Richard B. Russell Building will house and protect some of the state's most valuable literary and cultural treasures while also making them more accessible to students, scholars and the public," said University Librarian and Associate Provost William Gray Potter. "By helping support its construction, George and Nancy Montgomery are helping to preserve and share our state's culture and history."

George Montgomery is the author of two novels, one of which is set in Georgia. In Pillow of Gold, later published as The Eye of the Eagle, he tells the story of the nation's first major gold rush. In And the Mountain Cried, he speculates on the fate of D.B. Cooper, who in 1971 hijacked a Boeing 727 for $200,000 in ransom and parachuted from the plane, never to be seen again.

The remaining one million dollars of the gift will support an endowment for the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, which was established by the UGA Libraries in 2000 to recognize Georgia writers whose work reflects the character of the state, its land and its people. Honorees include Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., Carson McCullers, Pat Conroy and Coleman Barks. More information on the Georgia Writer's Hall of Fame is available at http://www.libs.uga.edu/gawriters/.

"Nancy and I have always believed that literature and history are essential to a life well-lived," George Montgomery said. "We're proud to support the UGA Libraries."