Lisa Russell, Assistant Dean of Dual Enrollment at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, has received her second Georgia Author of the Year nomination for history for her latest book, Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia.

What began as a desire to learn about their grandparents, who lived and worked in a mill village in Camden, New Jersey, led Russell to research the lives of people in local mill towns.

“I’m trying to tell the story of the average mill worker,” she said. “I use all the facts, but I tell their stories as a narrative.”

Russell did research by reading old newspaper articles and searching documents in local, state, and national archives. The book covers mill towns in the counties of Bartow, Chattooga, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas, Floyd, Gordon, Hall, Polk, Walker and Whitfield as well as the rise and fall of the so-called “Mill Village Era”. This is the third book on the history of Northern Georgia that Russell has written and says this book is her favorite.

“When I write a book like this, I just keep digging until I find something new and fresh,” said Russell. “When I find something that has already been written about, I try to look at it from a new angle.”

Russell also interviewed people with first and second hand accounts of the area’s mill villages and used GNTC staff to tell the story. In her book, Russell thanks GNTC President Dr. Heidi Popham; Don Hayes, evening coordinator on GNTC’s Gordon County campus; and Beth Gibbons, Student Success administrative assistant, for sharing family ties with Mühlendörfern.

“There’s a little GNTC in this book,” said Russell. “One of my favorite things to do while researching this book was that Dr. Popham’s father-in-law received a certificate from a small engine course at Coosa Valley Technical College while working at the Lindale Mill.”

Russell hopes these stories provide an understandable picture of what life was like in a mill village in northwest Georgia. Although it goes into detail on nearly a dozen villages, it was unable to cover all of the villages in the region.

Your publisher, The History Press, nominated Russell for the award. The writer has been with the company since 2016 and enjoys being in a community of writers focused on local history.

“I’ve always loved these books, they tell stories in an engaging way,” said Russell. “People want to read stories with a clear narrative.”

For her next book, Russell wants to look at the women who made influence in northwest Georgia but didn’t get much historical recognition. Meanwhile, she is excited to be nominated for an award she coordinated once while working for the Georgia Writers Association.

Russell is the author of three books: Lost Towns of North Georgia, Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia, and Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia.