Whole Number 12
by Bertram Holland Flanders
A book published recently by the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia which will interest our members is A New Frontier in Education by Bertram Holland Flanders The author, while tracing the history of the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia. presents an interesting biography of Dr. George McIntosh Sparks, who has been described by M. D, Collins, State Superintendent of Schools for Georgia, as 'the greatest educator of this age."
220.127.116.11 George McIntosh Sparks was born in Quitman, Brooks County, Georgia, on 19 Nov, 1889, the second son of 1.1.1 Andrew Jackson and Julia Catherine (McIntosh) Sparks. In 1893, Andrew Sparks moved his family to Macon, Georgia, where he operated the hotel Arcadia.. Mr. Flanders tells an amusing anecdote connected with this event: ‘Little George had been worried about tne removal to Macon. His childish mind was disturbed, not only by the strangeness of his new surroundings, but by a fear that God might have been left behind in Quitman. His fears, however, disappeared after he began attending Sunday School in Macon, "It's going to be all right living in Macon," he is said to have told his mother. 'They have the same Jesus here that we had in Quitman."
Dr. Sparks was graduated from Mercer University in Macon on 3 June 1909, but before he could begin his life's work he was stricken with typhoid fever and pneumonia, His recovery extended over many months, during the latter part of whioh he was benefitted by physical exercises at the Macon Y.M.C.A. Upon recovery, he became physical director of the Macon branch of the Y.M.C.A. As part of his duties he contributed articles to the Macon Telegraph an activity which opened another field of interest for George Sparks - - that of journalism. Later he became sports editor of the Telegraph, and during a border dispute between the United States and Mexico in 1916, Sparks received national recognition as a 'war correspondent.'
There followed a Washington assignment and, at the close of the First World War, he became city editor of the Telegraph, a position which he retained for five years. In 1922 he married Mary Booth. In 1923 Sparks became assistant to the President of Mercer university where he also taught classes in journalism. The following year he accepted a teaching position in the Commerce Department at Georgia Tech and there became interested in the possibilities which night-school offered to adults in furthering their education. Within a short tine, Sparks took over the management of the night classes then being offered by Georgia Tech. 'Thus began," to quote Mr. Flanders, 'his experiment in evening-school operation, which has become a new frontier in education and has attracted the attention of educators all over tne country.'
George McIntosh Sparks is given primary credit for building this Evening-School into the major center of adult education in the South. In recognition of its importance, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in 1933 made Sparks's school an independent unit in the University System. Mr. Flanders traces in detail the interesting history of this school which, following the last war, had a total enrollment of nearly 7,000 students. Throughout the history, Dr. Sparks, on whom was conferred the LL.D. degree by Mercer University in 1933, is the leading figure. Governor Herman Talmadge declared in 1953 that Director Sparks 'is doing the most outstanding job in the state in education.'
It is a pleasure to report that Mr. Flanders has given careful attention to the ancestry of Dr. Sparks, and that he refers to The Sparks Quarterly in his notes. Dr. Sparks's great-grandfather, 36. John Sparks (1755-1834), was a soldier of the Revolutionary War from South Carolina. John Sparks married Margaret Hampton on January 13, 1779, and was buying and selling land in Newberry County, South Carolina, from 1778 to 1795. He moved with his family to Washington County, Georgia, ca. 1795. This John Sparks of South Carolina and Georgia has been confused by some descendants with the 18.104.22.168.2 John Sparks of Wilkes County, North Carolina, whose pension application and genealogy is given in this issue of the Quarterly. An article on John Sparks of South Carolina and Georgia is being planned for the March issue of the Quarterly. Members having information on his family are urged to write to the Editor, Russell E. Bidlack, 1131 Granger Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan.