Words and Photography By Emily Laborde
“There’s other ways o’ learnin’ ’bout the behind feet of a mule than gettin’ kicked by ’em, sure as I’m named Remus. And just ’cause these here tales is ’bout critters like Br’er Rabbit an’ Br’er Fox, that don’t mean they ain’t the same like can happen to folks! So them who can’t learn from a tale about critters, just ain’t got the ears tuned for listenin’.”
Nestled in the quiet Middle Georgia town of Eatonton, is the Uncle Remus Museum. Not just a location of pilgrimage for American literature and Southern history buffs, people from all over make the trip to see the hometown of Uncle Remus and author Joel Chandler Harris. The museum is housed in a log cabin made from two original Putnam County slave cabins. The building is similar to the one occupied by Uncle Remus, the lovable character made famous by Mr. Harris.
On July 20, 1879, The Atlanta Constitution published thirty-year-old, Joel Chandler Harris’s first story entitled “Story of Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox as told by Uncle Remus.” Within a short time, his stories were being published across the country and after more than 1,000 requests for more, his first book was published in November of 1880. Having stated that his stories were mere documentation, Harris doubted his stories would have any lasting value. He underestimated the value of these stories greatly, as they continue to be published and studied.
The museum collection is comprised of nineteenth century era objects typical for this region, woodcarvings of “de critters” that were created for the Uncle Remus stories, first edition pieces of Harris’ work, and numerous articles about the author and his work. The centerpieces of the collection are signed illustrated stills from the 1946 Disney movie Song of the South.
The museum unfortunately does not allow photography inside, however they have many of Joel Chandler Harris’ books including the complete collection of Uncle Remus Stories, as well as contemporary children’s books, postcards, bookmarks, and even VHS copies of the film Song of the South.
After exploring the museum collection and perusing the gift shop, I would recommend walking around Turner Park where the museum is located. The park is small but maintained well; there is a short walking trail around the cabin and picnic tables, and benches where visitors can rest or enjoy a picnic.
Don’t forget to get a photo with Br’er Rabbit!
Forever wandering and always curious. I’m Emily Laborde and I got bitten by the bug at age 10 on a trip to Washington D.C. I haven’t slowed down since! I grew up in the South, part of a huge, LOUD, Southern family, so naturally, I love taking the back roads and good Southern food (all types of food really).
My background is art history and recently earned my master’s in historic preservation at the University of Georgia. My education and upbringing (daughter of a designer and restauranteur) has nurtured my creativity and inquisitive nature. I am a preservationist, documentarian, lover of fashion, art, music, architecture…all the good stuff.