April 2014 marked the 150th anniversary of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's 1864 march into Georgia. Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center commemorated this extraordinary event with the original series, “37 Weeks: Sherman on the March.” The series brings Sherman’s devastating 37-week journey across Georgia to life and highlights key turning points in the history-making trek.
“37 Weeks” was produced by award-winning filmmaker Bruce Burkhardt, in collaboration with Atlanta History Center Civil War historian Gordon Jones. Burkhardt also wrote and produced GPB’s highly successful documentary “Augusta’s Master Plan-From Sherman’s March to Arnie’s Army.” Jones is sharing his expertise and the vast Civil War collection of photos, maps, documents, diaries and newspaper accounts curated by the Atlanta History Center.
In April of 1864, the American Civil War was raging on, and more than half a million soldiers were dead. President Abraham Lincoln was facing a tough election as his political opponents were calling for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy. Lincoln, however, was determined to restore the Union at any cost, and Georgia paid the price. Without Gen. Sherman's march to the sea, the Civil War may have ended very differently and the Union dissolved.
"GPB is honored to partner with the Atlanta History Center on this project,” said Teya Ryan, president and CEO of GPB. “We are very fortunate to have access to its rich resources and knowledgeable staff. By taking audiences on this week-by-week journey of Sherman’s March, we give our audience the opportunity to relive the dramatic history of the Civil War in Georgia."
Each of the 90-second “37 Weeks” segments aired multiple times on GPB’s television and radio platforms during the week paralleling the same week in Shermanʼs campaign and told a story that brings an understanding to the human dimension of war. What did it feel like when Shermanʼs army - 100 thousand strong - was bearing down on your city? What was motivating Shermanʼs fateful decisions? What was it like for the foot solider on either side of the battlefield? What were some of those twists of fate or ironic moments that war inevitably produces? These are among the stories “37 Weeks” explores.
“GPB and the Atlanta History Center wished to find a way to make the history of the war relevant to a new generation of Atlantans. It is no longer enough to just know what, where, and when something occurred, making it increasingly important to engage audiences beyond traditional Civil War monuments, plaques, and memorials.” said Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of Atlanta History Center. “The concept to highlight Georgia’s Civil War history by focusing on one event, and one story, per episode allowed the opportunity to use images, documents, diaries, and objects from the History Center’s collection, coupled with GPB’s production expertise, in a way that brings the past to life through storytelling while providing personal connections to our collective – and shared history.”
The series was hosted and narrated by Masud Olufani, who has worked with the Atlanta History Center for the last four years as part of their "Meet the Past Museum Theatre" program. Most recently he played the role of African American journalist J. Max Barber in the award-winning production of the History Center's "Four Days of Fury: The Atlanta 1906 Race Riot."
"37 Weeks" won three Emmys at the 2015 Southeast Emmy Awards, including best production, director, and writers for short form. See Atlanta History Center staff members' acceptance speech for their 2015 Southeast Emmy Award.