County website features six documentaries about history of Gwinnett

Kathryn Parsons Willis speaks of her family’s store, Parson’s Dry Goods, in the documentary “200 Years of Commerce.” The documentary is one of six made by the Gwinnett County government as part of the county’s bicentennial celebration. The documentaries are featured at (Special Photo)

Though Gwinnett’s yearlong bicentennial celebration wrapped up Dec. 15, newcomers and history buffs can still learn the backstory of Georgia’s second-most populous county, thanks to six documentaries that were made as part of the county’s 200th birthday celebration.

According to a press release, Gwinnett County’s government has developed six documentaries about the county’s past and posted them on the official bicentennial website at

The videos trace Gwinnett’s origin and cover other aspects of the county’s history, including its military contributions, the development of its blackcommunity, the achievements of its business community, and where the county is now.

The first of the series, “Two Centuries of Fertile Ground for the American Dream,” starts with the initial settlers and the creation of Gwinnett County. The 13-minute video discusses the impact of farming, railroads, medical care and industry on Gwinnett’s growth. It also covers the creation of Lake Lanier and construction of Interstate 85 through the heart of Gwinnett County and how those two developments changed the county.

“New Pioneers” focuses on the diversity of Gwinnett County, celebrates Gwinnett’s inclusive nature and shares the stories of people who moved to Gwinnett from other countries. The nearly nine-minute-long documentary talks about how people were drawn by the promise of jobs, the outstanding schools, the openness of the community and how the different cultures have enriched the county.

The 200-year history of black residents in Gwinnett is chronicled in “The African-American Journey.” It touches on slavery and reconstruction with sharecroppers working the land for survival. Descendants of longtime Gwinnett residents talk about the historic role of the church and segregated schools among black students. The video, approximately 14 minutes long, also features the Promised Land, a center of economic and community activity for people of color.

“200 Years of Commerce” examines the history of Gwinnett’s economy and prosperity, focusing on how transportation — waterways, roads and railways — helped spark Gwinnett’s early growth, and how education and quality of life is helping fuel its continued success. The video, which runs about 10 minutes, also talks about how Gwinnett is a hub for high-tech and life-science companies, providing a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs.

From its inception, Gwinnett residents have served their country when duty called. “Gwinnett’s Military Contributions” recounts the County’s role in preparing for and fighting in conflicts around the globe. The approximately nine-minute video highlights some of Gwinnett soldiers’ stories as well as contributions on the home front.

“Where Are We Today?” provides a snapshot of modern Gwinnett County, describing its thriving economy, its quality of life, its diversity and cultural pluralism and the local government’s commitment to providing high-quality services. Gwinnett’s exceptional health care facilities and world-class education are also extolled in this nearly six-minute video.

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