west porch of Christ Church, prior to 1869
 
The Savannah Biography 
Collection
Student Papers from the History Methods Class
Taught by Roger K. Warlick
 
 by Dr. Janet Stone 

    Roger Kinney Warlick, head of the history department at Armstrong Atlantic State University from 1970 to 1993, developed the Savannah Biographies project as the centerpiece of his course in Historical Methods. It introduced students to the skills of primary research through the rich archival resources of the Georgia Historical Society and through the lives of Savannah citizens from colonial times to the twentieth  century.

    A specialist in Reformation history, Roger Warlick was a true Renaissance man whose interests easily embraced the thought, theology, and music of sixteenth century Europe as well as the local history of Savannah from the eighteenth century to the present. He often commented that a true historian cannot help but delve into the history of the place that lies around him. He practiced what he preached by writing a scholarly history of Christ Church, the first parish church of the Georgia colony and the particular Episcopal church where Warlick worshiped as a committed Christian and chorister. His research for the book, As Grain Once Scattered. extended from the manuscripts of the British Library in London to the stacks of the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah.

    The Georgia Historical Society was more than simply an archive for Warlick. He was president of the Society from 1990-1994; and, with his wife Lorraine, he was an enthusiastic supporter of its many activities. He knew its resources well and guided his students into its holdings with affectionate familiarity, as if introducing them to old friends who had wonderful stories to tell. The Historical Methods course was a required course for all history majors at Armstrong. Each student wrote an "original" history of a Savannah personage, working from primary materials with appropriate formal documentation and supplemented in many cases by interviews with family descendants. The biographies were collected and bound into twenty-five volumes, which are shelved in the Minis Room Special Collection of the Lane Library at Armstrong. As Warlick noted in the prefatory comment of each volume, readers should remember that the papers are the work of students, primarily undergraduate students. The biographies are unrevised and unedited. Although the quality of the papers varies, the students universally considered their "methods paper" to be the most rigorous and the most satisfying experience of their major program.

    Roger Warlick was a native of San Diego, California. He received his B.A. degree from Arizona State University and his Ph.D. degree from Boston University .He came to Armstrong in 1970 to serve as head of the history department and held that position until 1993, after which he served as Assistant to the Dean of Arts and Sciences from 1993-1995. He retired in 1995 after twenty-five years of service to Armstrong. He died in 1998. The Savannah Biography collection is a small manifestation of the large legacy that he left to his students, to Armstrong, and to the Savannah community.


Roger Warlick homepage

Savannah Images Project