The Heritage Room Presents: The Mary Ann P. Braswell Cushman photographs

Mary Ann Ponds Braswell as a young woman, circa 1936

The Mary Ann P. Braswell Cushman photographs recount the fascinating life of Mary Ann Ponds Braswell Cushman, a person rich in Athens and world history, and the noteworthy Braswell family, a family rich in Athens heritage. The Braswell family, native to Athens, was known for its ties with the Athens Banner-Herald. According to her brother's obituary in the Athens Banner-Herald archives, Mary Ann’s father, Earl Bartow Braswell, aided with the merger of the Athens Herald and the Southern Banner in 1921 to create the Athens Banner-Herald. He then served as Publisher and President of the Banner-Herald until 1965. After his term as publisher and president, the Braswell family had little association with the newspaper, but it is clear that the family played an essential part in building the foundation for the well-known Athens Banner-Herald of today.

A photograph of a painting of Earl B. Braswell, undated

Mary Ann's life story, also beginning in Athens, coincides with her father's business and legacy. Ancestry Library Edition 1930 census records indicate Mary Ann was born in Athens in 1922. According to her own obituary in the Athens Banner-Herald archives, Mary Ann, while involving herself very little in her father's business in her youth, was an accomplished student at the University of Georgia, and moved on to become a worker in the U.S. Embassy in London for a year after her graduation. She married Lt. Colonel Edwin Cushman in 1945 and, after following him to Berlin, returned to Athens and settled here until her death in 2006, indexed in Ancestry Library Edition's U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. She was active in the Athens community as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and as president of the Women's Republican Club.

The most recent photo of Mrs. Cushman, circa 2000

The collection itself includes photographs of members of the Braswell Family and documents the life of Mary Ann Ponds Braswell Cushman. The family photos include childhood photos of Earl Bartow Braswell dated circa 1890, photos of Mary Ann’s brother John Coffee Braswell (killed in a plane crash in 1943), childhood photos of her niece and nephew John Coffee Braswell Jr. and Frances Lynn Braswell circa 1938, and a single photo of her mother, date unknown.

The photos detailing Mary Ann’s life include portraits of her as a young woman, her graduation photo from the University of Georgia, photos of her husband, their marriage, and their life together, all dated circa 1936-2006. The collection’s more interesting highlights include a photograph of a local painting of Earl B. Braswell; a letter written to Earl from Mary Ann when she was a child; Mary Ann’s Journal Magazine correspondence from her brief stint as a member of the American embassy in London circa 1943; a certificate for a pleasure cruise on the Queen Mary; and a photo of a bombed-out Brandenberg Gate taken just after the end of World War II in 1947, from her husband’s station in Berlin.

Top: A photo of the Brandenburg Gate after the bombings of WWII, Berlin, 1947, taken by Mrs. Cushman

Bottom: Ms. Braswell's UGA graduation photo, circa 1943

When viewing this collection, note the entire Braswell family’s influence in the Banner-Herald, the Athens community, and Georgia as a whole. Mary Ann’s life story is intertwined with her family’s interactions in Athens. The genealogy of the Braswell family is easily accessible through the Library’s Ancestry Library Edition database or familysearch.org, through census records and the Social Security Death Index. This small collection spans more than a century, from approximately 1890-2006, and has a wide range of both new and old photos which are interesting to peruse. Feel free to browse through them in the Heritage Room!

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